It’s been known for some time that Xbox attempted to purchase Nintendo back in the early days of the brand’s development. Kevin Bachus, one of the original developers on the Xbox, recalled their meeting with Nintendo, which wasn’t very pleasant, as Nintendo “just laughed their asses off.” The following year, Microsoft would return with another proposal for Nintendo: allow the Xbox team to develop the hardware, while Nintendo focuses on the software. As history has shown, Nintendo would go on to deny this offer as well, leading to the formation and legacy of the Xbox seen today.
It’s no longer a secret that Xbox tried to buy Nintendo around the turn of the century, but many people are curious about the negotiations between the two firms. Players may now read (partially) one of the earliest letters received between Microsoft and Nintendo thanks to the virtual Xbox Museum.
Those who visit the Xbox Museum can partially read one of the letters sent by Xbox in its attempts to buy Nintendo. The letter was written in the fall of 1999 by Rick Thompson, the then Vice President of Hardware at Xbox, and addressed to Jacqualee Story, the former Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at Nintendo. Thompson writes, “Dear Jacqualee, I appreciate you taking the time to try to arraign a meeting with Mr. Takeda and Mr. Yamauchi to discuss a possible strategic partnership between Nintendo and Microsoft on future video game platforms.” Genyo Takeda was the former General Manager of Nintendo’s Integrated Reseach and Development team, while Hiroshi Yamauchi was the then President of Nintendo.
Despite a large portion of the letter’s body being covered by other text, some phrases are still readable, reflecting more of the history of these storied companies. This letter predates the revealing of the first official Xbox prototype, with the end of one of Thompson’s sentences, stating, “To continue the development of our Xbox project.” Thompson continues shortly after, likely offering Microsoft’s support for Nintendo in “[making] Dolphin the best video game” console of that time. Famously, Project Dolphin was the code name for the GameCube during its development at Nintendo.
A partnership between Nintendo and Xbox at the turn of the century would have certainly changed the video game landscape. Though Microsoft and Xbox did not have much to show for themselves, it is quite admirable of the companies to try and collaborate with Nintendo. While the partnership doesn’t come close to what these discussions suggested, the modern relationship between Nintendo and Xbox is pretty special. Xbox getting the titular Banjo and Kazooie, and Steve from Minecraft into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is surely evidence of that.
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