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
Freelance Writer

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.