Bloomberg published a lengthy feature about 20 Years of Microsoft’s Xbox, with an interesting anecdote about the company’s relationship with Nintendo.
The team behind the original Xbox apparently met with Nintendo at some point “to see if they would consider being acquired”, apparently in an attempt to secure exclusives for Microsoft’s new console.
Buying Nintendo … sureeee
However, it seems that the meeting did not go too well;
Former director of third-party relations Kevin Bachus
Steve [Ballmer, ex-Microsoft CEO] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.
Head of business development Bob McBreen said that Microsoft also invited Nintendo to their offices in January 2000 to discuss the possibility of a joint venture where Xbox would make the hardware while Nintendo handled software.
Head of business development Bob McBreen
We actually had Nintendo in our building in January 2000 to work through the details of a joint venture where we gave them all the technical specs of the Xbox.
The pitch was their hardware stunk, and compared to Sony PlayStation, it did. So the idea was, ‘Listen, you’re much better at the game portions of it with Mario and all that stuff. Why don’t you let us take care of the hardware?’ But it didn’t work out.
How things could have been very very different .. well Im still glad to see how things have gone.