According to a new rumor, Microsoft may be negotiating with Tomonobu Itagaki to merge his new studio, Apex Games Studio, with either Xbox Game Studios or Zenimax.
Why it matters: Itagaki is a well-known game creator behind popular titles like Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. A successful partnership with his new studio would benefit Xbox and its popularity in the Japan region.
(Rumor) Tomonobu ItagakiI (Ninja Gaiden & Dead or Alive) has been contacted by someone who talks to all the studios to see if they want to join either Xbox Game Studios or Zenimax.
— Idle Sloth💙💛 (@IdleSloth84_) May 11, 2023
An alleged screenshot of a conversation between a Microsoft representative and Itagaki was posted on Twitter, which revealed that Zenimax had shown interest in Apex Games Studio and is awaiting a response from Itagaki.
The representative also mentioned that Xbox is seeking more Japan-exclusive games to attract fans in the Japanese region. Previously, the head of Xbox Creator Experience, Sarah Bond, hinted at bringing more Japanese games to the Xbox platform.
Although the studio has only developed one NFT-based video game, with veteran Tomonobu Itagaki at the helm and with support from Xbox, they may well be capable of delivering outstanding projects and building a solid first-party collection for Xbox.
However, taking this conversation with a grain of salt is highly recommended until there is official confirmation.
Itagaki has previously worked for Xbox but had a significant fallout in 2008 after the release of Ninja Gaiden 2. He sued Xbox and filed a lawsuit for $1 million, alleging that he was not paid bonuses. However, after over 10 years, Itagaki stated in an unedited interview in 2021 that he would be honored to work with Xbox again.
Xbox has never quite achieved the same level of success in Japan as in other regions, but the new Xbox Series S and Game Pass have helped increase their popularity in the country. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is also at risk of falling through after the CMA accused the merger of harming cloud gaming competition.
Microsoft may seek to acquire more gaming studios if the deal falls through, and acquiring Apex Game Studio may be just the beginning.
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