FTC says Microsoft leaked its own stuff, Phil Spencer downplays relevance of confidential docs

Phil Spencer at a hearing related to Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard in San Francisco, June 2023.
Phil Spencer at a June evidentiary hearing regarding the FTC's attempt to block Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. (Image credit: Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

Following a huge leak of confidential Microsoft documents which revealed apparent plans for a new Xbox controller and Xbox Series X refresh, it looks clear that Microsoft itself is responsible for the accidental info dump.

The FTC is currently battling Microsoft in court over its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard, and as with any legal inquiry into a company's business plans, stacks of internal Microsoft documents have been requested as evidence. Some of those documents are made available to the public unredacted, but courts usually allow companies to redact or entirely withhold particularly sensitive documents from public eyes. Although some internet onlookers jumped to blame the FTC for these confidential files appearing on a court server earlier this week, the FTC and judge indicate otherwise.

@DouglasLFarrar: The FTC was not responsible for uploading Microsoft's plans for its games and consoles to the court website.

(Image credit: Douglas Farrar)

"The FTC was not responsible for uploading Microsoft's plans for its games and consoles to the court website," FTC public affairs director Douglas Farrar wrote on X today. He followed that statement with an image of Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley's order to remove the documents from the public server, drawing attention to the bit that notes that "Microsoft provided the link" to the files containing its non-public information.

The documents were not removed fast enough to stop the public and journalists from downloading all of them, of course, and with the caveat that some of the emails and spreadsheets are several years old, we've learned some interesting things about Microsoft's internal thinking, such as that it had a real interest in acquiring Nintendo or Valve. We also saw plans for a DualSense-like new Xbox controller and new version of the Xbox Series X.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer minimized the relevance of the documents today, saying in a brief statement that it's "hard" to see his department's work leaked like this because "much has changed" since the documents were created. "We will share the real plans when we are ready," he concluded.

Phil Spencer: 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.

(Image credit: Phil Spencer)

Among the leaked plans most relevant to PC gamers are Dishonored 3 and remasters of Oblivion and Fallout 3, though opinions will vary on whether or not we should hope those are the "real" plans. Fraser would prefer a Fallout: New Vegas remaster, but I know some Fallout 3 fans and Oblivion-heads who'd be pretty psyched if those happened. 

And it isn't really my cup of tea, but I'd be happy for Arkane and two-thirds of PC Gamer—a staff notoriously well-stocked with immersive sim fans—if Dishonored 3 is really happening.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.