Friday, May 24, 2024

Before the original Xbox, Microsoft was considering buying EA, Square, Midway … and Nintendo

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In an attempt to secure exclusives for the original Xbox, Microsoft spoke unsuccessfully about acquiring EA, Square, publisher of Mortal Kombat Midway, and even Nintendo – before finding Bungie’s unexpected trump card. and Halo. Bloomberg Oral History Regarding the creation of the original Xbox (which has a lot more Bill Gates yelling at people than you might think), several Microsoft executives are discussing the company’s attempted acquisitions.

The first company approached was EA – which, due to its dominance in the industry at the time, team members apparently called Snow White to the rest of the Seven Dwarfs in the industry. Bob McBreen, then head of business development, said the answer was “No, thank you” before Microsoft turned to Nintendo.“Steve made us go to meet Nintendo to see if they were considering being acquired,” said then director of third-party relations, Kevin Bachus. “They just laughed at their asses. Like, imagine a time when someone laughed at you. That’s kind of how this meeting went.”

It appears the teams have met more than once, with McBreen adding, “We actually had Nintendo in our building in January 2000 to work out the details of a joint venture where we gave them all the technical specifications for. Xbox. The pitch was their stuff. stinky, and compared to Sony PlayStation it is. So the idea was, “Look, you’re a lot better in the parts of the game with Mario and everything. Why don’t you let us take care of the material? ‘ But that did not work. “

McBreen also explains that a possible takeover of Square went until Microsoft provided a letter of intent to buy the company. “The next day,” he continues, “we sat in their conference room and they said, ‘Our banker would like to make a statement.’ And basically, the banker said, “ Square can’t get this deal done because the price is too low. We packed our bags, headed home, and it was the end of Square. “Finally, Bachus explains that the hapless Midway Games – most famous for releasing the Mortal Kombat series – were “very serious” about their acquisition by Microsoft, but that it turned out to be a low value deal for the company.

Fatally, this time around Microsoft also got a call from Bungie, inquiring about an acquisition – and out of that call was born Halo, almost unarguably Xbox’s most iconic franchise, and helping to cement what Xbox would become accordingly.

Acquisitions are just part of a fascinating article on the very early history of Xbox – I highly recommend you read it if you enjoyed the above. And if you liked hearing the history of Xbox in general, we also have IGN’s own Unlocked Podcast with Xbox Manager Phil Spencer, Former Xbox Manager Peter Moore and Xbox Creator Seamus Blackley.

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s News Editor. Follow him on Twitter. Any advice to give us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to


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