The Xbox is a sixth generation era of video game console produced by Microsoft Corporation. It was first released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and on March 14, 2002 in Europe and Australasia. It is the predecessor to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. The Xbox was Microsoft's first independent venture into the video game console arena, after having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console included Halo: Combat Evolved, Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, Dead or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing, and Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee.
The Xbox was initially developed within Microsoft by a small team which included Seamus Blackley, a game developer and high energy physicist. The rumors of a video game console being developed by Microsoft first emerged at the end of 1999 following interviews of Bill Gates. Gates said that a gaming/multimedia device was essential for multimedia convergence in the new times of digital entertainment. On March 10, 2000 the "X-box Project" was officially confirmed by Microsoft with a press release.
According to the book Smartbomb, by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby, the remarkable success of the upstart Sony Playstation worried Microsoft in late 1990s. The growing video game market seemed to threaten the PC market which Microsoft had dominated and relied upon for most of its revenues. Additionally, a venture into the gaming console market would also diversify Microsoft's product line, which up to that time had been heavily concentrated into software.
According to Dean Takahashi's book, "Opening the Xbox", the Xbox was originally going to be called DirectX-box, to show the extensive use of DirectX within the console's technology. "Xbox" was the final name decided by marketing, but the console still retains some hints towards DirectX, most notably the "X"-shaped logo, which DirectX is famous for, along with the "X" shape on the top of the system.
The system has been discontinued as of 11.13.05
As time progressed Microsoft's J Allard was responsible for the hardware and system software development. Ed Fries was responsible for all game development on the platform. Mitch Koch was responsible for sales and marketing and all three reported to Robbie Bach. This team was also primarily responsible for Microsoft's follow-up product, the Xbox 360.
- See also: List of Xbox games
The Xbox launched in North America on November 15, 2001. The greatest success of the Xbox's launch games was Halo: Combat Evolved which was critically well received and was the best-selling xbox game of the year for 4 years running. Halo still remains one of the console's standout titles, while its sequel Halo 2 became the best-selling title of the console and enjoyed a long reign as the most played game on the Xbox Live service until November 13, 2006 when the hit Xbox 360 title Gears of War claimed the top spot. Other successful launch titles included NFL Fever 2002, Project Gotham Racing and Dead or Alive 3 ). However, the failure of several first-party games (including Fuzion Frenzy and Azurik: Rise of Perathia ) damaged the initial public reputation of the Xbox.
Although the console enjoyed strong third party support from its inception, many early Xbox games did not take full advantage of its powerful hardware, with few additional features or graphical improvements to distinguish them from the PS2 version, thus negating one of the Xbox's main selling points. Lastly, Sony countered the Xbox for a short time by temporarily securing PlayStation 2 exclusives for highly anticipated games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance although they were later ported to the Xbox and no longer exclusive.
In 2002 and 2003, several releases helped the Xbox to gain momentum and distinguish itself from the PS2. The Xbox Live online service was launched in late 2002 alongside pilot titles MotoGP, MechAssault and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon. Several best-selling and critically acclaimed titles for the Xbox were published, such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Ninja Gaiden and LucasArts' Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Take-Two Interactive's exclusivity deal with Sony was amended to allow Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and its sequels to be published on the Xbox. In addition, many other publishers got into the trend of releasing the Xbox version alongside the PS2 version, instead of delaying it for months.
In 2004, Halo 2 set records as the highest-grossing release in entertainment history making over $100 million in its first day, as well as being a successful killer app for the online service. That year, Microsoft and Electronic Arts reached a deal that would see the latter's popular titles enabled on Xbox Live.