Over 20 years ago, when Microsoft was preparing to release the original Xbox, some at the company were worried that they would not have enough games to accompany the console at launch. So someone had the bright idea to go and try to buy Nintendo. Problem solved.
The only catch was that Nintendo, as we learned earlier this year, “laughed their ass”. Kevin Bachus, Microsoft’s former director of third-party relationships with Xbox, summed up the meeting:
Steve [Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO] got us to meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed at them. Imagine an hour where someone just laughs at you. That was the way the meeting went.
Relentless. Anyway! It’s all water under the bridge in 2021, and in keeping with the spirit of looking back, Microsoft used its 20th anniversary memorial to release some primary evidence of the purchase attempt with (partial) publication of this 1999 letter from Vice President Rick Thompson to Nintendo of America.
It’s a bit ruined by the huge text being sprayed across the middle, but we can read enough around the edges to get the tone. “I Understand Mr. Takeda’s Concerns” is certainly an understatement given Nintendo’s ultimate response, and Microsoft is offering to help “make Dolphin the best video game [console]”Is interesting, and not as absurd as it first sounds, as the original Xbox and GameCube (Dolphin was its codename) would continue to be very different experiences.
We can also see at the bottom the two people Microsoft would meet with; longtime Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi and hardware legend Genyo Takeda. I’m not sure if the two were present when the robbers were laughed at, but I would think Yamauchi was suffocating a laugh in the corner like a true statesman.
If you want to try to scroll through the edited sections, here is the picture that Microsoft shared: