News Article

Microsoft Almost Purchased Sega In Order To Compete With Nintendo And Sony

Posted by Damien McFerran

How different things could have been

A former Microsoft executive has revealed that the company was considering buying Japanese video game veteran Sega before it decided to create the Xbox console.

Speaking to IGN, Joachim Kempin said:

There were three companies at that point in time, I think this was [Sony], Sega and Nintendo. There was always talk maybe we buy Sega or something like that. That never materialised, but we were actually able to license them what they call Windows CE, the younger brother of Windows, to run on their system [Dreamcast] and make that their platform.

For Bill [Gates] this wasn't enough, he didn't think that Sega had enough muscle to eventually stop Sony so we did our own Xbox thing. There were some talks but it never materialised because Sega was a very different bird. It was always Sony and Nintendo, right? And Nintendo had some financial trouble at that point in time, so Sony came out with the PlayStation and bang! They took off, and everyone else was left behind.

The landscape of the video game industry would have been a lot different today had that acquisition gone through. Sega might still be making hardware, but would be a totally different company. Would you have liked to have seen Microsoft buy out Nintendo's old rival? Post a comment to share your opinion.


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User Comments (60)




How interesting! Mind you I'm sure there are a few other "what might've been stories" out there in the history of the gaming industry. The PS1 and N64 ages were golden.



Peach64 said:

Purchasing game studios has got to be one of the biggest wastes of money there is. All you get is the IPs. Staff aren't tied to a company and move about frequently. If you buy game developer X because they just put out a well received game, in 6 months there could no longer be ANYONE who worked on that game left.



NintyMan said:

What if Nintendo and Sony had teamed up earlier and Microsoft and Sega teamed up against them? That would've been an interesting rivalry, but it apparently wasn't meant to be.



Knux said:

Thank God it didn't happen! Microsoft would probably have sucked the soul out of Sega like they did to Rare.



Auracle said:

I sure am glad that didn't happen. I like being able to play Sonic on my Nintendo systems.



Jellitoe said:

No way, I like the option of getting Sega games on various consoles. glad that did not happen



Daz-brum said:

WOW if only they buy Sega now think of the talent but then again look at rare. !!!



Tasuki said:

Would have been interesting but honestly I am glad that they didnt. If they did we probably wouldnt have any of Sega's games on the VC like how Rare games wont come to the VC anytime soon.



MAB said:

Sega was just too cool for school to be seen hangin' with the nerdy kids



FullbringIchigo said:

looking at the way the xbox is designed that's not really surprising the first thing i thought of the first time i played it was " this controller is just like the dreamcast"



Emaan said:

That's very interesting to find out. I'm almost glad that didn't happen. Sega is much more suitable as a stand-alone third party right now in the industry.

I've always wondered what it would be like if Sega were still around in the hardware business.



paburrows said:

That might have been interesting since Sega is one of the only companies that has a history and characters as old as Nintendo. I would have liked to have seen that happen.



Omega said:

Aww. I would have liked to see a "Microsoft Alex Kidd 2000 Professional".



Jarod said:

I wonder if id still be a big sega fan had this happened, oh well not that i dislike sega now but funded by microsoft Sonic would probably be alot more relevant today then he is and i would love that



WingedSnagret said:

Yikes, Sonic is in bad enough shape as he is now (granted I've heard some of his latest games aren't too bad), but if Microsoft had full control? The Blue Blur quickly would have been utterly destroyed, if Banjo & Kazooie are anything to go by.



Capt_N said:

Certainly interesting. I'm not sure if I would prefer Sega to be in Nintendo's possession, like a 2nd party developer, or not. Sega being a 3rd party dev, means that egg is not on any one co.'s face, when they make a bad game. On the flipside, when they make a great game, all the other co.'s have to accept the fact they don't own Sega's ips.



seronja said:

after what they did to my beloved rareware i'm glad they didn't buy sega.



The_Fox said:

Microsoft didn't destroy Rare, people. Most of the talent had already left around the time that... OH MY GOD WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER EXPLAINING THIS.



Neram said:

It wasn't always Sony and Nintendo, but I could see how Microsoft would think that given the era they came into the race. I think it might have fared better for them if they bought Sega, they sure wouldn't have had to try and penetrate their own new brand into the marketplace. Kudos to Microsoft though, if I remember correctly, not a lot of people were open to the Xbox at first.



Knuckles said:

Thank goodness this didn't happen. I like playing moblie Sonic games, multiplatform games etc.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I can only imagine what could have happened to Sega's IP just look at Banjoe Kazooie, they kept pushing and pushing to change things until it was nothing like the original games.



TheAdza said:

Nintendo should buy Sega and their IP's. Phantasy Star series, Sonic, Shining series, Skies of Arcadia, Virtua series, Streets of Rage, etc could be all Nintendo needs to compete with the other big boys. Sega used to be about expanding the market too but were a bit ahead of the times. The Dreamcast VMU is now fully realised with the Wii U gamepad. Casual games like Samba De Amigo released long before other music games like Guitar Hero took over. Typing of the Dead long before that Pokemon typing game, PSO being the first mainstream console multiplayer game, not to mention the DC being the first console having a modem built in as standard even if it was dial up. I'm not so sure Sega still have that spark about them any more, but if they did they would be a perfect fit for Nintendo's guiding hands these days.



SCAR said:

I already knew this. I think Sega would have made Xbox better assuming they would have most of the control, or 50/50. I think it's best they make software for multiple platforms overall though, because Sega's a good company regardless of their past hardware mistakes.



Bryon15 said:

I am so glad this did not happen. I would've hated it. I'm a die-hard nintendo fan, but I've always loved sonic as well. I mainly bought all of my sega systems just to play sonic. If this had happened it meant I would have had to buy microsoft's systems too! No thanks. I've never been interested in xbox.



StarDust4Ever said:

Microsoft ruined RARE. Microsoft could have easily RUINED Sega!!!

Maybe Microsoft should buy Atari out of bankruptcy and see what they can do with it.



SMW said:

I always wondered why the Dreamcast ran Windows CE. It always felt like an odd choice to me.

Also the Dreamcast is pretty similar to the Xbox. In some ways, it was even more advanced than the Xbox. The Dreamcast wasn't the first online console, but it was definitely the first to really take off with it. Then it had downloadable content well before the acronym, DLC, was ever thrown around. Was able to surf the web and download game saves thanks to the web browser... and much more. I'll stop here before I make too long of a post, though! (Too late?)



rockman_zero said:

@The_Fox u keep thinking that if they didn't get rare we woulda had a new killer instinct game long time ago but of course like chuck norris Microsoft exists to ruin poop



brooks83 said:

I'm glad they didn't. Otherwise I couldn't buy Sega games on the Virtual Console.



LanePhilly said:

Very cool and interesting! I wonder what the gaming world would be like if they did end up buying Sega, maybe a good Sonic game?



kdognumba1 said:

I always wondered why this never happened as the Dreamcast was powered by Windows. I also kind of feel that the Xbox and 360 took what the Dreamcast started and ran with it as far as online is concerned.

With that said, I'm glad the deal never happened and Sega never became what Rareware became. Now Sega games are enjoyed by all console companies, with the Wii getting some notable classics in the VC and Nintendo in general getting some awesome Sonic games and with PS3/360 getting some notable ports of DC and Saturn games and new games from Overworks, AM2 and a few other notable design teams.

I do miss Sega systems though, I miss chances on unique games and not the same game with a new twist syndrome which seems to of become popular in this closing generation. Dreamcast for life!



Henmii said:

"Sega might still be making hardware, but would be a totally different company"

No, it would be a Microsoft console (with Sega printed on it in tiny letters)! I am happy it didn't happen! Microsoft and Rareware where also a match made in heaven, remember?!

I much rather see Nintendo buy Sega! Even Sony buying Sega would have been better then Microsoft buying it!



misswliu81 said:

glad this didn't happen - otherwise the sonic games for example wouldn't appear on the wii, wii U, 3DS, DS. sega is my second favourite games company after nintendo. i'd rather have nintendo buying out sega and making them a second party alongside retro, intelligent systems and HAL labs to name.

i can imagine jet set radio, super monkey ball, skies of arcadia, bayonetta, space channel 5 and sonic, shining force, streets of rage, virtua fighter games alongside fire emblem, zelda, metroid, mario, kirby, pokemon etc. that would be one hell of a line-up!



yobucky said:

I was thinking the same thing, there's no real evidence that them wanting to buy SEGA was ever anything more than a thought. Based on that logic, I almost bought microsoft when I thought about it just now.
Still I get the point of the article... a 'what if' scenario, similar to "what if nintendo had actually let sony finish that optical disc drive", or "what if they actually made a new earthbound game?"



Bulbousaur said:

Sega already going downhill at the time, plus the Rare-ruining antics of Microsoft=a even worse Sega than what we have now.

Still, it would have been bad if this happened for the industry as a whole.



wedgeredleader said:

Typical microsoft/big business view point.
You see a market you want in, and rather than developing your own technology, you buy another company (or right to technology from a company) that is proficient in the market. It works on paper, but when you see what actually happens to the company, it falls victim to bureaucratic rule. A prime example of this path would be Rareware (as aforementioned by others). It can be argued Rare made some good games (if you like nuts and bolts or kinect sports) after being bought out, but I believe it that was just Rare in name. However, for Microsoft it was a good purchase because it prevented Nintendo from having any further Rare games (other than the ones currently in development).

Anyways, I'm glad MS didn't buy Sega, becuase I dont have to buy a 360 just to own valkyria chronicles!



CharbroiledEwok said:

And miss out on Nintendo versions of Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, Sonic Advance, etc., etc., ad nauseum...? NEVER!



Sun said:

NL: 'Microsoft Almost Purchased Sega In Order To Compete With Nintendo And Sony'

Would have they destroyed it as they did with Rare? Yes, they would have.

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