A bit of surprising news has come to light about Microsoft today, According to various sources, Microsoft was not only going to make the original Xbox completely free, but it was actually planning a Nintendo buyout. Although the 2001 Xbox is by no means a current piece of tech, it is a milestone in Microsoft development and in console development at the same time, but thinking back to 2000, if Microsoft would have made their console free, it might have shaped the way in which we go about consoles in a different direction. There are collectors out there who would definitely appreciate having an original Microsoft Xbox in their collection, but there are fans, too, who would love to have the console and the older games associated with it, just for fun. Alas, it doesn’t seem likely that Microsoft would give it away nowadays. But it’s fun to know that it wanted to, at one point.
Although widespread opinion about Xbos is that it is inferior to Playstation, and even more so to PC gaming, it is undeniable that the original Xbox is a historic piece of hardware. Seamus Blackley, one of the creators of the first Xbox revealed in an interview to GamesIndustry said that Microsoft wanted to make the Xbox free at one point, partnering up with Oddworld Inhabitants to take on the big player at the time: Mario games. Upon that realization, developers at Microsoft thought that the easiest way they could compete against Nintendo’s historic, addictive game was to simply buy the company as is.
Although these plans did not work out in the end, it is funny how the original developers came forward with the information after so many years. One idea that they mentioned in the interview as being something that they wanted to do with the original Xbox was to make it run Windows. That notion was rejected at the time, because Microsoft’s OS was not as popular as it is today, especially in the gaming and entertainment industry. But things have changed quite a lot, and now, we know that Windows 10 will be a big part of the Xbox One once it is released, and the console is now running a version of the OS that allows users to run apps and games through the platform, right on the console.
We wonder what would have happened in the gaming industry if the original plans for the original Xbox were kept. Just imagine: what if Microsoft actually managed to negotiate a deal with Nintendo in 2001 and buy the company? Nintendo might have been in a better place as a brand, but what would have happened to Microsoft? My guess is that it would have also been in a much better place on a global scale, especially in the gaming industry. If Microsoft would have given away the original Xbox for free, targeting casual gamers, we might see a different Xbox One right now and a different way of marketing consoles. I can’t help but imagine a scenario where consoles from Microsoft were completely free, but exclusive to Nintendo/Microsoft games that you need to buy. It’s an interesting concept to ponder upon, but alas, history has taken a different course and Microsoft ultimately decided to sell the original Xbox for the equivalent of $400, which was not that cheap at the time.