Skip to main content

Xbox exec Matt Booty wanted to "spend Sony out of business"

But Microsoft says this "refers to industry tends we never pursued".

Microsoft had intended to "spend Sony out of business", Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty wrote in an email dated from 2019.

The email, sent to Xbox exec Tim Stuart, has publicly surfaced now during Microsoft's ongoing courtroom battle with the US Federal Trade Commission over its proposed $68.7bn Activision Blizzard buyout. In it, Booty encourages Xbox to make further acquisitions to bolster Game Pass and compete with Sony.

"We (Microsoft) are in a very unique position to be able to go spend Sony out of business," Booty wrote, in reference to planned spending of spending $2-3bn in 2020 to avoid competitors getting ahead.

Newscast: Nintendo makes clear there's life in Switch yet, while Microsoft finds an opportune moment to raise prices.Watch on YouTube

Booty went on to summarise the competition and state the need to avoid a "situation where Tencent, Google, Amazon or even Sony have become the Disney of games and own most of the valuable content".

"It is practically impossible for anyone to start a new video streaming service at scale at this point," he noted.

"In games, Google is three to four years away from being able to have a studio up and running. Amazon has shown no ability to execute on game content," he said.

"Content is the one moat that we have, in terms of a catalogue that runs on current devices and capability to create new. Sony is really the only other player who could compete with Game Pass and we have a two year and 10m subs lead."

Microsoft has since argued the email is old and reflects a strategy the company never pursued.

"This email is three and a half years old and predates the announcement of our [Activision Blizzard] acquisition by 25 months," Microsoft general manager of public affairs David Cuddy told The Verge. "It refers to industry trends we never pursued and is unrelated to the acquisition [of Activision Blizzard]."

The rest of the email thread has been redacted, though Booty does comment on Microsoft considering reversing its pledge for day and date releases on Game Pass - something other subscription services haven't always offered.

"If we reverse course on day and date, it's going to be hard to convince folks that things like Mixer or xCloud have much of a chance of surviving scrutiny either," Booty wrote.

This email thread came a year after Microsoft bought Hellblade developer Ninja Theory, in June 2018, for $117m. This figure was not made public at the time, but has also emerged according in courtroom filings.

The Ninja Theory acquisition came alongside acquisitions of Turn 10, Playground Games, Compulsion Games, and Undead Labs. Its Hellblade sequel still won't be out until next year.

Later, in 2020, Microsoft considered acquiring Sega, as well as Bungie, IO Interactive, Niantic, and Supermassive Games.

Bungie was later acquired by Sony for $3.6bn.

Read this next