For fans of Xbox, it’s a bit hard to believe that the console has been around for two decades. The launch of the Xbox vaulted Microsoft into the living room as a core component of the gaming industry but getting the hardware out the door was not an easy task.
With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at the early challenges Microsoft faced looks minuscule when compared to the success of the platform. Sure, the PlayStation from Sony will outsell the Xbox consoles but the company is firmly cemented in the fast-growing industry and it is uniquely positioned for long-term success.
In a new, and well-written, writeup about the launch of the console, Dina Bass was able to chat with many of the key players who were instrumental in the development of the hardware. If you care about how the sausage is made, you will want to read the post.
One of the tidbits from the interviews is that Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo and failed. This information isn’t all the new and had been reported from the Nintendo vantage point but when Microsoft tried to acquire the company, they pitched that Nintendo was producing inferior hardware with superior software – they could build great games but the consoles were underpowered.
Their pitch was to let Microsoft build the hardware and have Nintendo build the games:
“Steve (Ballmer) made us (Kevin Bachus) 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.”
Thankfully, Microsoft was not able to buy Nintendo. Even to this day, Nintendo hardware is still underpowered compared to rivals from Sony and Microsoft but the company has mastered the art of creating compelling videogames for consoles.
Nintendo has proven that high-powered hardware isn’t what’s needed to make great games and it’s a lesson that continues to ring true throughout the entire gaming community.