GamesIndustry has an interesting interview with Seamus Blackley who was the original Xbox co-creator and also Lorne Lanning who created the Oddworld series. In the enlightening interview, Blackley revealed that the team had all sorts of big ideas before launching the original Xbox including acquiring Nintendo and also giving away the Xbox for free. None of these things obviously happened, but it’s interesting to read some of the grand plans that the original team had. Lanning also mentioned that the Xbox team said they needed “something that competes in that Mario space and we think Mario’s the thing to kill” so they brought out Oddworld as a launch title and gave developers the idea that they were going to be giving out the Xbox for free.
“At the time, Xbox thought that the core market was going to be casual. They were going to be the casual gamers’ machine. Now, that’s why they approached us because they said ‘we think you’ve got something that competes in that Mario space and we think Mario’s the thing to kill … We see that space. We want that audience. We love Oddworld so why don’t you get on this bandwagon? And we might give the box away’,”
Blackley noted that a number of other ideas were pushed around at Microsoft too. Some people said Xbox should be focused on playing movies, or that all the games would have to be made by Microsoft. Some even pushed the notion that Microsoft should make a huge play and just gobble up Nintendo. “Just name it, name a bad idea and it was something we had to deal with,” Blackley lamented.