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Nintendo Pulled No Punches Turning Xbox Down

Once upon a time, Microsoft actually made Nintendo an offer to purchase the high profile Japanese developer. Unfortunately, Microsoft felt the sting of defeat after Nintendo laughed its offer right out of the room.

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In Bloomberg's recently published oral history of the original Xbox, former Microsoft director of third-party relations Kevin Bachus described the meeting as harsh, stating, "They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went." That kind of criticism is always hard to cope with, but imagine that laughter coming from a panel of businessmen.

At the time, Microsoft attempted to court several big name studios, including Square (pre-Enix merger). However, most of these companies passed on Microsoft's lowball offers, holding out for a better deal or more creative freedom. In the case of Microsoft, the company just wanted to secure a few beloved properties to help launch its new system and build the Xbox's reputation. Nintendo has its fair share of tricks under its belt as well, but that didn't stop Nintendo executives from having a chuckle at Xbox's expense.

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After all, Nintendo was doing well at the time, preparing for the launch of the GameCube. Of course, Nintendo's no stranger to failure, and several of its systems have performed poorly on the market. Even so, Nintendo has always been forward-thinking in its technology, even if it doesn't always work out. A few failures wasn't enough to convince Nintendo to settle and sell to Microsoft.

The Bloomberg article also features a discussion with Bob McBreen, who worked in business development for Microsoft at the time. McBreen explains that Microsoft simply had a poor pitch. McBreen said, "The pitch was their hardware stunk, and compared to Sony PlayStation, it did."

McBreen describes the proposed acquisition as a sort of meeting of the minds. Nintendo's skill and success with popular first-party games and characters like Mario and Link, among others, seemed like a natural fit for Microsoft's Xbox, which boasted impressive graphics and performance. However, Nintendo found Xbox's offer preposterous, which resulted in the laughter that ended the meeting.

Even though Microsoft has certainly made mistakes in the past, the gaming giant continues to be successful. Microsoft has aquired other game developers, growing its portfolio of properties and shocking the gaming world in the process. Even though the merger with Nintendo didn't turn out the way Microsoft had hoped, the company has managed to prosper in the gaming industry.

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