Nintendo and Sony Said No to Microsoft’s Plan About Building a Game Console Together


Before starting the development work on the first Xbox back in 2001, when Microsoft decided to enter the console gaming industry, the software giant contacted both Nintendo and Sony to see if either were interested in forming a partnership that would see birth of a video game console developed with joint efforts. Both Nintendo and Sony, however, didn’t take long to turn down the offer and decide to continue on their own. Stories about this failed alliance have been around for years, and now there’s some more information on the topic.

Microsoft Wanted to Partner with Nintendo and Sony to Build a Game Console Together, But it Didn't Work Out

When the first Xbox launched way back in 2001, the gaming industry was changed forever, no longer was it just Nintendo and Sony playing the big game. Microsoft entered the industry bearing strong competition, especially for Sony, which was ardently entering the living rooms of video game enthusiasts with its then newly released PlayStation 2 console. But what if Microsoft never released the Xbox? There was good possibility that we would have gotten to see that version of the future as well.

Ed Fries, co-founder of the Xbox, admitted that there was a possibility that the first Xbox never got made by Microsoft. Speaking about the failed efforts of the company on the latest episode of IGN Unfiltered, Fries said that before deciding to jump into the console realm on its own, Microsoft sat down with late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata to discuss a potential hardware partnership, but quite evidently, the deal didn’t work out. Fries said:

"When we first started thinking about doing Xbox we met with Nintendo and we sat down with [Satoru] Iwata and others and we said, ‘This is what we want to do. Could we do it? Could we partner? Could we work together on this?’ And basically they said no."

Fries went on to explain that Microsoft’s proposition during the sit-in was that Nintendo would be in charge of designing and manufacturing the hardware, while they themselves would handle the software and networking side of things, and in this way, both the companies could work together to build a product, but, he recalls, Nintendo said no.

Bill Gates Himself Wanted a Partnership Deal

It appears that Microsoft boss Bill Gates himself was keen to enter the gaming business by partnering up with one of the two big console makers, so after Nintendo didn’t like the plan, Gates met with Sony officials and presented the same deal, but as it turned out, the Japanese platform holder wasn’t interesting in forming any alliances either. Fries said:

"Then Bill [Gates] met with Sony. Same deal. 'Can we work together? Can we partner?' And they said no."

Following its failed efforts, Microsoft would go on to release the Xbox in November 2001, and compete with Sony on a major level in dominating the living room. The first Xbox was a widely a success, but it still was a huge money-loser, according to Xbox director Robbie Bach, who has said the total losses were as high as $5 billion. Presently, Xbox brand is a key part of Microsoft as a company, and the giant is working to expand further by build one large gaming ecosystem.

In the end, the Xbox co-founder also dispelled the long-running rumor about Microsoft considering to buy Nintendo, saying, "If anyone ever thought about buying Nintendo, I never heard that."