Confidential documents revealed that Microsoft had plans to acquire Square Enix as part of a broader corporate acquisition strategy.
Revealed as part of the ongoing legal battle surrounding Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft sought to acquire the veteran RPG creator in order to support "future mobile-exclusive Game Pass offerings" (via The Verge).
These plans were given the foreboding title "Project Phoenix" and were also centered around leveraging ownership of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts to grow Xbox's Japanese audience as well as to capitalize on Square Enix's experience in creating mobile games.
This is the latest in a string of revelations that have come to light in the wake of the US Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) court case against Microsoft. Many confidential documents have come to light, including internal correspondence planning for the acquisition of a range of other studios, including SEGA and Bungie all with the aim of increasing the reach of Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft's ongoing efforts to acquire Activision Blizzard have drawn a great deal of scrutiny from government bodies across the world, for fear that the acquisition could allow Microsoft to build a monopoly in the video games industry. In addition to the FTC's ongoing legal battle with Microsoft, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority has outright blocked the deal.
That said, things are not entirely grim for the tech giant. Not only is Microsoft appealing the UK government's decision, but it also got approval from the Chinese government as well as the European Union. Though the latter did force Microsoft to abide by several caveats, it's clear that the international community is somewhat divided on the issue.
However, as the FTC is all too keen to establish, the question remains as to whether or not Microsoft's ambitions go too far. Though Microsoft has offered concessions to its competitors ahead of the proposed merger, the fact remains that there's a great deal of anxiety surrounding Microsoft's plans to increase its market share.
Given the recent success of Final Fantasy 16 as well as the enduring popularity of Square Enix's Final Fantasy 7 Remake series, it's fair to say that Microsoft's acquisition of the Japanese video games company would have had a seismic effect on the industry as a whole. Having the people behind one of the best MMOs and some of the best RPGs of all time at their beck and call would have done a great deal to supplement Micosoft's already significant influence.
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Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.
Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure.
Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.