15 years ago, on November 15th, 2001, Microsoft released its entry into the home gaming console scene, the Xbox. Based on computer hardware of the era, and using the DirectX game libraries of Microsoft Windows (hence the project name, DirectX-box) this powerful console filled a hole that was left following Sega ending production of the Dreamcast. Nintendo would show up later that week with the GameCube, fleshing out that generation of consoles to compete against the giant that was the then-new Sony Playstation 2.
The console was a powerhouse, one that was, I feel, mostly untapped. As time has passed, long after the prime of the original Xbox, I’ve grown to discover the modding scene and just what all they have done with that 2001 hardware. Custom software in mass, including FTP and web server options, powerful media players, and more, all on what is, by design, supposed to just be a game console.
The games though, that’s what made it something else. Now, to give full context, I did not like the Xbox back then – it wasn’t until recently that I actually grew to love the machines, and the brand, via a process of getting an Original Xbox in 2010, modding it and gaining a respect for the machine, then eventually, in 2014, buying a used 360 and finally that summer a new Xbox One – this after years of PC gaming and slowly establishing myself in a Microsoft ecosystem. Read How I learned to Start Loving The Xbox 360 for details on that story.
Anyway, it would only be a few years of that original Xbox being prominent, before the Xbox 360 would show up on the scene and take over. The system was better integrated with the Xbox Live service (released 1 year after the original Xbox, on November 15th 2002) and would be the first console, in my eyes, to really be internet dependent for maximum enjoyment – while Downloadable Content and game patches were available on the original Xbox, the 360 took these as standard elements, along with the new Achievement system and later enhanced friends list options.
This was the point where Xbox really took off – it beat the PS3 to market by about a year, and while the Wii did outsell it, the Xbox 360 stayed the “true gamers console” to most, and certainly was considered the “winning” console of that generation by most people, even if it did have a tendency to overheat.
Move on to 2013, and the Xbox One, a console that received quite a bit of hate in its original form, but has gained a following after policy changes (no mandatory Kinect accessory), Backwards Compatibility with Xbox 360 software, and most recently its streamlined redesign. It’s still lagging behind the Playstation 4 (at least, for now) but there is a new battle to be fought in this ever-expanding war: Sony just released their upgraded Playstation 4, and Microsoft is set to soon release their upgraded Xbox One, thus continuing this console war with more powerful hardware that, at the same time, is still the same generation of consoles we are using now – a wonderful change to the console life cycle, if you ask me.
That’s not what I’m here to talk about, though: All I’m doing is running a quick personal overview of the Xbox game console history. 15 years is quite a while in tech terms, and it’s been quite a good time for the Xbox brand. I went from heavily disliking the console, and the brand, to embracing it, and I don’t regret that decision.
Happy 15th Xbox. Here’s to more amazing gaming adventures!