Xbox – 15 years on

To celebrate Xbox’s 15th birthday, we look into where it all started…

The Xbox is Microsoft’s addition to the games-console market. The company had shown interest in this for a while beforehand, with Bill Gates being a fan and outwardly praising the PlayStation upon release.

The Xbox happens to be the first in the Xbox series of gaming consoles, and was the first console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar in 1996. Its main competitors were the PlayStation 2 and the Game Cube. The console boasted superior graphics to its rivals, also becoming the first console to feature built-in hard-discs. Nevertheless, the system was always inferior to the sales of the PS2, though this cannot denote the ultimate success, promoting high sales and steady popularity within its lifetime.

Microsoft’s console featured an online fee-based service that allowed their players to connect with friends and download new content, which is now known as Xbox Live. Launching in 2002 the service had a whopping 250,000 subscribers within two months! This grew quickly to 1 million in 2004 and exponentially to 2 million in 2005 (by the time of the Xbox 360 release).

Much of the success of the Xbox is attributed to first-person shooter games such as Halo 2 – which became the highest-grossing release in entertainment history making over $125 million on its first day alone!

The development of the console originally began as game developers started to show unwavering loyalty to Sony’s PlayStation 2 leading to developers using Windows less and less. Xbox staff were tasked in creating a console to rival Sony’s and this project was brought to life with the Direx-Box (later shortened to Xbox).

The console was initially announced at the Game Developers Conference in 2000, with this information Sega began to show interest in partnering with Microsoft and had talks with Bill Gates himself with incorporating Dreamcast compatibility, though this ultimately fell through.

Xbox seemed to be the first console to steal 3rd party developers from the PlayStation brand, and was incredibly popular amongst other companies – at one point even joining forces exclusively with Sega. Through sharing popularity amongst third party developers with PlayStation, the console was the first to have synchronised releases with the PS2. Some popular and critically acclaimed releases of the console include titles such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as well as the Halo series.

The Xbox sold 1.53 million units just three months after launch, which presents higher figures than the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U and Game Cube. Despite the delayed release, the console has shown to sell better in the North American and European markets rather than the Japanese. However, the sales had always been considerably behind the PS2. The console was only discontinued due to the upcoming release of the Xbox 360 in late 2005.

This revolutionary system has since spawned three more consoles: the Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox One S. The series and brand continue to rival Sony’s PlayStation 15 years on and subsequently has gained a dedicated following of gamers.