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Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo, but got laughed out of the room



It’s hard for us to believe that it has been 20 years since Microsoft first introduced the Xbox, its console gaming platform.

Bloomberg has published an extensive oral history about how the Xbox came to be. Although it’s a fascinating read, one section stands out: details about Microsoft’s attempts to secure titles for its upcoming system.

Specifically, the Xbox was unveiled at CES in 2001 – to commemorate that launch.

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Microsoft tried to convince third-party developers that they work on the Xbox. However, it also considered buying developers using its huge financial resources. Microsoft had high hopes when it approached Nintendo to discuss a possible takeover.

Kevin Bachus, the director of third-party relations for the Xbox project, said that Microsoft was laughed at.

They just laughed their asses off.

Kevin Bachus

Bloomberg was told by Bachus that the people laughed all the way through. This is how the meeting ended.

Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.

Kevin Bachus

Microsoft’s unique proposition made sense in some ways. In terms of hardware, Nintendo was far behind Sony at the time. Microsoft figured that it could handle hardware manufacturing while Nintendo specialized in software.

Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo but…

Bob McBreen, Director of Business Development (1998-2000), said that Nintendo was actually present in his building in January 2000 for the details of a joint venture. He gave them all technical specifications of the Xbox. “The pitch was that their hardware was stunk and it did, compared to the Sony PlayStation. The idea was to say, “Listen, Mario is much better at the game portion of it with all the stuff.” It didn’t work.

Although this purchase is perhaps the most famous, Microsoft also made offers to other well-known developers. Microsoft first reached out to Electronic Arts, but the software giant refused with a simple “no,” while Microsoft also met with Square Enix (now Square Enix), and Midway, who are the creators of Mortal Kombat.

Microsoft acquired the franchise that has been its flagship Xbox since its inception. One acquisition did not go through. Bungie was an unknown developer at the time. However, Halo: Combat Evolved, which was released along with the Xbox 1 in November 2001, received instant praise.

It is not difficult to believe that the Xbox game gave it instant credibility and helped it seize a significant portion of the gaming market, despite the dominance of Sony and Nintendo.

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  1. Jason Hamilton

    2022-07-18 at 13:44

    Honestly glad that Nintendo gets to keep being Nintendo. I’m mostly a PC-first, graphics-obsessed person, but I love the Switch and the games on it.

  2. Brian Bartram

    2022-07-18 at 13:45

    The problem with Microsoft has always been the same… Trying to brute force or throw money, their first choice isn’t finding or promoting talent… The same reason TECMO, RARE and hopefully not BETHESDA never went to the next level… The mentality is flawed regardless of the Terra flops or the millions and billions

  3. Amit Kumar

    2022-07-18 at 13:46

    Nintendo’s latest hardware is always a generation behind Sony and MS. Their hardware does stink.

    Nintendo would be able to make games with even greater scope if they made them for other platforms. Simple as that.

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