Microsoft Approached Nintendo 20 Years Ago in a Bid To Buy the Company
As a new competitor in the gaming industry, Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo and the results were about what you would expect.
Leading up to the release of the original Xbox console, Microsoft tried to change the face of gaming as we know it. Bloomberg recently published a piece regarding the 20th anniversary of Xbox and the history that came with it.
In the article, several Microsoft and Xbox staff members of present and past talk about their ventures on creating the Xbox brand and arguably the most interesting topic, acquiring video game companies. Bob McBreen who was Head of Business Development at the time spoke on how Microsoft tried to acquire Electronic Arts, but they declined. Kevin Bachus (ex-director of third-party relations) detailed the conversations had with EA explaining “We met with EA a half-dozen times. They reminded us, Microsoft had a history of putting its toe in the water, and when things didn’t work out, they would abandon that market and pretend like it never happened.”
Throughout the attempt of an acquisition spree, Microsoft tried to buy Midway who at the time was the developer of Mortal Kombat. The company also spoke with Square (now Square Enix) which seemingly was the closest they got to a deal being made, but fell through as the price was not high enough and Microsoft was not willing to go higher.
The most notorious and bizarre talks however were with Nintendo. Bachus said “They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.” That being said, their relationship with the Japanese company didn’t end there. According to McBreen, the company visited their office in January of 2000 so Microsoft could show Nintendo the power of the Xbox and form and partnership to put their software on the console, but that conversation also did not get far. Howard Lincoln the chairman of Nintendo of America refused to go into detail on the history proclaiming “Nintendo does not talk about confidential discussions with other companies. In any event, nothing came of these discussions.”
Despite the Nintendo acquisition, today Xbox and Nintendo’s relationship has flourished where we’ve seen Banjo-Kazooie and Minecraft Steve come to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Xbox titles like Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Unless an unexpected fallout happens it seems that their partnership will only grow from here.
You can read the full article pertaining to Xbox’s 20th anniversary over on Bloomberg, but it does require a subscription to gain access after a free trial.