More Details on When Microsoft Tried to Partner With Nintendo and Sony for a Game Console

"They said no."


Before Microsoft released the original Xbox in 2001, the company attempted to form a gaming partnership with Nintendo and Sony. Stories about these efforts have appeared online throughout the years, and now we know a little more.

Speaking about the failed Nintendo partnership in a new interview, Xbox co-creator Ed Fries said Microsoft proposed Nintendo make the hardware, leaving software (i.e. OS) and networking duties to the Windows company. Nintendo said no.

"When we first started thinking about doing Xbox, we met with Nintendo," Fries said in an interview with IGN. "We sat down with [late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata] and others and we said, 'This is what we want to do, could we partner? Could we work together on this?' And basically they said no."

Fries recalled that Microsoft said during the sit-down, "We could do the software and the networking stuff, you guys could do the hardware, and we could team up and put out a product together.' They said no."

After this, then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates met with Sony to discuss a similar deal. "Can we work together? Can we partner?" Fries said Gates asked. "And they said no."

Fries' comments came in response to a question about if there was any truth to the rumors that Microsoft attempted to buy Nintendo. If this was ever discussed internally, Fries didn't know about it, apparently. "Actually, if anyone [at Microsoft] thought about buying Nintendo, I never heard that," he said.

Microsoft would go on to release the Xbox in November 2001, in part to try to stop Sony from dominating the living room, former Xbox director Robbie Bach said earlier this year. Bach also said that the original Xbox was a huge money-loser to the tune of $5 billion. It was a loss that Microsoft could afford to take because of its successes in other markets, including Windows.

Not everyone inside of Microsoft supported the idea to make a console; some wanted to "kill" the Xbox and said Microsoft should instead focus on Windows and other enterprise endeavors, according to Bach.

Microsoft isn't the only company that wanted to work with the two industry goliaths. Before the PlayStation 1, Sony and Nintendo worked together on a "Nintendo PlayStation" console. Prototypes were even created before the two companies, now rivals, separated.

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