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Microsoft once tried buying EA and Nintendo for Xbox, Nintendo 'laughed their asses off'

EA Play Official Image
EA Play Official Image (Image credit: Electronic Arts)

What you need to know

  • A new report from Bloomberg sheds additonal light on the challenges the original Xbox faced.
  • Microsoft tried purchasing several big gaming companies to help Xbox, including Electronic Arts and Nintendo.
  • These purchases obviously did not pan out.

Microsoft's original Xbox had an uphill battle in getting early support and part of the plan for getting said support involved the potential of massive purchases. In a report from Bloomberg, these early struggles are well-documented, with multiple former executives at Microsoft offering comments. Steve Ballmer, then-CEO of Microsoft, was particularly interested in major acquisitions to help Xbox out.

"Steve made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed their asses off," said Kevin Bachus, director of third-party relations for Xbox at the time. "Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went."

Microsoft also approached EA, who simply said "No, thanks," according to Bob McBreen, head of business development. Talks were held with Midway and Square which went better but also failed to work out.

While these kinds of big purchases were scoffed at, Microsoft has been steadily building its first-party lineup through a series of acquisitions over the last couple of years. This renewed investment has seen the addition of multiple studios and Microsoft is currently acquiring ZeniMax Media, adding an entire publisher, Bethesda Softworks, to the Xbox lineup. According to Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft will consider buying more video game companies for Xbox in the future.

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

15 Comments
  • The context of the buyout is Microsoft trying to scoop away Nintendo's sovereignty during the Nintendo 64 generation, one of their best periods of game development, after Nintendo had just released the most technically powerful console of that generation. This is on top of 2 generations of console domination over its competitors. Sony wasn't even on their radar yet.
  • They have the money to boost Xbox department but to boost the windows experience for non business users is not in any interest? Where is this company going? Gaming and business.. They lose more and more people to google.. I think they are on the line to shot them self in the foot. Maybe try to expend the partnership with Samsung to maybe get windows to phoned and take back the everage uses. I think it will help both Samsung and Microsoft to have a microsoft/Samsung department.
  • this was before even the xbox 360 lol
    did you read the article? i
  • I think you're confused
  • Kindly read the article, please
  • If MS has lots of money. Why can't they just start a big studio, creat new IPs as well. Or is it better to buy the studios?
  • It's easier to buy other studios, but I agree, they should work on original IPs. Something cinematic with a large team and budget. Just to get some game of the year bait, to change the narrative.
  • Universally for the acquisition vs. build question, if there's a party available to acquire and the funds to do it, that's the easier and safer path. It's safer to buy than build, because you can look at an existing studio's success and accomplishments and have reasonable confidence what that means for the future (though sometimes independent teams lose their zeal when they become a cog in a larger machine). Starting from scratch, even with known people, is a gamble -- it might work out well, could fail completely. And in the event the gamble fails, that could be years lost.
  • Borderline clickbait article
  • Well shows you how classy Nintendo is. At least EA was more professional about it.
  • Imagine being the #2 video game company in the world and a company who had just gotten into game consoles wanted to buy your company. I'd laugh, too.
  • If it had been enough money, there would have been less laughs and more handshakes. That's how the world works.
  • Sega was good too.
  • They think : but how many for this game, how many ?
    We bought Rare.
  • Because Nintedont and EA-whatashame "just works". Said todd Howard.
    Wait....