2003 was a strange time for SEGA fans. It was the first year following the Dreamcast’s discontinuation with no new games released, new SEGA titles began to release on rival consoles, and a shocking conspiracy unfolded behind the doors of SEGA of America and Visual Concepts. In March, 2003, SEGA and Visual Concepts began beta testing NFL 2k4 – which later was released as ESPN NFL Football. In an effort to fine tune the game, a couple dozen gamers were assembled at an office park in Winter Park, Florida with the promise of trying out an exciting new product. Each gamer present, now given the role of video game beta tester, were given code names: Beta-1, Beta-2, Beta-3, etc. Each beta tester was paired with another tester, and the pairs were tasked with testing various modes and features. One innovative feature which SEGA was keep to promote was the game’s “crash-cam”, a mode which allowed players to experience the game in a first person perspective complete with a simulated on-screen helmet. The privilege of testing this mode fell on the pair of Beta-7 and Beta-8, with Beta-7 being the first to try it out. At first, everything was normal for Beta-7. The new mode was described by him as “SICK” and “awesome”, everything was going great… until he blacked out.
Right now Microsoft is a big player in the game console race, but a decade ago they weren’t in the same position as they are now. Like a bad stereotype, before Microsoft entered the market with the Xbox, there were tons of rumors about them purchasing a gaming company, and one of those comapnies was SEGA.
So why didn’t Microsoft ever pick up SEGA? Well, according to then-CEO Bill Gates, he thought that the house of Sonic lacked the ‘muscle’ to compete with a company like Sony. This is what Joachim Kempin, who worked at Microsoft from 1983 to 2003, had to say:
“There were three companies at that point in time, I think this was [Sony,] Sega and Nintendo. There was always talk maybe we buy Sega or something like that; that never materialized, but we were actually able to license them what they call Windows CE, the younger brother of Windows, to run on their system and make that their platform. But for Bill [Gates] this wasn’t enough, he didn’t think that Sega had enough muscle to eventually stop Sony so we did our own Xbox thing.”
He did state that SEGA was “a very different bird” which we can all agree. But its not like they hated everything SEGA did, I mean, they did put the Xbox in the hands of Dreamcast era SEGA COO Peter Moore.