Xbox Essay

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Xbox  is  a  popular  brand   of  video  game  platforms  owned,  created,  and designed by Microsoft Corporation; it  was  first  launched  in  November 2001. To date, three Xbox consoles have been released:  (1) Xbox  (2001),  (2) Xbox  360  (2005), and  (3) Xbox  One  (2013).  These consoles  correspond with the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations of video game consoles, respectively. At present, Xbox’s  main  competitors are  Sony’s  Playstation and, to a much lesser degree, Nintendo Wii. Over its relatively brief history, Xbox has revolutionized home  video  gaming  through innovations such  as enhancing online gameplay capabilities (provided through  an  Internet-based  service  called  Xbox Live), providing  users with  downloadable gaming content  (e.g., expansion packs that provide gamers with   additional  missions,   playable   characters, items and  novelties,  etc.), and  allowing  gamers to save their  game progress  to the console’s internal hard drive, as opposed to an external memory card/stick  or battery.  Additionally, Xbox  consoles allow users to watch  television programs, movies, and music videos through a membership  to Xbox Live’s “Gold” service.

Microsoft has reaped  tremendous profits  from its Xbox  brand. Xbox  360 has sold more than  84 million units worldwide, 3 million more units than its  primary  competition, Playstation 3,  has  sold. Xbox  360  is the  sixth-biggest-selling video  game console in history, trailing behind only Playstation 2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Game  Boy, the  original Playstation, and  Nintendo Wii.  More   than   700 games were produced for Xbox 360, and the average Xbox  owner  purchased 7 games for his or her console. The original  Xbox  system sold 24 million copies  worldwide; Xbox  One  has  been  launched only recently, and its long-term  success is yet to be determined. The most popular games among Xbox gamers include the Halo, Call of Duty,  and Grand Theft  Auto  series.

History And Development

In 1998, a group of Microsoft multimedia engineers (Kevin Bachus, Seamus Blackley, Otto  Berkes, and Ted  Hase)  proposed to  Microsoft’s  chairman Bill Gates that the company develop its own video game console in addition to simply producing video game software  for  personal  computers (PCs). Designers developed  Xbox  to operate  on Windows  2000  and to  function  as  a  de  facto  PC,  thereby  exhibiting more  than  double  the  processing  power  of Sony’s Playstation console.  The  new  console  would  also feature  vastly more  memory  storage  capacity  than that available on Sony’s Playstation and Playstation 2,  each  of  which  required   gamers  to  save  their progress  on  costly  memory  cards  sold  separately from the console and its games. Originally  naming the console  DirectX  Box during  its early stages of development, Microsoft shortened the name later to simply “Xbox” after  initial  consumer  focus group trials revealed the popularity of the shortened name. Microsoft officially released Xbox to its North American  market  on November  15, 2001,  to great fanfare;   video   game   enthusiasts  had   purchased more than 1 million units by early December, despite the console’s hefty $299 price tag. The instant popularity of  Halo:  Combat Evolved   (an  Xboxexclusive game released simultaneously with the console’s launch) further  fueled sales.

The popularity of Xbox continued to grow throughout  2002   as  a  result  of  two   unrelated factors.  Sony’s Playstation 2, the  industry-leading console  at  the  time,  experienced   a  shortage   in supply of memory cards throughout the late winter and early spring of 2002–2003; this dilemma  only served  to  highlight  Xbox’s  internal  memory  storage capabilities  to frustrated gamers. In November 2002,  on  the  first  anniversary of Xbox’s  release, Microsoft  launched   its  online  gaming  network, Xbox  Live, which enabled  gamers to play against opponents online, communicate with one another, and download gaming content. More than 150,000 gamers subscribed  to Xbox  Live within  a week of its launch.  This  online  gaming  feature  proved  so popular that it induced Sony to develop a network adapter for its Playstation 2 console.

While Microsoft was in the process of developing its next-generation console,  Xbox  360, in late 2004,  the  company   released  Halo  2.  The  game proved  an instant  hit, with 2.5 million copies sold within its first 24 hours on November 9, 2004, generating  more  than  $124  million  in total  revenue.  Halo  2 remains  the  biggest-selling  game  for the original Xbox, with more than 6 million copies sold in the United States alone.

Xbox 360 And Xbox One

Microsoft released  Xbox  360  on  November   22, 2005,   while  gradually   phasing   out  the  original Xbox  console  between  2005  and  2008.  Although the  original  console  sold  more  than   24  million units  globally,  these  sales  were  less than  half  of what  Microsoft executives  had  predicted   at  the time of Xbox’s launch. More than 1.5 million units of the new console were sold by the end of 2005, while  Xbox  360  sales approached 40  million  by 2010. The Xbox 360 featured a sleek, cordless controller that  provided   gamers  with  newfound freedom  and comfort, and the 360 dominated the video game market over a 2½-year period from January  2011 to June 2013, when it reigned as the nation’s best-selling console. That the 360 has remained  relevant  for more than  8 years (from its release  in  November   2005   until  the  middle  of 2014, the time of this writing) is extremely impressive, as consoles typically feature  a shelf life of only a few years. The development and  release of Kinnect, a motion-sensing device, for Xbox 360 in 2010 is credited largely with extending  the console’s life.

Nevertheless,  Microsoft released  Xbox  One— its eighth-generation video game console—on November   22,  2013,  in  North America.  Despite Microsoft’s  success with its previous two consoles, sales for Xbox  One have only been approximately half of those  for Sony Playstation 4 (also released in the fall of 2013). As of August 2014, more than 9 million Playstation 4 units have been sold, compared with 5 million units of Xbox  One.

Criticism

Xbox  360  generated  a large volume  of consumer complaints and  criticism  regarding   its  infamous “red ring of death,” which signified a dead console that was unable to be revived. In its haste to release the 360 for the 2005 holiday season, Microsoft shipped a large volume of consoles to retailers that featured  defective  hardware. Internal  mechanical problems  could  lead  the  console  to  encounter a fatal  “general   hardware failure”  that  manifested itself in the form of a red glow that  covered three-quarters of the system’s circular  power  button. A series  of  urban   legends  and  myths  on  how  to overcome  the  “red  ring  of  death,” generated   by gamers,  appeared in online  forums  and YouTube, although the  appearance of the  dreaded  red  ring almost  always meant  that  the console was useless, thus  obliging  gamers  to  shell  out  an  additional $399  for another system.

References:

  1. Marshall, Rick. “The History  of the Xbox.” Digital Trends (May 12, 2013). http://www.digitaltrends.com/ gaming/the-history-of-the-xbox/#!bH9vSA
  2. Russell, Jamie. Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded East Sussex, UK: Yellow Ant, 2012.
  3. Takahashi, Dean. Xbox: The Making of a Bad-Ass Machine. San Francisco: Venture  Beat, 2011.

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