It has been two decades since Microsoft first announced the Xbox. It was unveiled at CES in 2001. Bloomberg has published a history of how the console came to be and it has some interesting details. Microsoft considered using its financial might to buy developers and approached Nintendo about an acquisition.
They were laughed out of the room, according to Kevin Bachus, a director for third-party relations on the Xbox project. “They just laughed their asses off,” Bachus said to Bloomberg. “Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went.”
Remember, at the time, Nintendo was lagging behind Sony badly when it comes to hardware. So Microsoft would take on hardware production and leave Nintendo to the software. “We actually had Nintendo in our building in January 2000 to work through the details of a joint venture where we gave them all the technical specs of the Xbox,” said the head of business development Bob Mcbreen. “The pitch was their hardware stunk, and compared to Sony PlayStation, it did. So the idea was, ‘Listen, you’re much better at the game portions of it with Mario and all that stuff. Why don’t you let us take care of the hardware?’ But it didn’t work out.”
There were a few other notable developers who passed on the company’s offers too. EA was the first company that Microsoft reached out to and they passed. so did Square and Midway.
One acquisition that did go through and was big for Microsoft. Bungie. Halo: Combat Evolved arrived along with the first Xbox in November of 2001 and people loved it.