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Microsoft Reveals Letter It Used To Try And Buy Nintendo 20 Years Ago

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Microsoft Reveals Letter It Used To Try And Buy Nintendo 20 Years Ago

In the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Xbox, Microsoft has shown off a snippet of the letter it sent to Nintendo to try and acquire the Japanese company. 


This bold move was divulged in a report from Bloomberg from earlier this year, describing Microsoft’s attempts to sway a number of developers to make exclusives for the new Xbox. "We actually 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," said head of business development Bob McBreen. 

"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?'” An intriguing statement then as well as now, considering the transformations that Nintendo had undergone by that point in its history. 

All of those years, all of those achievements, all of those unmissable moments... leading up to the official Xbox mini fridge. Check it out here!



Nintendo was established in 1889 and made its name producing handmade hanafuda playing cards. However, following the impact of the Second World War on Japan and the change in how adults spent their free time, Nintendo needed to diversify or die out. Between 1963 and 1968, it invested in a number of unsuccessful ventures including instant rice, a chain of love hotels and a taxi service. 

It then took a risk into developing electronic toys alongside classic games like chess, shogi, mahjong and others. This went well, fortunately, and at the end of the 1970s, Nintendo shifted its research and development teams into the areas of video games and consoles. You know the rest of the story. 


The letter itself is visible in the browser-based museum that Microsoft has set up to celebrate its console’s 20th trip around the sun. Sent in 1999, it’s addressed to Jacqualee Story, Nintendo of America's former executive vice president of business, and written by Nick Thompson, Microsoft's former vice president of hardware.

"Dear Jacqualee, I appreciate you taking the time to try to arrange a meeting with Mr. Takeda and Mr. Yamauchi to discuss a possible strategic partnership between Nintendo and Microsoft on future video game platforms. I understand Mr. Takeda's concerns about the possible partnership and will try to [illegible] the guidelines he has requested,” reads the letter. 


Some of it is obscured but we do see references to Project Dolphin, which was the codename for the GameCube. Ultimately, these conversations did not bear fruit, but it was a humbling experience for Microsoft. 

"Steve [Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed their asses off,” admitted director of third-party relations, Kevin Bachus. “Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went." 

Yikes. Well, you can't say it doesn't have a sense of humour about the whole thing.

Featured Image Credit: Microsoft, Nintendo

Topics: Xbox, Nintendo, Microsoft

Imogen Donovan
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