from the whoops dept
As many of you are probably already aware, a massive leak of internal documents at Microsoft occurred this week, all of which came out of the FTC’s challenge to Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard. We discussed a small portion of that leak a few days ago when we talked about Microsoft’s decision to take the next Elder Scrolls game exclusive to Microsoft platforms. But there was a great deal more that was leaked in the trove of documents that were included, both from internal company documents and emails. The reveals from those documents include:
- A potential new Xbox controller
- Microsoft apparently not thinking Baldur’s Gate 3 was any good, calling it a “Second-run Stadia PC RPG”
- Xbox chief Phil Spencer blaming management and workers for studio closures
- Plans for the next Xbox slated for 2028
- Phil Spencer’s apparent desire and plans to buy Nintendo
- Information about forthcoming new games
- A disc-less version of the current Xbox
Spencer himself addressed the leaks, both externally and internally to staff, which of course also leaked out.
Spencer hints that Microsoft’s plans may have changed, particularly as some documents were from last year, but others were from years prior. “I know this is disappointing, even if many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved,” says Spencer in his internal memo.
In a similar briefer statement shared on X (formerly Twitter), Spencer says: “We’ve seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed and there’s so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”
Left out of all that was a very clear statement as to who the known “leaker” was: Microsoft. And that’s really point one I want to address in Spencer’s statement. The passive language being used here doesn’t make it clear that Microsoft is the one that FUBAR’d this. But that is indeed what happened. It wasn’t someone at the FTC. It wasn’t someone in the court. It was Microsoft doing an oopsie.
“The FTC was not responsible for uploading Microsoft’s plans for its games and consoles to the court website,” tweeted Douglas Farrar, director of its Office of Public Affairs. He later shared a new court order released by the judge in the case, Jacqueline Scott Corley. It called for both the FTC and Microsoft to meet again to go over the issues with exhibits, and placed the blame squarely on the latter for the latest leak.
“The Court ordered the parties to meet and confer and provide the Court with a secure cloud link to the admitted exhibits with the redactions set forth in the Court’s orders,” she wrote. “Microsoft provided the link on September 14 and the Court uploaded the exhibits to [the] internet page established for this case.”
There you have it. But there’s another thing I’d like to point out when it comes to Spencer’s statements, specifically where he laments how the public is going through these documents and reaching what he is calling the wrong conclusions, either because they’re misinterpreting the content of the leaked documents, or because those documents are outdated.
Well, the problem with that lament is that Phil Spencer has routinely said one thing publicly and then gone ahead and done another. He told us Xbox exclusives weren’t the future, but that’s all there seems to be these days at Microsoft. Microsoft acquisitions weren’t supposed to result in fewer people being able to play games from those series in fewer places, except that’s exactly what happened.
And yet here we are, with Spencer himself complaining that the public is reaching the wrong conclusions having read internal documents and emails, some of which were from Spencer himself. But where else is the public supposed to go to get real insight and information as to what Microsoft is going to do?
Certainly not Spencer himself, which is my point. If he wanted to be able to tell the public, “Hold up, that information is old and wrong, wait until I tell you what the plans are.”, well, then he shouldn’t have been so misleading all this time.