Earlier this month, Bloomberg ran a story about how Microsoft attempted to buy out Nintendo many years ago.
EA, at the time, apparently told Microsoft it had “no clue” how to make a console, while Nintendo supposedly thought Microsoft’s proposal was hilarious, according to Xbox’s former director of third party relations, Kevin Bachus.
In the same Twitch interview alongside Reggie and Jack, Robbie Bach – former president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft and Chief Xbox Officer – was asked to give some insight about this story and spoke about how the tech giant was simply “looking for partners” while exploring “every angle” and Nintendo was obviously located across the street from its own offices.
“In the early days of the Xbox concept, Microsoft didn’t want to do the hard work – that just wasn’t something we knew how to do and so the idea was we were looking for partners. We talked to all the PC manufacturers, we talked to Sega and so we went and talked to Nintendo – they were the big kids on the block for sure, and by the way, they were across the street from our offices, so it wasn’t like we had to make a long trip to go see them.”
“So we had a conversation and the reaction we got was probably what we expected. You know, Microsoft didn’t have all that much to bring to the table, Nintendo was successful and has always been sort of a self-contained company – does a lot of their own content, but Bob and his team explored every angle.”
“Ultimately, we decided to go into the hardware, which was sort of the last option and I know that sounds kinda goofy, but we weren’t a hardware company and so for us to decide we wanted to manufacture hardware was a huge commitment. And we tried a lot of different ways to not do that and in the end, we had to do that ourselves.”
Bach further explained how Microsoft was apparently encouraged by third party companies like Electronic Arts, who wanted somebody else to compete with Sony and Nintendo. In the end, the decision was to go ahead with the Xbox.
“I mean ironically the number one people who were telling us we should do the hardware was actually third-party publishers. People like Electronic Arts and Activision and those guys, they wanted somebody to compete with Sony and Nintendo – so having a third person in the market place was good for them. And they didn’t want somebody to do what 3DO did which was license their hardware to other people, they wanted somebody who had skin in the game on the hardware.”
“So, you know, ‘A.’ we had potential partners who said no, and ‘B.’ we had third party publishers who said “you gotta do this yourself” so that’s what we did.”
While Microsoft and Nintendo obviously didn’t come to an agreement, Xbox went on to acquire the fan favourite Nintendo developer, Rare. Nowadays, the two video game giants maintain relatively good relations – with Microsoft-owned IP recently being represented in Nintendo’s all-star fighter, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Do you think Nintendo would have benefitted from a deal with Microsoft? Share your thoughts below.