Microsoft has been on a spending spree lately. After adding seven studios to its first-party shortlist in 2018, it just recently acquired Psychonauts and Brutal Legend studio Double Fine, announced during the Xbox E3 2019 show. As Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in an E3 2019 interview with GamesIndustry, the company isn't necessarily done shopping around, and it's especially interested in adding a Japanese studio to its roster.
"I think it would be nice if we found an Asian studio, in particular a Japanese studio, to add [to our roster]," Spencer said. "I liked it when we had some first-party capability in Japan. We have a small team there, but I think we can do more. That said, through our trips to Japan, I love having Phantasy Star back on our stage with Sega - I thought that was fantastic. [FromSoftware's] Miyazaki-san, before with Dark Souls and now having Elden Ring on our stage... the Japanese creators have shown up more and more."
An acquisition like this could help Xbox strengthen its position in Japan, where Nintendo and PlayStation (not to mention mobile games) reign supreme. Depending on the studio(s) acquired, it could also help Xbox add some exclusive JRPGs to its library, which Xbox One is sorely lacking. This lines up with Spencer's thoughts on the value and purpose of acquiring studios.
"One of the things I love about Tim [Schafer] and the team at Double Fine is that they build different games to what our other studios build," he told GamesIndustry. "And that's a strength. Because just like in video, just like in music, there isn't one song that everybody loves. There isn't one movie, or even a genre that everybody loves. So with Xbox Game Pass, we think about millions of different players and the different kinds of games they will play. That diversity is really important."
If Microsoft does eventually snap up a Japanese studio, no matter what it is, it'll almost certainly produce very different kinds of games from the current Xbox first-party lineup.
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