Xbox - On this day
Microsoft is best known for its Windows operating systems. However, before Windows itself, Microsoft was involved in gaming, and back in 1982, it launched an aviation simulation, the first Microsoft Flight Simulator. In the 1990s, they still stuck to PC gaming alongside the popular strategy series Age of Empires, and then witnessed Sony’s success in the home console market.
The PlayStation 2 was announced back in 1999 as a device of wider application. In addition to playing games, he promised, for example, to play movies on DVD media. The then head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, decided that this should be responded to. Gates ’desire for years has been to push personal computers as general-purpose devices, as something used not only for work but also for entertainment. His dream of a PC in the living room was not realized in the 20th century, but in the late 1990s, a project codenamed Midway began to be “cooked”.
The name was symbolic as a reference to the Battle of Midway in which American forces defeated the Japanese army. In the 1990s, the console market was dominated by Japanese companies Sony, Sega, and Nintendo, and the Microsoft team focused on them. Their main hope was the DirectX programming interface they developed for Windows.
The idea was to create a device that has console accessibility and a foundation for easily switching games made for computers. It was from the DirectX API that the famous letter X emerged, from which Microsoft's first home console became the Xbox. But before the Xbox name came up, there were a host of other suggestions. Among the names considered were MTG - Microsoft Total Gaming, MIC - Microsoft Interactive Center, DirectX Box, Eleven-X, and the like.
The Xbox was officially announced in early 2000 - just as the competing PlayStation 2 was launched in Japan. Two things stood out with Microsoft's console: it came with a hard drive (the first in console history) and allowed an Internet connection using the built-in Ethernet port. The console included an Intel Pentium III processor clocked at 733 MHz, then 64 MB of RAM and Nvidia's NV2A graphics chip. It was the most powerful hardware of the sixth generation.
The Xbox was interesting to some developers because of its hardware, but not everyone was equally interested - especially developers from Japan. Over the next year, Microsoft, therefore, looked for different partners to develop games for their console. Microsoft has had the strongest partnerships with Bethesda and Bungie. Bethesda promised the then Elder Scrolls: Morrowind as an Xbox exclusive, while Bungie developed a first-person sci-fi shooter called Halo: Combat Evolved.
The Xbox console was launched for sale in the US on this day 20 years ago for $ 300. The release was accompanied by several prominent games such as the already mentioned Halo: Combat Evolved, Project Gotham Racing, and Dead or Alive 3. It was nowhere near what was offered on the PlayStation 2 at the time (GTA 3, MGS 2, Final Fantasy X, Gran Turismo 3, Silent Hill 2, Tony Hawk’s 3, Soul Reaver 2), but Halo as a rare first-person console shooter managed to find his audience.
The Xbox console was otherwise launched without its online gaming service. It waited for a full year, but it was worth it because Xbox Live set the standards that were later followed by all console manufacturers.
Although the competition in the form of the PlayStation 2 console was insanely successful and unattainable, in the period from 2002 to 2004, the Xbox managed to establish numerous partnerships and book significant exclusives. Of the major publishers, Sega and Ubisoft sided with Microsoft, and among the more notable Xbox console exclusives were the first Splinter Cell and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Reputable games such as Fable, Halo 2, and Forza Motorsport later followed from Microsoft’s kitchen.
Having fallen behind in the race with Sony, Microsoft retired the Xbox console relatively early - after less than five years on the market. Following the announcement of the Xbox 360, the first Xbox became clinically dead. By May 2006, 24 million Xbox consoles had been sold, of which 16 million were domestically in the United States. In Japan, the Xbox was not well received, and so it has remained to this day.
The Xbox was a financially unsuccessful project for Microsoft. Although they achieved a good sales result as the first American console since 1993, it was barely half of what the company's leaders predicted. However, their success came in the form of a recognizable physical product they had not had before. The Xbox has become a brand that through the ups and downs has remained synonymous with Microsoft’s vision of gaming.
That brand has never been the leader in the number of consoles sold (although they had leading periods with the Xbox 360), but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft’s investment in video games. Twenty years later the Xbox is still present, has the largest subscriber base in the gaming industry, and never a larger number of studios under its umbrella.