Phil Spencer says Xbox is looking to buy casual game developers

The head of Microsoft’s gaming business has said Xbox is targeting acquisitions in the causal and social gaming spaces.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Phil Spencer said he wants Xbox’s first-party software line-up to include more casual content with a broad appeal.

“When I think about the kinds of genres that are usually associated with Xbox, yes, we have Roblox, we have Minecraft, we have FIFA and Fortnite, but we want to continue to invest in more social, casual content that’s out there,” he said. “We have a lot of ambition.”

It’s not the first time Spencer has said Microsoft is looking to grow its casual first-party output.

“If we look at what people are playing on Xbox, what Game Pass subscribers are playing, I think what is missing from our portfolio is casual content with a broad appeal,” he told Gamereactor in October 2020.

“E-rated content (to use an ESRB rating) is not a strength for us. We obviously have Minecraft and we have some other franchises. But when I think about expanding the creative palette that our teams have, I think that is critically important.”

Microsoft completed a $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks in March, in a deal that saw Xbox Game Studios grow from 15 to 23 development teams.

In June, Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty said the platform holder was continuing to search for studios to purchase as it targeted releasing a first-party game “every quarter” going forwards.

And last month, Spencer told the Wall Street Journal that the company was “definitely not done” acquiring development studios.

“There’s no quota,” he said. “There’s no kind of timeline where I have to go acquire studios by a certain time, but if we find a studio where we have a good fit, we share what we’re trying to go do and what they’re trying to go do, and if we feel we can both get better together, absolutely.

“It’s one of the privileges we have of being at Microsoft and having the capability to take a long-term approach, and adding amazing creators to the portfolios is an important part of that.”

On several previous occasions, Spencer has also expressed a desire to acquire an Asian game developer, “in particular a Japanese studio”.

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