Microsoft (more precisely Microsoft Studios
) decided that they needed to stop Sony from succeeding in creating a set top box capable of dethroning Windows
, and thus the Xbox was born, Microsoft's first console and their entry into the Sixth Generation
. While the Sega Dreamcast
and Sony PlayStation 2
had internet-based multiplayer and online features as an option, Microsoft made them into their most well known feature and charged for it.
They also charged extra for the DVD remote/IR sensor kit which was required to play DVDs
(a free feature on the PS2
if you didn't want the remote; though this is because of the DVD licensing fees), and even with the kit could only play discs locked to the same region as the Xbox.
One of the reasons for Microsoft's rather aggressive use of Revenue-Enhancing Devices
was because the system had very high manufacturing costs. It relied on an unusually large number of bespoke components bought from manufacturers at prices that were fixed by contract. This meant Microsoft never actually made a profit on a single unit of the hardware itself, much to the amusement of their detractors. However the system was the most powerful Sixth Generation console; it used an Intel Coppermine (Celeron-derivative) CPU clocked at approximately 733MHz, and an nVidia NV2A Graphics Processing Unit
(closest to, but not quite, the GeForce 3/NV30), making it far superior to its rivals. In fact, the hardware was basically a mini-360: it supported DirectX 8.1, just a couple of steps behind DirectX 9c, the maximum the "HD" consoles support, as well as a hard drive for streaming data. While the graphics hardware often didn't get a chance to shine — the vast majority of sixth generation games were designed with the PlayStation 2 in mind, meaning that they didn't take advantage of the Xbox's (or for that matter, the GameCube's) more powerful hardware beyond having higher levels of anti-aliasing and texture filtering — the system's exclusives really showed off what the Xbox could do.
Though the console only sold a small fraction of the PlayStation 2
's sales, it gained what could be considered a Cult Following
, as well as the respect of the general gaming community thanks to its groundbreaking influence on console gaming. Many of the features it pioneered becoming standard in the following console generation, most notably an internal, large-capacity hard drive, and a comprehensive, centralized online service (as well as getting console online gaming off the ground in general). Even its contemporary competitors began to take notice of the Xbox, such as the PlayStation
2, which launched without network support but introduced an Internet adapter for the original model and built-in ethernet for the slimline after the success of Xbox Live. The console's merging of console and PC hardware also extended to software, with many PC developers dipping their feet in the console waters by releasing Xbox ports of their games, a trend that would continue into the seventh generation as these previously-PC exclusive developers went completely Multi Platform
, and some console developers have even done the inverse. Today's overlap of the PC and console markets is unprecedented (for better or for worse), and is largely thanks to the original Xbox.
It was also known for introducing the world to Halo
, best described as a First-Person Shooter
with something of a Space Western
flavour, which has so far spawned three sequels (one available on the original console), a prequel, some books, some comics, a graphic novel or two, and spinoffs. The Xbox had many PC ports, being based on their Direct X
(hence, it's a DirectX Box
which was incidentally a working title for the unit that hit the big time
), hence very easy to program for PC developers. It didn't succeed in dethroning the PlayStation 2
(although it outsold the GameCube
by a few million units worldwide), but Xbox got Microsoft's foot in the door.
The Xbox is also noted for having a poorly designed and implemented security system (part of where the money went on custom parts) that can be hacked in many different ways allowing alternate uses of the console, which is basically a scaled-down PC in a black plastic case. In fact, in some instances this can be done using only a couple of modified files, and software can installed on the system (such as specific builds of Linux
, an excellent media player
and the games themselves for much shorter load times. Upgrades can also be performed, such as fitting a larger hard drive to store more media. In fact, the uses devised by the fanbase far exceed those envisaged by Microsoft and have ensured an unusually long lifespan for the console. In true spoil-sport form Microsoft over-compensated for their mistakes and ensured its successor, the Xbox 360
, was harder to turn into a home entertainment hub. It was also noisier and less reliable as a result of the smaller form factor.
The console is also infamously Xbox Hueg
, as you can tell from the picture above: The system weighs in at just below 4 kilograms (approx. 8,5 pounds), nearly twice the weight of a Playstation 2
(and four times the weight of the slimline version), making it a nightmare to haul from one place to the next. The original "Duke
" controller that launched with the system (not to be confused with any other Dukes
), despite being designed by the same people who were responsible for Microsoft's highly successful Sidewinder brand of gamepads, was also infamous in its own right, being specifically designed for western gamers with bigger hands, and oft-criticized for its massive size and clumsiness of use. The controllers were eventually redesigned into a much slimmer form◊
for the Japanese launch of the system, and the new controller, dubbed Controller S, eventually became the worldwide standard, phasing out the Duke for good.
As of April 15th, 2010, LIVE service for the original Xbox, and original Xbox titles played on the 360, has been discontinued. A great many fans, including Bungie themselves
, took the 14th off to play their favorite Xbox games online, one last time. However, this service ended up Living on Borrowed Time
well beyond the night itself, as it turned out the service would not be shut off until every user who had connected before the 15th had disconnected
, leaving one final matchmaking party of a few dedicated players
keeping their Xboxes online playing Halo 2' until their consoles died from overuse. The final user was disconnected from the service on
May 11th'', almost a month after the service was scheduled to be deactivated
The Xbox's library currently does not enjoy any-where near the popularity of the libraries for its fellow legacy systems the Playstation 2
for two major reasons: The Xbox 360
lacks true backwards compatibility, only emulating select titles and often imperfectly, while the original system is no longer produced or as market saturating as the PS2
is, and almost all of the "exclusives" are also on the PC, where, due to their age, can be played on standard desktops, and with the advent of digital distribution, are easier to obtain. The lack of online play for the titles that focused on them does not help either.
Games for the original Xbox which currently have a page: