Microsoft Was Laughed at When It Offered to Buy Nintendo

Nintendo is one of the most successful video game companies on the market at the moment — but does Disney (or another company) own it?

Sara Belcher - Author

Mar. 14 2022, Published 2:38 p.m. ET

Prominent video game company Nintendo has been making games since the late 1800s. Originally founded in 1889 to produce hanafuda playing cards, the company became one of the earliest in the video game business with the release of the Color TV-Game in 1977.

Nintendo has become a household name and more than 100 million Switch consoles have been sold since the console was released in 2017. But is Nintendo owned by another company, like Disney?

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Does Disney own Nintendo?

While Nintendo has often been considered the "Disney" of video games, this does not mean that the company is owned by Disney. While the media conglomerate may be behind some big video game franchises that have been available on Nintendo consoles, like the Kingdom Hearts games, Disney does not own Nintendo.

Nintendo is known for its plethora of family-friendly games. While the two companies have similar audiences, neither one owns the other.

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Who owns Nintendo?

Companies have attempted to purchase Nintendo before, though none have come close to a successful deal with the Japanese company.

In 1999, Microsoft attempted to purchase Nintendo (only a couple of years before Xbox would hit the market). According to Bloomberg, two executives approached Nintendo with an offer: Microsoft would acquire Nintendo, and while Nintendo would continue to create games, Microsoft would manufacture all of the company's hardware.

"We actually had Nintendo in our building in January 2000 to work through the details of a joint venture where we gave them all the technical specs of the Xbox," former head of business development Bob McBreen said. "But it didn’t work out."

"They just laughed their a--es off," former Microsoft third-party relations head Kevin Bachus told Bloomberg. "Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went."

While other companies have attempted to purchase Nintendo over the years, the Japan-based video game company continues to hold its own and has refused any attempt to be purchased by other developers — and with the success Nintendo has seen with the Switch, it seems like that won't change anytime soon.

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