Microsoft toyed with the idea of buying Nintendo during the planning stages of its original Xbox console. The US firm also considered offering the games console away for free, as revealed in a recent interview.
GamesIndustry spoke to original Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley and Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning about the early days of the Xbox – Microsoft's first foray into the video game console industry. Interestingly it seems Microsoft saw Nintendo, not Sony as the one to beat.
"Blackley noted that a number of other ideas were pushed around at Microsoft too," reads the interview. "Some people said Xbox should be focused on playing movies, or that all the games would have to be made by Microsoft. Some even pushed the notion that Microsoft should make a huge play and just gobble up Nintendo."
"Just name it, name a bad idea and it was something we had to deal with," Blackley said.
Lanning meanwhile was one of the developers Microsoft was wooing for its new device thanks to his work creating the Oddworld series. "At the time, Xbox thought that the core market was going to be casual. They were going to be the casual gamers' machine," he said.
"That's why they approached us because they said 'we think you've got something that competes in that Mario space and we think Mario's the thing to kill... We see that space. We want that audience. We love Oddworld so why don't you get on this bandwagon? And we might give the [Xbox] away'.
"So now you're like, 'look, if you're going to give the box away, you're going to win. If you're going to win, we want to be on board'."
Of course none of this happened. Microsoft released the Xbox in 2001 and their killer app ended up being Bungie's Halo: Combat Evolved. Lanning meanwhile worked on Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, which also launched with the console.