C3 Speculation | Nintendo & Microsoft`s Relationship

By Adam Riley 29.12.2003 1

Nintendo & Microsoft to Become Good Friends?
Another Bout of C3 Speculation!

Article by Adam Riley (jesusraz)

When Microsoft first announced that it was planning on entering the hardware market with its XBOX in order to pit itself against Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube, people were quick to put the massive American company down, likening the XBOX to something like Atari's failed Jaguar home console. But it quickly became apparent that Bill Gates was certainly not going to let anything like that happen and proceeded to funnel more and more money into advertising the system and trying to gather high-quality software so it could compete on an even playing-field. The company has even resorted to childish pokes at both Nintendo and Sony, most of the time pointing out that Nintendo is not a serious business company and that is focuses too much of the younger audiences, thus not possessing the power to become a heavyweight in the industry. No doubt Nintendo will have been quite dismissive of these comments since it has managed to stick around and continue to make profit for a long stretch of time. Also, Microsoft floundering in Japan on a regular week-by-week basis - hardware sales battling with Sony's age-old PSone and hardly ever a game in the software chart - will give Nintendo great solace.

Anyway, all of this pointed to a possible souring relationship between the big Japanese company and its American counterpart. This deterioration in amicability looked to further when Ken Lobb left Nintendo to join Microsoft. Mr Lobb will be mainly familiar to fans of GoldenEye on the N64 as his name was used for the Klobb gun as thanks for his sterling input on Rare's seminal First Person Shooter...but other than close ties with the Twycross company, he was a major player in Nintendo itself, so it was quite a blow to lose him. Hot on the heels of this, Nintendo sold its 49% stake-hold in the ever-popular, and generally reliable - if in terms of product quality more than actual time efficiency - Rareware. The makers of such titles as GoldenEye, Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark on the N64, Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads and Killer Instinct on the SNES, as well as numerous Spectrum games when they were known as Ultimate: Play the Game, had decided that pastures-new would be ideal and Nintendo agreed to sell its stocks to the highest bidder, namely Microsoft who beat off a strong offer from Activision. Despite the official line, many believe that Nintendo was, in all honesty, rather disgruntled to lose such a worthy team to one of its new gaming-war foes. Liken it, if you will, to Manchester United having to concede and sell Ryan Giggs to the new, extremely rich, Chelsea FC...On the surface things would be smoothed over, but underneath it would definitely have repercussions. Some believe that Ken Lobb actually had a hand in the transition of Rareware from one company to the other, but those thoughts are completely unconfirmed and possibly just simple paranoia from the fanbase.

But then something unus
ual and rather unheard of occurred. Earlier in 2003, sometime around March, Microsoft revealed that because it did not class the GameBoy Advance as a direct competitor to its market plans, it would therefore license-out a few of its larger franchises to the lowly handheld system. Of course this sent gamers around the world into a rumour-filled frenzy with many claiming that Microsoft was on the verge of trying to buy Nintendo out, or that the two companies would simply merge or form a co-alliance to squeeze out Sony and its death-grip on the current market scene. Obviously these were just that, rumours, and ones that surely could hold no truth at all. Or could they? You see this particular piece of hearsay has been lingering for a long time now, similar to the one about Rare leaving Nintendo (which ultimately proved to be true). Not only have games like Oddworld appeared on the GameBoy, but Rareware is merrily going along with its GBA projects, even having a specific team within the company dedicated to handheld work. Look at this: Rare now has one GBA game out, in Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, and one XBOX title, Grabbed by the Ghoulies. The next game from them will be Sabrewulf for a Nintendo system, rather than Microsoft's big black brick...So does this mean that Microsoft sees that perhaps there is good money in teaming up with Nintendo, and does Nintendo finally realise that forming close ties with companies that formerly worked against them (as with Sega) could indeed prove to be extremely beneficial? Who knows...but there is this little snippet of information that was recently published in the independent column, RedEye, that can be found in the latest issue (No.132) of UK publication EDGE:

"RedEye can't say much more about who's going to be involved with the second generation of Microsoft's attempt to invade your living room, but just because it's you, here's a hint : IT'S A-ME MASTER CHIEF-IO. Don't tell anyone though - this news is on a strictly need to knintendow basis. Just between you and RedEye, Okay?"

Not so much a hidden message inside there as a blatant one! Whatever this 'RedEye' has heard from deep within the industry, it definitely seems to fit in with the Nintendo-Microsoft collaboration theory. Unless, of course, it is something simpler, like an influential former Nintendo-employee joining Camp Gates - perhaps Hiroshi Yamauchi, the ex-Head of Nintendo Japan, who is currently running a scheme to resurrect an old Japanese card game based on poems. Admittedly, though, there is more chance of hell freezing over than that happening. But how about someone like Peter Main instead, the former lead guy at Nintendo of America? It is indeed possible...I really cannot be sure. But I do think it is more likely that a Nintendo staff member would go across, rather than the two companies joining forces. But hey, I was wrong all that time ago about Rare, stating that the company would definitely not leave Nintendo in the near future, so I could be off-base here as well!

I could deliberate the positives of a possible deal and the adverse effects of the two companies working together, but instead of rambling on further, I will leave that to your very active imaginations...Thank you and goodnight!

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