The Japanese company’s reaction to the offer was effectively laughing straight for an hour at the American committee!
Microsoft has been pretty aggressive with acquisitions (but they aren’t on the same level as Embracer Group that now owns Saber Interactive, THQ Nordic, Deep Silver, and many more…). Just think of them purchasing Bethesda (but we can also name studios, such as Double Fine or Obsidian). But Microsoft previously tried a similar approach in the past.
Kevin Bachus, who was a member of the original Xbox team in the early 2000s, revealed on Bloomberg that the Redmond-based company had balls two decades ago to try some bold attempts: „Steve [Ballmer – Microsoft’s CEO between 2000 and 2014] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went,” he said.
And despite that, Microsoft did not give up. After the initial purchasing offer was dumped, they tried to offer the big N a technical partnership: „We 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. 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,” Bachus added. Remember, the Nintendo 64 used cartridges (with a maximum of 64 MB size, while the PS1 used CDs…), giving it a bit of disadvantage.
The bonus joke here is that Microsoft also tried to negotiate with Midway, Square Enix, and even Electronic Arts – they were close to finalizing a deal with Square Enix, but even that ended up off the table.