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Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo and EA ahead of the original Xbox launch

Mario
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Microsoft reportedly attempted to buy some of the biggest names in gaming, including Nintendo, to create exclusive titles for the original Xbox. 

In a new report from Bloomberg, many of the people who worked on the console in the run-up to its release outlined attempts to acquire the likes of Nintendo, EA, and Square Enix.

Having announced the Xbox in 2000, Microsoft was looking around for games for its new system and the developers who would make them. According to Bob McBreen, then head of business development, "the first company we reached out to buy was EA." That offer was met with a swift "'no thanks,'" so Microsoft turned its attention to Japanese giant Nintendo.

Kevin Bachus, director of the console's third-party relations, said "Steve [Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired." Apparently, however, that conversation did not go well: "They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went."

Bloomberg's report also touches on unsuccessful attempts to purchase Square Enix, as well as Mortal Kombat developer Midway. The former told Microsoft that its asking price was too low, while the latter was still attached to its business with PlayStation. Eventually, it worked out for Microsoft. They would *ahem* settle for Halo developer Bungie, creating one of the Xbox's most successful and enduring franchises.

While the acquisition of a company as massive as Nintendo might have been unthinkable in the early days of the Xbox, Microsoft's purchase of Zenimax Media, announced last year and expected to complete in a few months' time, brought the likes of Bethesda, Arkane, and Id Software into the Xbox family.

If you're looking to a little more up to date with Microsoft's gaming efforts, here's where to buy an Xbox Series X.

Ali Jones

I'm GamesRadar's deputy news editor, working with Ben T across our gaming news articles. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.