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Microsoft considered Bungie and Sega for future acquisitions

Microsoft wanted to use the clout provided by Sega and Bungie's respective names to drive players around the world to join Xbox Game Pass.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 27, 2023

2 Min Read
Logo for Microsoft's Xbox console.

Both Bungie and Sega were once looked at as potential for Microsoft to acquire. According to internal emails revealed during Microsoft's FTC trial, the Xbox maker was looking at the Destiny 2 and Sonic developers as potential boons to its Game Pass service. 

In those November 2020 emails from Xbox head Phil Spencer, he asked Microsoft CEO Natya Sadella and CFO Amy Hood for a strategy approval to court Sega Sammy about potentially buying its game studios. At the time, he wrote that Sega games "has built a well-balanced portfolio...with global geographic appeal, and will help us accelerate Xbox Game Pass both on and off-console."

Similarly for Bungie (which it previously owned until 2007), Microsoft noted that Destiny 2 is "one of the highest hours-generating titles on console Game Pass." Specific numbers weren't given, but it's worth noting that the online game joined the service in mid-2020, months before the release of its Beyond Light expansion. 

In his email, Spencer also notes that Sega would help Xbox widen its appeal to Asia markets, "where localized content is critical to success." Beyond Sonic, Sega owns franchises such as Persona (via its subsidiary Atlus), Bayonetta, and Like a Dragon. 

The Xbox brand has struggled in Japan in the past, so owning Sega would be one way to possibly help it do better in that region. For Persona especially, this may help explain why several recent remasters and re-releases (like Persona 5 Royal and 2024's Persona 3 Reload) have launched day one on Game Pass. 

Bungie was acquired by PlayStation last year, but it's not clear what happened with Microsoft and Sega following Spencer's email pitch. However, an internal review document from 2021 shows that it's still thinks of Sega as a "key target" to possibly acquire. 

Another studio named was IO Interactive, which may have one of its future projects be an Xbox exclusive. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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