Moore: Microsoft considered buying Nintendo
EA Sports head reminisces about killing the Dreamcast, turning the Xbox into a competitor, and how the industry has passed Rare by.
Peter Moore has been a major player in the gaming industry for the better part of a decade. He was Sega of America president during the Dreamcast launch, a corporate VP at Microsoft since the middle of the original Xbox's life span, and currently serves as the president of Electronic Arts' EA Sports brand. Moore shared some of his experiences from that stretch of time recently with The Guardian tech blogger Keith Stuart, who has been posting excerpts of his interview in multiple parts.
The most eyebrow-raising of the remarks published to date include those about his entry into Microsoft. Moore said that, when meeting with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer before taking the job, the discussion touched upon the issue of acquiring rival console maker Nintendo, even if the main goal was to crush Sony.
"Those were the conversations in those days," Moore said. "It was a classic "build or buy" conversation. Xbox had launched, but it was an aggressive black box for shooters, and how do we evolve that, how do we build the next Xbox, how do we get after Sony?"
Interestingly, not everyone at Microsoft was thrilled with the company's entry into gaming. Although most welcomed it, Moore said, "There was a vocal minority that disagreed with video games as a cultural phenomenon--the content we were doing--we did M rated, we did allow GTA to be published on the platform and I had no issues with that..."
Of course, not all of the content that Microsoft pursued was M-rated. The company also put resources behind games such as Rare's broad-appeal gardening game Viva Pinata, which was supported by a children's television show. However, Moore implied that the game, and even Microsoft's purchase of Rare itself, never paid off.
"We were trying all kinds of classic Rare stuff, and unfortunately I think the industry had passed Rare by," Moore said. "It's a strong statement, but what they were good at, new consumers didn't care about anymore. And it was tough because they were trying very hard--Chris and Tim Stamper were still there--to try and re-create the glory years of Rare, which is the reason Microsoft paid a lot of money for them and I spent a lot of time getting on a train to Twycross to meet them. Great people. But their skill sets were from a different time and a different place and were not applicable in today's market."
Going back to Moore's first gig in the industry, he talked about the Sega Dreamcast, and how it suffered an ignoble death less than two years after its launch. "We had a tremendous 18 months," Moore told The Guardian. "Dreamcast was on fire; we really thought that we could do it. But then we had a target from Japan that said--and I can't remember the exact figures--but we had to make N hundreds of millions of dollars by the holiday season and shift N millions of units of hardware, otherwise we just couldn't sustain the business. So on January 31, 2001, we said that Sega is leaving hardware. Somehow I got to make that call, not the Japanese. I had to fire a lot of people; it was not a pleasant day."
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