Back in 1999, when Microsoft was first preparing to enter the console space, the company explored various means by which it could secure strong first-party software output, including what turned out to be a very one-sided interest in the computer giant trying to buy Nintendo. Nintendo was not compelled by Microsoft’s early advances, with the company’s former third-party relations director Kevil Bachus stating that Nintendo “just laughed their asses off” in a meeting to discuss a potential acquisition.
Now, we have an all new look at some background from Microsoft’s ill-fated attempt to buy Nintendo. Through its newly launched Xbox 20th anniversary memorial site, Microsoft has shared a heavily obscured letter that vice president Rick Thompson sent to Nintendo of America, pictured below.
It’s tough to read most of the message thanks to a giant text overlay reading “Microsoft tries to acquire Nintendo,” but you can still see a few interesting tidbits. Standing out is Microsoft’s offer to “make Dolphin [the developing name for the GameCube] the best video game [console].” It’s tough to imagine how the GameCube would have turned out with influence from Microsoft. While not a perfect indicator, the Xbox went on to be a radically different system than the GameCube, boasting its own line of exclusives and the Xbox Live online network. Neither system made much of a splash against the dominant PS2, but it’s fun to see old documents such as this one and imagine how differently things might have gone if Microsoft were actually successful in a bid to buy Nintendo – though I’m happy to have the two giants as competing players in the console game, personally.