For nearly two decades, there have been three main console hardware manufacturers: Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox.
However, there’s a world where there may have only been two major console makers if former executives at Microsoft had their way.
Speaking to Bloomberg as part of a larger oral history on the creation of the Xbox, Kevin Bachus, Microsoft’s former director of third-party relations, revealed that prior to the Xbox’s launch in 2001, the company had unsuccessfully tried to acquire Nintendo.
“Steve [Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired,” said Bachus. “They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.”
Bachus also revealed that Microsoft had meetings with Electronic Arts, Midway Games and Square, which, evidently, didn’t pan out, either.
Elsewhere in Bloomberg‘s reporting, Bob McBreen, then head of Xbox business development, even said Microsoft tried to initiate a joint venture with Nintendo.
“The pitch was their hardware stunk, and compared to Sony PlayStation, it did,” said McBreen. “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.”
While Microsoft and Nintendo have remained competitors ever since the companies have worked together in several prominent ways in recent years.
During the time in 2018 when Sony was against cross-play, Microsoft and Nintendo teamed up to promote the fact that those who played the former’s Minecraft game on either Xbox or Nintendo platforms could do so together online. Microsoft has also brought characters and other content from its Banjo-Kazooie and Minecraft franchises to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Still, it makes you wonder how different the games industry would have been if Mario and Master Chief both belonged to Microsoft.
Image credit: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon