Yes, you read that headline correctly. A recent report by Polygon has suggested that Microsoft has been internally grappling with its dearth of compelling Xbox One exclusive games, and is currently weighing up potential avenues to remedy this.
One such avenue is the acquisition of other studios and publishers, to bring more popular game franchises under the Xbox umbrella, and a "reliable source close to Microsoft" relayed to Polygon that Electronic Arts has been mentioned as a potential investment.
The report also states Valve and PUBG Corp have been considered by Microsoft as potential partners in an acquisition deal, though author Colin Campbell clarifies that this rumour was merely a "whisper" relayed to Polygon through its sources, so it shouldn't be considered as gospel truth. In fact, it's best to take all of this gossip with a pinch of salt, before anyone starts throwing around the "Half Life 3 as an Xbox One exclusive!" predictions.
Either way, the fruition of these rumours into something more verifiable might come along sooner than you think, with SuperDataResearch analyst Joost Van Dreunen speculating to Polygon that "because of where we are in the lifecycle of all these things, I’m expecting to hear Microsoft announce something very, very shortly."
The history of Xbox One exclusives isn't a happy one. Several titles, like Crackdown 3, have seen multiple delays, while a worrying number have been canned altogether, from Platinum Games' Scalebound to Fable Legends, the cancellation of which was twinned with the shutdown of revered developer Lionhead Studios.
Still, compared to the PS4's past, present, and future of exclusive titles (this year players get to enjoy Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, Spider-Man, Days Gone, and Detroit: Become Human, among many others), you can see why Microsoft might be looking to expand its repertoire of first party studios.
An EA acquisition sticks out as the most interesting option, though, given how a high profile stigma has historically been attached to the publisher (after debacles relating to Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, EA Origin etc.), and this poor public image has only been exacerbated by its recent business decisions regarding Star Wars Battlefront 2, the shutdown of Visceral Games, and Mass Effect: Andromeda's disappointing impact.
If a deal allows Microsoft to steer EA in a new direction, then maybe that's something to be excited about. Under Phil Spencer's leadership, the company has begun to increasingly deliver on its promise of a player-first agenda in recent years, with backwards compatibility, the Play Anywhere program, and last week's news that all Xbox One exclusives will be playable from Day One with the Xbox Game Pass.
Should this agenda bleed into the corporate ethos of EA, good things could come from an acquisition, especially as history proves that the publisher is certainly capable of brave creativity (Burnout Paradise, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge), even if its the missteps which stand out for most of its customers.
As for how a Microsoft-EA deal could affect players? It's hard to forecast something like that, but Xbox exclusive Star Wars, Battlefield, and BioWare games aren't out of the picture. That very sentence throws up a whole new can of questions, though. Where would this leave Anthem? Would Disney approve of single-platform Star Wars titles? What happens to EA's licenses with various brands and studios?
Right now, these predictions are nothing more than high-minded hypotheticals, but we'll just have to wait and see if anything comes to pass from all the implications made by Polygon's report.
Are you interested in the prospect of a Microsoft-EA acquisition? Or does the very thought of it make you concerned about the direction of the industry? Sound off in the comments below, but remember to play nice!