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Xbox is a gaming brand distributed by Microsoft that was launched in 2001, with consoles in the sixth through eighth generations. The brand also incorporates an online service known as Xbox Live, which allows users to play multiplayer games over the server as well as download new content. Online, Xbox fans are often found competing in “console wars” with fans of Playstation and Nintendo consoles.
The first Xbox console was released in North America on November 15th, 2001, marking the first American-made console since the Atari Jaguar ceased production in 1996. It was released globally in 2002, but the system had the most success in North America.
One year prior to the Xbox’s release, Microsoft acquired the video game development company Bungie to make games exclusively for the system. Their first project with Microsoft first-person shooter game Halo: Combat Evolved was selected as the launch title for the Xbox. The game went on to sell more than 1 million copies in five months, breaking the record for any previous sixth-generation console game. By November 2005 when the Xbox 360 was launched, Halo: Combat Evolved had sold 5 million copies.
Seeing a future in broadband online gaming, Microsoft equipped every Xbox with an Ethernet port, skipping over modem and dial-up support. Though execs hinted at an online service at the Xbox’s launch, it did not recieve the name Xbox Live until 2002’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) convention. The system was launched on November 15th, 2002 with a $49.99 starter kit, including a year’s worth of the service, a headset and starter disc.
The system allows users to create a handle called a Gamertag which also collects statistics about the player and his or her games. This let the system scan one’s statistics for random opponents based on their skill level when starting up online matches. Xbox Live also provides downloadable content for games, and had a roster update for Sega’s NFL 2K3 available on launch.
The Xbox 360 was announced in 2005 through an alternate reality game called OurColony, created by 42 Entertainment that March. The game required players to create “colonies” with each other, receiving challenges based on the number of members in their group. Each successfully completed challenge revealed a piece of a photo of the redesigned console. The game ended on May 12th, 2005 with a video (shown below) of Microsoft executives introducing the Xbox 360.
The same day, the Xbox 360 was unveiled in a television special that aired on MTV. The next week, Bill Gates appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine with the console, where the author called the Xbox 360 “the greatest piece of game-playing hardware the world has yet seen.” The console was released in Japan and North America in November 2005 with a selection of 7 and 18 launch titles repectively. At the time of its release, a $299.99 basic edition and a $399.99 20 GB premium version were made available. As of May 2013, there have been seven different versions of the hardware, ranging in prices from $479.99 to $199.99.
On May 21st, 2013, Microsoft announced the Xbox One, scheduled to be released by the end of that year. The system is expected to incorporate access to streaming movies, live television, Internet Explorer and Skype. The system would also use the Kinect motion sensing device as a voice sensor, allowing users to speak commands to the console. The system will also feature its own operating system, Xbox OS, as well as two additional systems that would allow for players to use streaming services like Skype while in-game.
Twelve launch games were also announced, including new additions to the Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty franchises. However, it was also announced that the system would not be backward-compatible with Xbox 360 games. The console will only be available in the United States at launch and will require a special receiver for live television streaming.
Being Microsoft’s first foray into the console gaming market, the sales of XBox was generally perceived as successful upon its launch in North America. Within three months, 1.53 million Xboxes had been sold in the market, more than the Gamecube, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii and Wii U. By May 2006, more than 24 million Xboxes had been sold across the world, with roughly 16 million units in North America, six million units in Europe and just over two million units in Japan.
Prior to its release, Microsoft anticipated 10 million Xbox Live subscribers by 2007. That March, Xbox Live had more than 6 million subscribers who had logged more than 2.3 billion hours of gameplay and exchanged 2 million voice and text messages per day. By February 2013, Microsoft reported more than 46 million Xbox Live subscribers.
In North America, more than 326,000 units were sold the first month, but the company missed their goal of 3 million units worldwide within 90 days. Despite this, Microsoft was not able to keep up with the demand of sales in Europe and North America, resulting in 10% of all Xbox 360s sold being resold at a higher price on eBay by December 2005. As of March 31st, 2013, there have been more than 77.2 million Xbox 360 consoles sold worldwide.
On October 28th, 2013, YouTuber DigitalFoundry uploaded a side-by-side comparison of the game Battlefield 4 playing on a Xbox One at 720p resolution and a PS4 at 1080p resolution (shown below, left), On October 31st, the video games news blog EuroGamer published an article titled “Xbox One Resolutiongate: the 720p fallout,” which argued that the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 was visibly “crisper and cleaner.” On November 1st, Redditor N4N4KI submitted a post to the /r/truegaming subreddit asking why gaming sites were “downplaying” the difference in resolution between the two gaming systems. The same day, the pop culture blog Cinema Blend published an article noting that many gaming news sites had downplayed the disparity in resolution between the Xbox One and PS4. On November 4th, Rev3Games host Adam Sessler defended the Xbox one in a YouTube video (shown below, right), arguing that the difference between 720p and 1080p HD was often negligible.
Since its launch in 2001, the official XBox forum hub site has become popular destination for the console gamers, providing a wide range of console-related and title-specific information as well as technical support and troubleshooting services. Outside of the official community, there are numerous other independently-run news sites such as This is XBox, XBLA Fans, X Box Kinect Fans and BritXBox, as well as discussion forum communities, including XBox Live Fan Forum, IGN’s Team XBox Forum, XBox Live Gamer Hub, XBox Live Nation and XBox Life Community. As of May 2013, the official Facebook fan page for the XBox console has accumulated more than 21.6 million likes.
Huge Like Xbox
Huge Like Xbox is an expression referring to the first generation Xbox released by Microsoft in 2001, which mocked the gaming console’s large size and bulky appearance.
XBox Crazy Lady
Xbox Crazy Lady is the nickname of an Argentinian actress who auditioned for a commercial for the Xbox 360 that surfaced on YouTube in September of 2006. In the footage, the woman pretends to fire an invisible pistol while yelling exploding sound effects.
Xbox 360 Kid
Xbox 360 Kid is the nickname given to a teenage boy with braces featured on a sales flyer for the Xbox 360. The photograph of the boy has been heavily remixed in MS Paint-style illustrations, bearing many similarities to fsjal artworks.
Fake Xbox 360 Achievements
Fake Xbox 360 Achievements are photoshopped images resembling achievements that are unlocked by players connected to Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE online gaming system.
Red Ring of Death
Red Ring of Death is a slang term for the red notification light on Xbox 360 consoles indicating that a general hardware failure has occured. Do to the frustration caused by attempting to fix the various problems associated with the red ring, many grew to associate the notification with dread.
Why They Call it an Xbox 360
Why They Call it an Xbox 360 is a joke claiming that the console was named the “Xbox 360” because when people see it, they turn 360 degrees around and walk away. The joke has inspired the creation of many comics and image macros using the punchline.