Microsoft Tried to Buy Nintendo Before Releasing the First Xbox

While Nintendo and Microsoft are on very good terms at the moment, that wasn't always the case. In a new piece for Bloomburg, Microsoft discussed the 20th anniversary of the original Xbox, recalling a time when the company was considering purchasing Nintendo. According to Kevin Bachus, Microsoft's former director of third-party relations, the company first attempted a purchase of Electronic Arts, but the offer was politely declined. Nintendo, on the other hand, laughed off the company's offer. Microsoft has always had deep pockets, but Nintendo's war chest of funds has long been the stuff of legend. Additionally, Nintendo has frequently stated its intentions of remaining in the hardware industry.

Full quotes from Bloomburg can be found below.

BOB MCBREEN: (head of business development) The first company we reached out to buy was EA. They said, "No, thanks," and then Nintendo.

BACHUS: Steve [Ballmer, former 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.

Undeterred, Microsoft apparently made a second attempt at a partnership, offering to develop hardware for the company. While Microsoft enjoyed Nintendo's software, they argued that the company's hardware could use some work. Obviously, things did not work out, and Microsoft released the original Xbox just a few short days before the launch of the Nintendo GameCube.

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.

BALLMER: I remember loving their content.

Nintendo might have been a bit offended by Microsoft's overtures, but things have clearly changed over the last two decades. In the years since those offers were made, Nintendo has had multiple successful consoles, most notably Switch. Microsoft has released several games for Nintendo's current platform, and two of Microsoft's characters have been added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Minecraft's Steve, and Banjo-Kazooie. After spending the last 20 years as rivals, it's clear that the companies have gained a strong respect for one another.


Would you have liked to see a partnership between Microsoft and Nintendo? Do you think Nintendo made the right decision? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!