When the first console Xbox began to fill the shelves of North American stores, on November 15, 2001, the PlayStation 2 -with which he shared the generation- had already been on the street for about a year, the Nintendo Game Cube barely added a few months of life and the Dreamcast, Sega’s latest machine, was near discontinuation. By then, Microsoft, the parent company, was already among the technology companies set to transform the world for decades to come. Beyond its work in computer science, the company Bill Gates He had already made his first steps in the world of video games through software development. Making the leap to hardware creation was not
simple task, even the plan, when it was already advanced, was close to being truncated.
This was recognized by Ed Fries, in charge of the team in charge of creating the first Xbox, in a
interview with ‘IGN’ some years ago. According to him, neither Bill Gates nor the businessman and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Steve Ballmer, therefore an executive of Microsoft, were clear that it was the appropriate path. In the end, they gave in after a marathon reunion on Valentine’s Day. The reason? The potential threat that Sony, the parent company of PlayStation, could represent in the future if the American technology company did not decide to compete with it in the home video game market.
Guys, I’m going to give you everything you want. I am going to approve the plan, I am going to let you do what you want, I will give you all the necessary resources, you will be separated from the rest of the company so that no one interferes, “Gates said shortly before the meeting ended, as Fries recalled. Said and done. The console was announced on January 3, 2001 within the framework of the CES technology fair in Las Vegas. During the event, Bill Gates was accompanied by actor The Rock, who referred to the machine stating that “the Xbox is everything The Rock is”, for example, “avant-garde and powerful.” And reason was not lacking.
The first try
The machine that landed on the shelves in November 2001 was the most powerful console ever to be marketed. In addition, it had a catalog that includes the first exponents of such recognizable sagas as Halo, Forza or Fable. It also gave a home to titles such as ‘Crimson Skies’, ‘Ninja Gaiden’, ‘Star Wars: Knights of the old republic’ or jewels and continuations of the defunct Dreamcast, such as ‘Shenmue 2’ or ‘Jet Set Radio’. Almost nothing.
The experience that the user had when using the first Xbox was obviously quite far from what can be experienced with the most recent systems. “Twenty years ago, playing on Xbox meant connecting your console with three (or more!) Cables to a standard definition CRT television. You had to pre-order the hottest new games and queue at your favorite retail store to buy them. The games were played in 640×480 resolution, and you only had 8GB of storage and 64MB of memory to enjoy them. And you played alone or with a friend sitting next to you on the couch, “said in a recent statement Lawrence Hryb, director of programming for Microsoft’s video games division.
Despite the benefits of the first Xbox, of enormous proportions and close to 4 kilos of weight, it only convinced 24 million users, most of them Americans, so that they made a hole next to the television. Its direct competition, Sony, managed to commercialize 160 million PlayStation 2s worldwide.
2006 was the year of Xbox 360, considered by most to be the most important console that Microsoft has built to date. At least, at the sales level it was the most competitive, coming very close with its 86 million consoles sold to the 90 of PS3 when both were withdrawn from the market. It also gave birth to the Gears of War saga, whose fifth installment is among the best of its successor, the Xbox One. Perhaps an important part of the success of Microsoft’s second video game machine was had by Sony itself, which started to the generation putting a price of 600 euros to their systems, while those of Microsoft stayed at 400.
The Xbox 360 received a major facelift compared to the original machine. The console was noticeably slimmer and was designed to be supported vertically by the user. Saving the distances, in appearance it even reminds a bit of the current PlayStation 5, although with a noticeably smaller size. The device also received authentic gems in the form of a video game, such as ‘Alan Wake’, ‘Fable 2’, ‘Gears of War 2’ or ‘Halo Reach’.
Another Game Pass
In 2013 it was the turn of the Xbox One. The system was weighed down by the mandatory nature of the Kinect, a peripheral that made the console more expensive by 100 euros. Meanwhile, Sony took off like a rocket with a PS4 that, between 2015 and 2016, when the ‘Uncharted 4’, ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’ and company arrived, it was already practically unattainable in sales. Phil Spencer, director of Microsoft’s video games division, took pains to convert the Game Pass, the company’s subscription video game platform that allows you to enjoy more than a hundred works for 9.99 euros per month, in its great fulcrum through which to grow over the years. The service was born in 2017 and has become a mainstay of the company.
As part of this policy, the American company has also been buying new studios destined to supply great proposals to its consoles and online services. Regarding the hardware, Xbox One, especially its version X, was a much more powerful console graphically than PS4. In addition, it is less noisy and has fewer overheating problems. However, its catalog of exclusives, including ‘Gears 5’, is far behind in quantity and quality from that of PlayStation 4.
The Series are coming
The new generation of consoles started a year ago and, to date, has been marked by the problems of companies to meet the demand for systems. Microsoft, in particular, has opted for two machines differentiated by their technical capabilities: the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X.
The first is only compatible with digital video games, has a lower power and is designed for those less frequent users who simply settle for a machine with which to play the latest proposals without having to scratch their pocket more. Its price is 299.99 euros. The Series X, meanwhile, is the company’s great asset to convince the most demanding user. It can be obtained (or it could be in case there was enough ‘stock’) for 499.99 euros. With the permission of the PS5, this is the most powerful system currently on the market. Also the one we use at ABC to test most of the multiplatform titles that come out on the market.
Xbox has placed high hopes on the two machines, of which it is estimated that more than 8 million units have already been marketed. Just as it has put them on its subscription video game platform, where the major releases developed by company studios go at no added cost. In their first months of life, desktops have received exclusive titles such as ‘Forza Horizon 5’ and ‘Microsft Flight Simulator’. In just a few months it will be the turn of ‘Halo: Infinite’, a title called to be the mainstay in the first years of the new generation for Microsoft and which has just opened its online beta.