According to a new oral history report, Microsoft apparently set forth to purchase Nintendo to secure first-party games for its Xbox gaming division. But in response to the proposition, the Japanese video game company not only declined the offer but laughed at Microsoft executives.
“Steve [Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired,” said Kevin Bachus, Microsoft’s former director of third-party relations for Xbox. “They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.”
During the early days of Xbox, Microsoft met with numerous developers with offers to help flesh out the offering of games for its flagship console. The report goes on to note that at one point Microsoft was in talks to enter a join partnership with Nintendo leveraged by its advanced tech.
“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,” Bob McBreen, then head of Xbox business development. “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.”
Head over to Bloomberg to read the oral history of Microsoft Xbox in full.