Xbox is 10 Today

On this day, ten years ago, Microsoft launched its first foray into the home console market with the original Xbox. It was an announcement full of bravado and frat-house bullishness that many saw as ridiculous. What did Microsoft know about consoles? They made Windows, which was always crashing, and Office, which was boring business software. Games consoles should be left to the Japanese companies.

[drop2]But Microsoft has changed the world of home consoles. The launch line up included Dead or Alive 3, Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2X, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee and, of course, Halo: Combat Evolved. That franchise, also celebrating its tenth year today, epitomises the Xbox brand.


After an inconclusive first year (The EU and Japanese launches came later, in 2002), with a substantial early price drop, the Xbox’s killer app launched in the shape of Live. The system-wide online gaming capability changed the shape of home consoles forever and still serves as the industry’s leading online service for consoles, at least in terms of functionality.

Although it had a relatively short life, being discontinued in 2008 (earlier in the EU and Japan), 24 million sales worldwide was enough to make the decision makers at Microsoft take notice. The Xbox 360 got a green light and is now the big buzz product at Microsoft, leading the way for company-wide development with projects like Natal (later Kinect).

Love them or loathe them, there’s no doubt that Microsoft has had a massive impact on the world of home consoles. The continued gradual “westernisation” of gaming and the popularity of online play can be largely propped at their door. The notion that gaming was now for the jocks as well as the nerds, however erroneous, can be traced back to the original Xbox and its high fiving press conferences. The Xbox took a big leap forwards in making consoles cool for the mainstream.

Perhaps the biggest indication of the Xbox’s impact is that only ten years since its US release, it’s impossible to imagine what the console scene would be like without it. Certainly a less vibrant, less interesting, probably less popular pastime.

Happy birthday Xbox.



  1. Is this where the Xbox Ten rumours came from? Did someone get a bit confused?

  2. Wow. You’re seriously crediting the Xbox with being the platform which popularised gaming and stopped it being viewed as a kids/nerds pastime? PS1 says “Hi!”

    • PlayStation definitely started that movement, I think. But the Xbox took that feeling and grew it massively.

      • Most of the non-gaming media could see what style Sony brought to the fray. They truly made it cool to enjoy consoles and gaming. The marketing they had at launch (and into the life) of the PS1 was utterly fantastic. Sure, they didn’t lean on the casual gamers but they weren’t going for that. They were looking to have gaming accepted by the masses (or at least a good portion of said mass).

        Xbox furthered things but I couldn’t disagree more about them being more influential or at least deserving more credit.

        However, on the flip-side, their online influence has been utterly massive and I have oodles of respect for that.

      • Not deserving of more credit, I never implied that and think it’s probably impossible to quantify. Probably influential on a wider scale though.
        PlayStation began the move from what the mainstream considered geeky but it was just a beginning. Without the US-based Xbox brand gaming might not have gained such traction with celebrities and music stars and that has been a big part in the ongoing evolution of attitudes towards the pastime. Perception of when/if gaming became “cool” is incredibly subjective so it’s really a silly argument but my reasoning is born from the fact that it’s usually not PlayStation in all those rap lyrics and US TV shows. Perhaps it would have been, we’ll never know. What we do know is that the Xbox brand has had massive influence on all areas of the business.

      • We’re having our first quarrel! I can’t wait for make-up sex. :P

        Seriously, though, it’s tough to apportion exact credit and I do genuinely see what they’ve both done. For me, Sony revolutionised the perception outside of a geeky audience and Microsoft then evolved that into what we see today. This particular trick took two to tango. Like our make-up sex!

        I may have something on my mind.

      • Sorry, colossalblue, but I have to agree with Paranolmla. Xbox continued the trend in great strides, but it was the PS1 that made gaming mainstream.

      • Also, “it’s usually not PlayStation in all those rap lyrics and US TV shows.”

        That’s more to do with Microsoft’s superior advertising/PR skills rather than anything else. If Sony had Microsoft’s PR ability it *would* be PlayStations that are featured more in TV shows etc.

        It’s like when you see Apple products in every TV show. They’ve paid to have them there. Doesn’t mean Apple is as prevalent (or influential) as the make-believe world suggests.

      • Personally, I think you’re giving it way too much credit on that front. There’s a lot to give Microsoft credit for (he says grudgingly), but for me, most of that credit goes to the 360, and mostly in the area of online console gaming.

        The original Xbox was a relative flop – loads left on shelves on launch day, £100 price drop after 4 weeks because it wasn’t selling, not to mention a number of widespread hardware problems.

        Lots of people have come into gaming with the 360, but I know a lot of gamers, and as far as I’m aware, not one of them started gaming because of the original Xbox. To say it “grew it massively” is, I think, a humongous overstatement. It certainly wasn’t the ‘go to’ system for most people, and was consistently and comprehensively outsold by the PS2 throughout its relatively short life; so I really see no basis for any claim that it was Xbox which grew the ‘mainstream’ gaming market.

    • I’m not sure if Peter meant precisely that but if so, I’m with you on this one.

      However, the Xbox has done a many great things (XBMC anyone?) as well as provide Sony with stiff competition so neither company had a chance to rest on their laurels. It provides us with choice, diversity and another great platform to enjoy. Sure, when I see what Microsoft are doing these days I can’t help think they’ve lost their way but they want a slice of the casual crowd and we’ve all seen the money in that. I just hope it’s not to the detriment of the hardcore gamers that bought their 360s en masse.

      • I think you always need at least 2 mainstream consoles for the gaming market to evolve. PS1 was the main driver and the originator, then X-box and live pushed it into the mainstream even further with the online conectivity.

        We needed both of them, and before these two we had Sega & Nintendo doing there best to out do each other and push better consoles into our lives.

    • alternatively Xbox could be judged as being the console that destroyed offline MP in favour of online, split the wide audience further to create incredible fanboyism and pissed me off because it has a lot of great games and i cant bloody afford them! :)

      • Really? Don’t forget Halo’s split screen campaign which I still consider to be one of the best offline MP experiences you can get these days. If anything they pushed both options and at some point devs (in general and across all platforms) just started to neglect offline MP. Even PC games come without LAN modes these days. It’s ridiculous. There’s more money in online passes and they rather spend money on DRM R&D instead of coming up with fun offline MP stuff or developing campaign coop modes. *sheds a single tear*

      • I’d say that marketing helped grow the market more than the product would have itself. Only a few Xbox Live features separate it from the PS3, and the build quality of the original and the cost (plus additional adverts) for Xbox Live even it out. The PS1 and PS2 undoubtedly made gaming cool B).

    • Paranoimia is correct. Xbox did nothing really, it was Sony that did it really.

      • Agreed. Sony was made of Win back in those days, they really introduced gaming to the masses – even my Grandparents bought a PS2 on release. Hell, they actually got one before I did!

  3. gaming was cool well before the term xbox meant anything to anybody

  4. As someone who never really got anything from the Xbox I don’t see how it had any real effect on the gaming industry other than starting the Halo franchise. Really didn’t take to it much and will have no sentimental feelings towards it in the same way I do for others. I would certainly put its influence behind the likes of the 48k, NES, SNES, N64, PS1, PS2, Gameboy, DS who I feel made a bigger impact. Feel like its a machine that will be quickly and easily forgotten. It’s successor on the other hand…….

  5. While I completely disagree that the Xbox made gaming cool/more respectable, I do think it revolutionised online console gaming.

    Without Microsoft’s emphasis on online we would not be where we are today in terms of console gaming connectivity. Microsoft pretty much forced Sony to up their game in this regard. Microsoft could see that the future of gaming was online, and they pretty much dragged Sony along with them in this area.

    • Completly agree. The only thing I begrudge MS for is how well Live works, I love my PS3 and the PSN. But believe online gaming is better on Live, and that’s what MS pioneered to make it so popular, along with a few good exclusive titles that every console needs.

  6. I think people are confusing ‘mainstream’ with ‘acceptable’.

    • I think both those words belong together. Sony were instrumental in making gaming acceptable in mainstream entertainment. However, Microsoft furthered that by an unquantifiable degree.

      We’re all just picking over the details but at least we’re not mud-slinging yet. I’m Welsh, if anyone wants to take a racist dig at me! :-P Ha! :-)

      • Welsh (ewww) people aren’t a race. you dumb sheep bummer ;-)

      • and translated for your convinience:

        Wwlsh (wwww) pwoplw wrwn’t w rwce. ywu dwmb shwwp bwmmwr ;-)

  7. The orginal xbox came to hefty competition from the PS2 and was beaten completely. While the xbox is a massive influence on the US gaming scene I believe its the Xbox 360 which has had the big influence and had it not been for the 360 then online would be different, console wars could be different. It certainly meant that sony and nintendo had to take notice which is its biggest achievement in generating quality in hardware rather than the western social acceptance of gaming that is gradually gaining momentum.

  8. Happy Birthday old chum! Today is a good day to play Xbox, and I shall do so in celebration!

  9. Another disparity we have to consider is the geographical markets, X-box absolutly dominates in the US, not so much in the UK and Europe where the divide isn’t that great and it has almost no impact in Japan.

    • This is the original, though. That didn’t even dominate in the US!

      • Thought the orignal did well in the US. My bad.

    • It IS big in the UK. It’s the console of choice* for 10 year olds and chavs.

      *the cheapest and has the most FPS’

      • 360 that is, almost no one here had an original xbox, everyone had PS2s back then.

  10. Huh. I thought it’d been around longer.

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