A former Microsoft executive claims that Microsoft once considered buying SEGA, following the collapse of the Dreamcast. However, Bill Gates didn't believe that the once-ailing company had the clout to run against Sony and Nintendo.
Joachim Kempin, the former Microsoft VP of Windows Sales (who's been spilling beans left right and centre over the last couple of weeks to drum up interest for a new book), suggested that Gates was unconvinced that SEGA would have the "muscle" to run against Sony, and instead opted to dedicated resources to the original Xbox.
"There were three companies at that point in time, I think this was [Sony,] SEGA and Nintendo," Kempin told IGN. "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 [the Dreamcast - Ed] 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."
"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."
Following the death of the Dreamcast and release of the original Xbox, SEGA found a natural new home on Microsoft's console, and released several major franchise sequels as console exclusives (not limited to Jet Set Radio Future and Panzer Dragoon Orta). We've long wondered why Microsoft didn't swoop in for a takeover at that stage - after all, things could be very different if they had.
Not limited to, of course, the fact that SEGA wouldn't have resurged as a canny publishing force with titles like as Total War, Football Manager and Bayonetta under their belt.