Xbox celebrates its twentieth anniversary: the story of a gaming icon
Today Xbox officially accomplishes twenty years. It’s been a long time now since Microsoft it launched into a market which at the time was totally dominated by Japanese producers, also due to the crisis in the industry that had occurred a few years earlier. On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Xbox, we retrace the highlights of its history, from 2001 until today.
Xbox celebrates its 20th anniversary
Even before 2001, the year in which the first Xbox console debuted, Microsoft already had its eye on the gaming sector as demonstrated by the various Age of Empires and Flight Simulator. However, the Redmond giant refused to make its entry into the console market until Sony presented its PlayStation 2, which for various reasons constituted a watershed in the history of the medium.
In this sense, Microsoft’s choice was clear: the company did not want to be limited to a purely professional ecosystem, since this would have precluded a large slice of the market. Microsoft’s first move was therefore to contact SEGA first to implement Windows on Dreamcasta project later abandoned due to the lack of success of the console, and then Sony itself, which declined the offer preferring its own ecosystem.
Having had negative feedback from both sides, at that point Bill Gates decided to create his own game console and to do so he hired the same engineers and programmers who developed the DirectX for Microsoft along with members of WebTVa very experienced hardware company.
In the end it was the DirectX project that was approved by Gates, in 1999, since it provided for the presence of a Hard Disk and an ecosystem based on connectivity, in direct contrast to what Sony offered with PlayStation 2. The console was supposed to put the Windows operating system in the center, but things didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Xbox is born
Production costs forced the team to review the presence of a Windows operating system directly integrated on the consoleand, although Gates was not thrilled with this renunciation, he gave his green light anyway, since defeating Sony at home was much more important in those years.
Microsoft’s console derived almost entirely from PC hardware: a Intel Pentium III at 180 nm and clocked at 733 MHz, in a slightly customized version. To make matters worse, Xbox integrated a real hard drivewhich on the one hand allowed the console to free itself from memory card for bailouts, and on the other hand to access a whole series of services that were previously impossible to obtain.
It is no coincidence that this is one of the first home consoles to allow play online in a reliable and structured way via ethernet line. In short, the first Xbox at its release was a technical gem, which fielded various innovative elements, which then defined the standards of the market. But a console is nothing without games, and from that point of view Microsoft did not miss anything.
Halo and other 90 pieces
As the console boasted state-of-the-art performance, Microsoft didn’t skimp on the quality of the supported titles. In the first instance we have the ports, like those of Doom 3 and Half Life 2titles that needed a great PC but ran surprisingly well on Xbox, despite some obvious visual compromises.
Xbox during its eight years of marketing sold about 25 million units, an encouraging figure, but which did not fall within the estimates of Microsoft, which expected to place more than double. On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Xbox, however, we can say without a shadow of a doubt that the adventure of the Redmond giant in gaming has been nothing short of success, just take a look at the exclusives that were born on the console.
Series like that of Halo, Forza Horizon or Fable, have contributed to the history of the video game and have such power that they have withstood the test of time without problems. We just have to wait to find out what are the plans for the future of Microsoft, which with the Game Pass is creating a playful ecosystem that is unique in its kind.