Xbox only exists because of Microsoft and Sony’s heated relationship. That’s according to former executive Joachim Kempin, who was vice president of Windows Sales at the firm. Chatting with IGN, the outspoken suit explained that the computing company wanted to tackle PlayStation head-on due to the bad blood between the organisations.
“The main reason [Xbox exists] was to stop Sony,” he said. “You see, Sony and Microsoft, they never had a very friendly relationship, okay? And this wasn’t because Microsoft didn’t want that. Sony was always very arm’s length with Microsoft.
“Yeah, they bought Windows for their PCs but when you really take a hard look at that, they were never Microsoft’s friend. And Microsoft in a way wanted them to be a friend because they knew they had a lot of things we could have co-operated on because they are, in a way, an entertainment company, you know?”
Ultimately, the success of the PlayStation brand prompted Microsoft to create its own console – an initiative that came directly from Bill Gates himself. “Microsoft just looked at [the PlayStation] and said, ‘Well, we have to beat them, so let’s do our own.’”
The company had considered purchasing SEGA at one point, but it didn’t feel that the Japanese publisher had the clout to overcome Sony’s dominant brand. “There was always talk maybe we buy SEGA or something like that," he continued. "That never materialised, but we were actually able to license them what they call Windows CE [for the Dreamcast], the younger brother of Windows, to run on their system and make that their platform. But for Bill [Gates] that wasn’t enough, he didn’t think that SEGA had enough muscle to eventually stop Sony, so we did our own Xbox thing.”
And thus the rivalry was born. The timing of these comments couldn’t be better, as the two companies are about to engage in arguably their biggest battle yet. Rumours suggest that both the PlayStation 4 and next Xbox will debut later this year, setting up one of the fiercest console clashes since the 16-bit days. Who’s excited?