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.

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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.

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43 Comments

  1. almost the average age of players on xbox live. ^_^

  2. It’s wrong to attribute the Xbox 360’s development and release to the sales of the Xbox. Yes it was important for the Xbox to get a decent install base, which it managed with aplomb, but Microsoft knew from the outset that the Xbox was a loss leader, a way to get their foot in the door, build up experience and infrastructure with Xbox Live, and then really challenge Sony for the crown with an early release of the 360.

    Even at 24 million, the Xbox was little more than a calm and calculated failure. I wonder what things would have been like without Bungie, though…

    • imagine what shooters would have been like without them!

    • I think it would be safe to say, that Halo: CE did more for gaming that the xbox.

    • i watched gametrailers halo retrospective the other day, and couldn’t help but wonder how things might have turned out had bungie not been bought by ms and they actually launched halo on the mac like they originally planned.

      we need somebody to create futurama’s what if machine.

  3. never managed to play one but happy birthday to something which helped bring our little hobby to more people

  4. Still haven’t played on properly.. I wonder how cheap I can get one, might buy one to blast through halo CE… lol.

  5. Ah, I knew there was something to celebrate today, couldn’t remember what.

  6. I enjoyed my Xbox for a little over it’s first year. I waited to get one rather than a PS2. The thing had a hard drive and custom soundtracks! Nothing else came close at the time. I was rewarded with Halo & Project Gotham on day one. Great times.
    But the games started drying up and I moved on to the PS2. Bought a 360 and was a staunch supporter. Until YLOD! Hello PS3 & I’m never going back!

    • I didn’t know 360’s could get YLoD??? :O

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