Xbox publicly discusses 1999 Nintendo buyout, confidential letter leaked

Microsoft is currently celebrating 20 years of Xbox. On this occasion, the American giant decided to return to its history in different ways. And to dig into his archives, including confidential ones. Some of the topics covered in the celebrations revisit events that took place before the first Xbox was released. And the one in question here also concerns a neighbor and no less a competitor of Microsoft.

An attempt to take over Nintendo by Microsoft did indeed take place in 1999. The information this time is all that there is more official since it was directly revealed by Microsoft. Phil Spencer’s firm has just opened a virtual museum in which gamers can rediscover their personal history with Xbox. But not only.

This site also digs into the brand’s secret archives. And among the confidential documents is a letter that the Xbox Museum entitles “Microsoft is trying to acquire NintendoThe latter dates from October 1999 and is hand-signed by Rick Thompson, then vice-president in charge of hardware at Microsoft.

This letter was intended for Jacqualee Story, then executive vice president in charge of commercial affairs for Nintendo of America. And her goal was to secure a meeting between Microsoft and Genyo Takeda and Hiroshi Yamauchi. The first was at the time one of the hardware managers at Nintendo. The second was the president and great-grandson of the founder of Nintendo. The personalities concerned therefore show the seriousness of the situation.

The letter revealing Microsoft’s attempted takeover of Nintendo.

Microsoft wanted to take care of the Dolphin

If the content of the letter is partially concealed, it still reveals several interesting elements. For example, it is possible to underline that Rick Thompson speaks of a “strategic partnership between Nintendo and Microsoft around future video game platforms. The letter also refers to Genyo Takeda’s “concerns” regarding such a partnership. Concerns that Microsoft has obviously failed to allay.

In its letter, Microsoft visibly evokes its Xbox project. But he also talks about his desire to help Nintendo to “Dolphin the best (console) game.” For information, “Dolphin“was the code name of the Game Cube. At first glance, it is possible to wonder what the intentions of the American giant were here.

As a reminder, Microsoft alumni revealed earlier this year that their idea was to take care of the hardware side and let Nintendo focus on making the games. According to Bob Mcbreen, then head of business development, Nintendo’s hardware was “sucks compared to that of Sony’s PlayStation“at the time.

Between Microsoft and Nintendo, it did not match

The letter in question today therefore suggests that Microsoft was considering merging the Xbox and GameCube projects. And as these recent testimonials have shown, the underlying urge was the Nintendo buyout. The meeting requested by Microsoft, however, did not go as Microsoft hoped. Kevin Bachus, then director of third-party publisher relations at Microsoft, summed up the meeting as follows:

Steve (Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014, editor’s note) took us to Nintendo to see if they would consider being bought out. And they were just laughing out loud. Imagine someone laughing at you for an hour. This is a bit like how this meeting went.

Obviously, Kevin Bachus uses a metaphor here to describe this meeting. But this serves to underline that Nintendo was clearly not interested. Finally, it is interesting to see Microsoft publicly and officially evoke its intentions to buy the Evoque vis-à-vis Nintendo.

For a long time, actors of the time claimed that there was no question of buying Nintendo. Ed Fries, co-creator of the first Xbox, for example claimed in 2016 that he did not “never heard of it“a possible takeover of Nintendo. It is now possible to say with certainty that such a takeover was nevertheless well envisaged.

What does this letter inspire you? Would you have liked Microsoft to buy out Nintendo? Do you think such a rapprochement could have worked? Give us your opinion in the comments below.

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