A decade ago, on November 22nd, 2005, Microsoft released its second console, the Xbox 360, onto the world. Featuring an enhanced version of the growing Xbox Live online service, and far surpassing the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube of the previous generation, the system was met with massive demand and popularity, this continuing strongly for the next 10 years, even in spite of a high failure rate of early models of the console.
Today, however, on April 20th, 2016, nearly 10 and a half years after the console was first introduced, Microsoft announced that ” the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us”, which is layperson for we can no longer affordably source components for the console, and thus we must end the manufacture of it.
No, this is nothing to panic about. Relax.
It was a day we all saw coming, honestly. Any gamer who at all knows the flow of things knows that eventually production of consoles must end – they can’t be made forever. Technology advances and the cost of making specialty components, which must remain the same for the hardware to work properly, that are not only a decade old and beyond outdated but also only really used on that one piece of hardware at a point just stops being economical. By this time, though, often, most consoles are well saturated in their target markets, and in the secondhand markets, meaning if someone wants one, they can get one. After a decade, quite honestly, if you have at all wanted an Xbox 360, you certainly have options to purchase one now; soon though, you will no longer be able to purchase one new, fresh from Microsoft.
That, honestly, is all this affects. This doesn’t mean the games won’t work. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play Xbox 360 game on Xbox Live. The consoles will be supported for repair under warranty, and will still have all the software support they have had for the last decade.
We are already at a stage where there are few new games being released for the decade-old console. This is a natural stage in the evolution of such hardware, as it ages gracefully and its successor, the Xbox One, continues where it left off.
Let’s really look at it, all, in context. Just this past year, they added the ability to play selected Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One. These games, of course, rely on Xbox Live just as they would if being played on a 360 (a concept some people simply cannot grasp, sadly) and if the service was ended on them, that would very much defeat the purpose of even allowing you to play those games, some of which while being 5 years old or more, are extremely popular, now wouldn’t it?
You might think back though, to April 15th, 2010, and remember the end of Xbox Live for original Xbox games. Won’t Microsoft do the same for the 360? Eventually, maybe, but not for the foreseeable future. The only reason Xbox Live support on the original Xbox was ended was due to limitations within the games themselves on the original Xbox – these elements couldn’t be changed, and as such, to advance the Xbox Live service on the 360, they had to finally end support on the original Xbox.
Comparing that to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One Live infrastructure, you can see in updates to the Xbox 360 the addition of features of the Xbox One, such as activity feed, which are a clear sign that the live service as present on the Xbox 360 is still flexible, and can grow alongside that of it’s implementation on the Xbox One.
Basically, the situation that caused them to finally kill the original Xbox is not an issue with the Xbox 360.
Still, eventually, games on the 360 will have their servers shut down. Eventually there will be no one playing those old games, and they will finally die off. One day, maybe, Microsoft will finally end access for the 360, but I don’t see that happening for many, many years.
It is a console well established in gaming history – a Go-To for many amazing game experiences. Even then, if playing a 360 game on the Xbox One, it is still the same service, and there is no reason for them to cut it off.
Don’t panic. Just think back and enjoy the legacy of a console that helped make online gaming a truly common thing on consoles. Pop in some Call of Duty or Halo and give the console some love.
As I always suggest, take care of your old consoles – clean them, maintain them, if you are skilled with such, and most of all, appreciate them for what they are. There is a reason many of us old timers still have our Nintendo Entertainment Systems from when we were kids.
On a personal note, I find it funny how I went so many years disliking the Xbox 360, yet now, I have bought a new one just a few months ago (perfectly timed, considering I bought it so I would have a new one when production inevitably ended), worked to save a launch-era console from being broken, and actually purchased a “Zero Hour” launch faceplate, a very rare part of Xbox 360 history, for my original console.
What can I say, I love gaming hardware.