Thanks to Minesweeper for Xbox
Gamers can thank Minesweeper for the Xbox…even though the fiendish Windows game wasn’t originally ported to the console! But it is partly thanks to him that Microsoft entered this market.
What was Microsoft going to do in the video game console market? In 2001, when the Xbox was launched, the sector was dominated by Nintendo and Sony (Sega became a simple game publisher from that year) and although consoles already represented a sizeable market, many still considered these devices to be toys. Seeing the Windows editor land with a dedicated product was therefore particularly surprising.
Bill Gates completely addicted
Within the company itself, skepticism was at the rendezvous. Especially since Microsoft didn’t really have any hardware experience at the time. But the Xbox ended up making its way, even if it took a lot of stubbornness on the part of the publisher: the original Xbox, sold for $299, actually cost $425 to produce! Microsoft lost $4 billion on this model. Fortunately, things have evolved in the right direction, even if the sale of the console itself does not bring in a lot. It is thanks to the games that the activity is profitable.
If the Xbox has become a stronghold of video games today, it is thanks to… the Minesweeper. The well-known puzzle for Windows users ended up convincing Bill Gates that a game was not necessarily intended for children. And for good reason: the Minesweeper conquered the offices of Microsoft in the 90s. The founder of the company himself was completely addicted to it, he even had to remove it from his PC because he spent too much time playing it, according to Ars Technica !
Melinda French, Bill Gates’ girlfriend at the time (she later became his wife, the two have since separated), had even asked Microsoft teams by email not to let him play at the Minesweeper on their computers… The anecdote clearly shows that a game could be addictive, even with the most productive employee.
Other Windows games, like the Lonely of course, but also Reversi or flight simulator, have shown that video games have this ability to attract not only the youngest, but also adults. Enough to convince Bill Gates that despite appearances, Microsoft had the legitimacy to embark on the race for consoles.
It is not the Minesweeper who saved the Xbox, but a certain Halo ! Bungie’s revolutionary FPS at the time helped the console really take off, even pushing Microsoft to acquire the studio. The franchise has since sold over 80 million copies.