In a move that would have pretty much destroyed the chances of Sonic the Hedgehog and other Sega series being on Nintendo and Sony made consoles for the rest of time, Microsoft were at one point thinking about buying out Sega instead of starting up their Xbox division. Here’s what a former Microsoft employee had to say about the whole idea:
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 and make that their platform.
But 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.
So the story was an apparently an interesting one. To combat Sony, they were planning to at one point buy Sega, and then license Windows for Sega’s systems. So if this whole idea hadn’t have fell through (and if Sega hadn’t got curb stomped by the Playstation and went third party with the Dreamcast), we may have never even got an Xbox or Microsoft in the console business.
It all makes sense really. Why jump right into a heavily fought console industry when you can just license your technology out to an existing competitor and possibly turn them into your video game development/publishing arm? But it wasn’t to be, because they didn’t see Sega being ‘successful’ enough to stop Sony and outdo their Playstation systems. So into the console industry came Microsoft, and the whole structure of the video game industry changed drastically with it.
But can you imagine what would have happened if Microsoft had bought Sega? For one thing, it would have meant we’d get ‘Sega’ made consoles even up to the present day and that the Xbox might not have ever existed as a result. It’d have also meant that Sonic the Hedgehog and other Sega owned series would now be Microsoft exclusives…
The results would have been staggering. Sonic Unleashed, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Sonic Generations would all be exclusive to the Sega/Microsoft owned console (if they even existed). Sonic All Stars Racing wouldn’t be a multi-format release and weirdest of all, Sonic in Super Smash Bros would be as impossible as Master Chief in the same series. Can you imagine that? A Super Smash Bros Brawl with Snake but no Sonic? I’m fairly sure that wouldn’t have been as successful as the version we got in this ‘universe’.
On the bright side, I guess Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games would have never have become reality. Bad for Nintendo and Sega’s wallets, maybe not so bad for the people subjected to their terrible motion controls and gimmicks.
All in all though, if this deal had gone through, the entire course of gaming history could have been turned upside down. Sonic would basically be a Microsoft mascot, Sega a mere development house under their banner and the Xbox 360 replaced by the Dreamcast 360 or something similar. It’s even possible that either Nintendo or Sony might not even be around if this had happened.
What do you think? Was Microsoft right not to buy Sega? And if they had, would gaming be better or worse off for it?