Microsoft mistakenly reveals secret game plans in court case

Customers stand near the Microsoft logo during the Microsoft Xbox One X game console global launch event in New York, US, on Monday, 6 November 2017. (Photo: Mark Kauzlarich / Bloomberg)

Microsoft mistakenly provided confidential information about its video game operations to a federal court website.

The documents revealed Monday were exhibits in the FTC’s antitrust suit to stop Microsoft from completing its $69-billion takeover of game giant Activision Blizzard. They contain proprietary information about Microsoft’s plans for a refreshed Xbox console, upcoming unannounced video games and older discussions around purchasing Nintendo.

The judge in the case was notified that the exhibits included nonpublic information and said in an order Tuesday that they had been removed from the court site.

Future plans regarding new consoles, upcoming titles and M&A discussions are closely guarded secrets in the video game world, meaning Microsoft’s inadvertent disclosure will be of keen interest to other players. The company’s video game chief, Phil Spencer, poured cold water on the idea that the information was all that revealing, saying in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the documents and emails were outdated.

“So much has changed,” he wrote. “We will share the real plans when we are ready.”

In June, Spencer told Bloomberg that he didn’t “feel an imperative” to release an update to the current Xbox. The documents describe plans from as recently as 2022 for a new device intended for 2024.

The mishap occurred on September 14, when Microsoft provided the exhibits to the court for upload to the internet page established for the case, according to the judge’s order.

“The FTC was not responsible for uploading Microsoft’s plans for its games and consoles to the court website,” the agency’s director of public affairs wrote on X.

In June, confidential documents pertaining to Sony Group leaked as part of the FTC case. The files described Sony’s revenue from Activision’s Call of Duty and game-development costs.


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