Back when Microsoft was looking at entering the home gaming market and working on the first Xbox console, people within the company had some pretty far out ideas - precious few of which actually came to pass, thankfully.
Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz, Oddworld Inhabitants' Lorne Lanning has revealed that one of the main reasons his company pledged support for the original Xbox was that Microsoft had, at one point, mooted the idea of giving away the console for free. Lanning's studio would create Munch's Oddysee for the console's launch, a game which Microsoft hoped would help it battle Nintendo's mascot, Mario:
At the time, Xbox thought that the core market was going to be casual. They were going to be the casual gamers' machine. Now, that's why they approached us because they said 'we think you've got something that competes in that Mario space and we think Mario's the thing to kill ... We see that space. We want that audience. We love Oddworld so why don't you get on this bandwagon? And we might give the box away'. So now you're like, 'look, if you're going to give the box away, you're going to win. If you're going to win, we want to be on board'.
Of course, not even Microsoft was mad enough to give its expensive hardware for nothing - but this was just one of many questionable ideas dreamed up by people within the company. Another was buying Nintendo outright.
Also speaking to Gamesindustry.biz, Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley explains that some of the conversations within Microsoft were extremely testing for the Xbox team, with daft ideas being floated at practically every opportunity:
In the early days of Xbox, especially before we had figured out how to get greenlit for the project as a pure game console, everybody and their brother who saw the new project starting tried to come in and say it should be free, say it should be forced to run Windows after some period of time.
Just name it, name a bad idea and it was something we had to deal with.
Blackley explains that snapping up Nintendo was just one of those ideas. Microsoft had previously considered purchasing Sega, but that never happened, either.