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Two decades before their huge Super Smash Bros. collaborations Nintendo laughed Microsoft out of the room from an acquisition proposal

They also tried buying EA, Square and Midway

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • January 7, 2021 at 8:09 a.m. PST • Comments: 12

Microsoft and Nintendo have been cozying up to each other a good bit over the past few years between getting Banjo-Kazooie and Minecraft's Steve into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Switch receiving previously Xbox exclusive games, but that certainly wasn't always the case.

During the development of the original Xbox, Microsoft approached a number of the gaming industry's largest developers for the prospect of buying them up, including Nintendo, but the makers of Mario just "laughed their asses off" when they met for the proposal.

The humorous but impactful revelation came from Bloomberg's recent oral history of Xbox which features quotes and stories from a number of Microsoft higher-ups and other developers.

EA was apparently the first publisher approached by Microsoft for acquisition talks, but they quickly rejected the offer which led to the mega corporation setting their sights on Nintendo.

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

Their reported pitch was to essentially say that Nintendo's games are great, but their hardware stinks, which means they could just focus on development and leave MS to work on the console.

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

One talk did gain some traction though that could have reshaped parts of the fighting game community which was their talks with Midway, who were apparently quite open to being acquired.

Microsoft were apparently the ones to back out of that deal for not really needing or seeing value in what Midway had to offer in return.

It's interesting to think that Mortal Kombat could have been an Xbox exclusive after MK4, but Midway would file for bankruptcy in 2009 which lead to Warner Bros. picking up NetherRealm Studios.

Square Enix (Square Soft at the time) also got an acquisition proposal, but they refused for the offer being too low.

Microsoft would ultimately form strong partnerships with Sega and Koei that produced exclusives like Ninja Gaiden, Shenmue 2, Dead or Alive and more for the original Xbox.

Now the two console makers appear quite chummy with Microsoft releasing Cuphead and Ori and the Blind Forest on the Switch plus rumors of something tied to the Xbox Game Pass also making its way to the hybrid system floating around for years now.

There's a whole lot more to the over two decade history of Xbox, including how the console almost got scrapped, so we recommend checking out Bloomberg's full story for more entertaining and interesting tales.

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