Microsoft Tried To Buy Nintendo And 'Resident Evil' (And Got Laughed At)
Many video game consoles have fascinating origin stories. The Sony Playstation was supposed to be a CD-ROM add-on for Nintendo to conquer the market. The Coleco Chameleon was a scam made out of cardboard. Unfortunately for the original Xbox, outside of the nasty inner-circle backstabbings, the known part of the original Xbox's story was mostly a dude saying, "What if we make a gaming pc, but sell it as a console?"
("Still the ugliest console ever." - Us, before seeing the PS5.)
But there's more; it turns out that Microsoft originally tried to money their way into the gaming business. They did so not by either hiring Navy Seals to kidnap some of Sony's engineers or by simply getting some of Sega's people off the streets; they attempted to straight-up acquire Nintendo.
It's important to remember that this is pre-Windows Millenium Edition Microsoft. This juggernaut had more than enough money to buy not just Nintendo but also the entire Mushroom Kingdom. However, what Nintendo lacked in money, they more than made up for in Poké balls, as the company allegedly just laughed at Microsoft's attempts. And not just a quick burst of laughter before they told Microsoft's people to jump(man) out of a window, as then CEO Steve Ballmer recalls that Nintendo's top execs were laughing at Microsoft for an entire hour.
And that wasn't even the worst meeting conducted between Microsoft and Japanese executives. The company got a meeting with Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, who seemed pretty receptive -- at least until they completely blew it. Mikami was working on Resident Evil games for the PS2. Still, he wasn't enjoying its hardware, so he went to Microsoft not merely to bring his games to the American system but to straight-up sign an exclusivity contract.
Kevin Bachus, one of the original Xbox's big boys, went to the meeting feeling the hype but gradually started losing it as he saw Mikami growing exasperated to the point of storming out of the room. The translator explained to the understandably puzzled Bachus that Mikami went on about how Nintendo believed games were toys and Sony believed that they were entertainment and beyond, so he wanted to know what the hell they meant to Microsoft. That should have been an easy score, as Bachus stated time and again that the Xbox wanted to have games that would be considered art, but the translator seemingly had never heard of that take, so he spent most of the time just looking confused at Mikami.
Bachus got to Mikami as soon as he could, but by the time he did, Mikami had already given his baby to a toy company: