Microsoft and Sony’s rivalry is so well-known today that it’s hard to remember a time when they didn’t have anything to fight about. Former Microsoft VP Joachim Kempin spoke to IGN, revealing that their relationship didn’t have to end up this way.
“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? I mean, at least a portion of Sony is and they had some really good things going there, but as soon as they came out with a video console, Microsoft just looked at that and said ‘well, we have to beat them, so let’s do our own.’”
Kepmin continues, stating that Bill Gates also felt that jumping into the ring was a good idea. If there was going to be an alternate to the traditional PC, Microsoft was going to fight it head-on. That fight was going to be with Sony.
He also mentions the struggle to get Microsoft’s first console off the ground:
“I went out to several PC manufacturers and tried to beg them to do the Xbox thing and keep the device manufacturing out of Microsoft. The guys were smart enough not to bite, because they studied the Sony model and saw that Sony could not make money on that hardware model, ever. So they supplemented it with software royalties, and Microsoft copied that model.”
It’s interesting to see how things turned out how they have, much like the fact that Nintendo and Sony intended to work together prior to the original PlayStation console. Console wars between fans are one thing, but seeing companies go from being lukewarm or friendly with each other to being outright rivals is much more entertaining.