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Microsoft considered giving the original Xbox away for free

It turns out that Microsoft's original Xbox console could have been a very different machine. At one point before launch, the company considered making it free in order to undercut Nintendo and capture the casual gaming market, according to Oddworld creator, Lorne Lanning.

Speaking in an interview with GamgesIndustry.biz, , the Oddworld creator revealed some of Microsoft's original plans for the Xbox. The company was still mulling over its plans for entering the console space at the time, back when Nintendo and Sony reigned supreme.


The free Xbox would have been for casual gamers “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”.

“So now you're like, ‘look, if you're going to give the box away, you're going to win. If you're going to win, we want to be on board'.”

Other ideas for the original Xbox included having it run Windows and using DRM to ensure that it could only run Microsoft's in-house developed titles. At one point it was also going to be a dedicated entertainment box for movies that would play a limited selection of games.

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KitGuru Says: Some of Microsoft's initial ideas for the Xbox console are a little odd, even if the company did give away with original Xbox for free, people probably would have then taken their saved money and bought a console from Sony or Nintendo anyways. Did any of you guys own an original Xbox back in the day? Do you think Microsoft had the right idea when it eventually launched the system?

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