The Idea of Xbox was an ‘Insult’ to Bill Gates (At First)
I spend hours of my life on my Xbox One, and I have very fond memories of all-night Halo 3 LAN parties on my 360. I couldn’t believe that Bill Gates would find the console an “insult”, but that’s exactly what Ed Fries (former VP of game publishing at Microsoft) said in an interview with IGN.
“So we go into the meeting, and four o’clock – Valentines Day – Bill walks in. He’s holding our deck – our power point deck – throws it down on the table, and he says “This is a ****king insult to everything I’ve done at this company!” That was the start of the meeting.”
Ed and two of the other men on the project, Robbie and Jay (the last names weren’t mentioned), attempt to explain their Xbox pitch. One by one they keep getting their idea shut down.
“Then Steve Ballmer starts to get in and he’s going through our business plan, and it says we’re going to lose a lot of money. So he’s beating us up about that, “Why are we doing this? This is so expensive.” Hours go by. So it’s five o’clock, six o’clock, seven o’clock, and this is Valentines Day,” Ed says with a laugh, “Most of us have something going on, ya know?”
“Finally near the end one of the guys, who was just kinda an observer at the meeting, raises his hand and he says,”What about Sony?” He was a senior guy, and … he’d be writing these documents saying, “You know Sony’s slowly invading the living room with processors here, memory here, hard disc here, if they put that all together it could be a future threat to Microsoft.”
“So he just says that. He just says, “What about Sony?” This is about eight o’clock at night on Valentines Day, and Bill and Steve stop and they look at each other, and Bill says, “Yeah, what about Sony?” and then Ballmer says, “Yeah. What about Sony?” then they look at each other again. Then Bill turns and he says, “I’m gonna give you guys everything you want. I’m gonna approve this plan, I’m gonna let you guys go off, do your thing, I’ll give you all the resources. I know you wanna be separate, away from the company so you’re not bothered, I’m gonna let you do that, full blessing, go. Do this thing.” And then Ballmer basically repeats the same thing. Five minutes and then we walk out of there. I turn to Robbie and I say, “That was the weirdest meeting I’ve been in in my, whatever it was then, fifteen years at the company.”
A four hour meeting that could possibly have ended much sooner had they mentioned the competition in their beginning pitch. I’m thankful that Bill Gates finally approved it, no matter what it took to convince him or his reasons behind it. After a long day at work I look forward to sitting on the couch and knowing that I can save the world, take down corrupt conglomerates, execute a bank heist, or survive the apocalypse by saying two words.