This must be the worst nightmare of many large companies: because a file is uploaded incorrectly, the entire business process suddenly falls by the wayside. At Microsoft, that nightmare became a reality on Tuesday. Due to a data breach, sensitive information about Xbox was accidentally published. A leak of this magnitude doesn’t happen often in the gaming world, where cybersecurity is taken very seriously due to intense competition.
The leak represents a serious embarrassment for Microsoft. The documents paint a picture of the plans that the American technology company has in the coming years with the Xbox, the gaming console that is the leader in the gaming section.
Something went wrong last week when providing information to a judge in the United States. The US market watchdog FTC wants to prevent Microsoft from acquiring gaming product Activision Blizzard through the courts and thus potentially gaining significant influence on the entertainment market.
This summer, Microsoft came out on top, meaning the $68.7 billion (€64.3 billion) acquisition appears to still be on the cards.
However, Microsoft had to provide more information to the court in California to settle the case. Microsoft complied with the request and submitted a number of documents, after which the court placed the information on a publicly accessible server on Friday.
It turns out that Microsoft accidentally shared about a hundred documents containing highly sensitive information that were not intended for the general public. When US media discovered its presence on Tuesday morning (local time), the server was immediately disabled, but the damage had already been done.
Among the sensitive documents are internal emails from Microsoft executives, product images, technical details and planned launch dates for new games and Xbox hardware.
It has become clear that Microsoft is planning to launch a new design for the Xbox Series The attached images show what the game console and controllers may look like. The current angular design will be replaced with a black cylindrical console. In 2028, Microsoft wants to launch the next generation of Xbox consoles, which has a long-term relationship with Microsoft’s cloud services.
Although the leak did not present many revolutionary ideas to experts (almost no one expected that a CD reader would be included in the next design of the Xbox), it was a painful event for Microsoft.
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In an initial response via X, formerly Twitter, CEO Spencer said he regretted the information being leaked in this way. “A lot has changed, and there is a lot to be excited about now and in the future.”
A tight case
The information leak is unlikely to have any consequences on the outcome of the US lawsuit. Lawyers assume that the FTC can no longer win and that the billion-dollar merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will still happen this fall.
What may jeopardize the acquisition is the filing of a lawsuit in the United Kingdom. The British competition authority CMA believes the acquisition gives Microsoft too much power over cloud services in the gaming world, and wants to force the tech giant through a lawsuit to partially divest of its cloud services.
Documents already show that the tech giant wants to connect Xbox to its cloud service to an advanced extent. The omission of the CD reader in new gaming consoles is one clear sign of this – after all, games need to be downloaded.
Interestingly, Microsoft’s main competitors Nintendo and Sony, the companies behind the Switch and Playstation respectively, also appear in the documents. This includes excluding popular game series Ancient manuscripts From PlayStation.
What also comes back is the possibility of a takeover by rival Nintendo. In a 2020 email conversation, Microsoft CEO Phil Spencer mused about what it would be like if Microsoft acquired the Japanese gaming giant. “Nintendo is our biggest acquisition target in gaming,” he said. quotes the edge CEO from leaked documents. Spencer describes the Nintendo acquisition as a “career.” [bepalend] “moment” and he writes that he sincerely believes it “would be a good move for both companies.”
The emails were written at a time when Microsoft was on an aggressive takeover path. In the summer of 2020, for example, it tried to take over the American activities of the video platform TikTok. Shortly after Spencer’s email, Microsoft purchased software publisher ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, bringing in gaming industry leader Bethesda.
The question posed in the emails: Shouldn’t Microsoft look more seriously at acquisition candidates like Nintendo? The main problem: Nintendo is sitting on a “big pile of cash” which makes it not an acquisition target at all.
At the turn of the 20th century, shortly after the introduction of the Xbox, Microsoft approached Nintendo. How little the Japanese see the future under Microsoft became clear during the meeting. “They laughed their asses off for an hour.” thus One of the Microsoft executives present told Bloomberg News.
The fact that Microsoft was still dreaming of acquiring Nintendo until recently was met with some disbelief in the gaming world. The question remains how seriously emails should be taken; The subject of the emails translates to “random thinking.”
A version of this article also appeared in the September 21, 2023 newspaper.
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