Microsoft Tried For A Surprising Partnership Before Creating The Xbox


Did you know that before Microsoft released the original Xbox in 2001, the company attempted to form a partnership with Nintendo and Sony?

Stories about these would-be dream teams have floated around for a few years, but now Xbox co-creator Ed Fries has stepped forward to shed a little light on the situation.

Fries revealed to IGN that Microsoft approached Nintendo first:

When we first started thinking about doing Xbox, we met with Nintendo. We sat down with [late Nintendo CEO] Satoru Iwata and others and we said, ‘This is what we want to do, could we partner? Could we work together on this?’ And basically they said no.

Fries recalled that Microsoft would have handled software and networking duties while Nintendo made the hardware. Considering Nintendo’s history and (near infamous) protectiveness regarding their own IPs, it’s perhaps understandable that they weren’t keen.


After dusting themselves down from the Nintendo rejection, then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates met with Sony to discuss a similar deal. As we now know, they also said nope.

Fries’ comments were in response to a question on the rumours that Microsoft once attempted to buy Nintendo, though he revealed that if it was ever discussed internally, he never heard anything.

Of course, Microsoft eventually went it alone and came up with the Xbox. While it’s a fondly remembered console, former Xbox director Robbie Bach recently revealed that the original Xbox actually made a loss of $5 billion.

Would Microsoft and Nintendo have made the ultimate console? Or perhaps Sony and Microsoft could have created something beautiful? We’ll simply never know.