Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was their successor to the Xbox console and it competed against the PS3 and Wii. Unveiled on MTV in 2005, the console was already expected to be a huge success, which it ultimately was.
The Xbox Live online gaming service was greatly expanded on and adapted for Microsoft’s latest console. It even shut down for 24 hours the day before the new console was released to accommodate the huge update. This update made Xbox Live more accessible to a variety of people. The subscription service was split into different plans; the lowest being ‘Silver’ which was a free service for people to enjoy the Xbox Marketplace and Xbox Live Arcade, but not the ‘Gold’ premium features such as online multiplayer gaming.
With such high demand for the console, and development only beginning 69 days before release, there was a worldwide shortage of Xbox 360 consoles upon launch. Due to this shortage 10% of the total supply (40 thousand units) could be found on eBay within the first week. The console did not actually resupply until general Japanese launch.
However, within the first year the console had sold in 36 different countries and became the first console to do so in a single year alone. Despite this, and alike its predecessor, the Xbox 360 sold poorly in Japan; this is estimated to be due to the peoples loyalty to Japanese console brands PlayStation and Nintendo who were also releasing consoles around the time (PS3 and Wii).
Outselling the original console and its competitors, Microsoft had the advantage of a selection of high profile releases available at launch. The Xbox 360 was also seen as producing higher quality cross-platform games than that of the PS3 between 2006 and 2007, as there were early issues with programming games for the superior though complex PlayStation console.
Accessories for the console include wired and wireless controllers, headsets for online gaming, a webcam as well as dance-mats. By far the most popular peripheral for the 360 is the Xbox Kinect. The Kinect allowed for a controller-free gaming experience, with the player being able to control the console with movements and speaking to it. This peripheral became the highest selling of all consoles of the time.
The 360 had some iconic game releases, such as the Call of Duty series, Gears of War series and the continuation of the Halo series. Through creating and building huge franchises Microsoft gained a large fan following quickly.
A software update dubbed the NXE (New Xbox Experience) updated the console to a more user-friendly interface. Through the ability to install games from a disc, which greatly pleased players as it reduced lag time and disc noise, to a community system where the player could customise their own avatar; the Xbox 360 pledged a new gaming experience for the everyday player.
Other software availabilities that the Xbox 360 promoted were the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Xbox Live Arcade. The online Marketplace gave players the access movie trailers, game trailers, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade Games, Xbox 360 dashboard themes and add on game content. To reduce credit card fees, Microsoft launched the Xbox currency ‘Microsoft Points’ to purchase any content off the store. It has been released that 70% of Xbox users have downloaded something off of the marketplace.
Whereas, Xbox Live Arcade is a platform that contains downloadable games for the Xbox and Xbox 360. This ranges from arcade classics such as Ms Pac-Man to original games created for the platform. As well as this, the Xbox Live Arcade includes PlayStation and PC exclusive games such as Castlevania.
Xbox Smartglass is an example of the Xbox 360 adapting with the times. It is an app downloadable on smartphones (Android and iOS) which acts as a companion to the Xbox 360. The app can control the console and even give access to exclusive downloadable content.