Xbox explored acquiring Hollow Knight, No Man's Sky, Rust, and more

No Man's Sky Leviathan hero
No Man's Sky Leviathan hero (Image credit: Hello Games)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is planning to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion.   
  • The FTC hopes to convince a judge to grant a preliminary injunction temporarily restricting Microsoft from closing the deal.   
  • As part of this legal process, official documents like Xbox's "Developers to Watch" list have surfaced, revealing additional acquisition targets.

The ongoing hearing between the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft regarding the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has revealed a bounty of fascinating documents highlighting Xbox's long-term content strategies. While we previously covered the possibility of Bungie and SEGA joining the Xbox family, a "Developers to Watch" list from Microsoft features a staggering number of other potential acquisition targets, including Team Cherry, the team behind Hollow Knight, Hello Games, the developers of No Man's Sky, Facepunch Studios, the creators of Rust, and many more.

The streamlined Developers to Watch list from Xbox's April 2021 "Quarterly Pipeline Review" highlights 16 developers, their locations, team sizes, noteworthy titles, and core competencies. According to this document, Mundfish, the developers of the Xbox Game Pass release Atomic Heart are watch-worthy because of their people and ideas. While the team responsible for Vermintide and Vermintide 2, Fatshark, are noteworthy because of their steady flow of game releases.   

Microsoft Developers to Watch list

Microsoft Developers to Watch list (Image credit: Microsoft)

This particular section of the Quarterly Pipeline Review doesn't divulge as much information as the segments that dissect Bungie, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc, and Paradox Interactive AB as possible acquisition targets, but given its relation to other acquisition-centric discussions in the Developers to Watch, it seemingly indicates a certain level of priority for Microsoft. For industry enthusiasts who adore getting lost in possibilities, there's a great deal to unpack here.  

Windows Central's take

A critical observation with this Developers to Watch list is that many of these teams have now shipped games on Xbox Game Pass. Their experience with the subscription service model is likely incredibly valuable to Microsoft as Xbox Game Pass continues to grow its reputation and user base. The probability of Microsoft acquiring every single one of these development teams is unlikely, especially as the relationships and standings of these studios have shifted throughout the last few years.  

While many of the documents disclosed in the FTC vs. Microsoft hearing don't directly impact the Activision Blizzard acquisition, it's rare that general audiences are privy to classified documents from companies like Microsoft and PlayStation. Emails between Xbox executives provide brief glimpses of mission statements and wild possibilities. Check back frequently for our breaking coverage of the latest and greatest in this ongoing legal adventure. 

Miles Dompier

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.