Announcement and Demonstration
On March 10, 2000, Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation, announced the company's plans to manufacture a new video game console during the Game Developers Conference. The Xbox console was said to be three times more powerful than the leading video game console of the day. A few month later, Microsoft demonstrated what the Xbox console could do at the E3 entertainment conference to a crowd. At this point, Microsoft only had tech demos and needed a game to fully show how the Xbox would function. So, at the E3 conference, Microsoft and the developers of an obscure but impressive game called Halo first get together for mutual benefit. Microsoft needed a game to fill an empty spot in the Xbox demo lineup, and the Halo developers needed a big name to jumpstart an advertisement program for their game.
Xbox Gains Support
Before the Xbox was officially released, Microsoft had gained the support of over 150 game developers, including two of the biggest: EA and Sega. Due to remarkable teamwork between Microsoft and EA, several Xbox games, including the NASCAR franchise, would be ready to be released before the Xbox itself was released. Gaining the support of Sega gave gamers in Japan a reason to be interested in the Xbox.
The original Xbox was released in North America on November 14, 2001. Despite Nintendo releasing the GameCube only three days later, Microsoft sold over 1 million units in the first three weeks after the release date. This is a huge accomplishment, especially considering the critics who said that the console was too expensive and too ugly and that the controllers were too big. Because of the teamwork between Microsoft and game-developing companies, several big label games such as "Halo" and "Dead or Alive 3" are released at the same time, so many consumers not only bought the Xbox console, but also several games.
The game console was not as well received in Japan. After the Japan release date of February 22, 2002, only 123,000 units sold in the first week, and many stores began discounting the Xbox during the first month. In Europe, the Xbox had more success. Though slow to start selling after the release date of March 14, 2002, Xbox sales rapidly increased, helped by the popularity of the "Halo" game.
Xbox console sales were further helped by a dramatic price cut just a month after the original release. Microsoft dropped the price of the Xbox from $299 to $199, which brought the price to a level that many households could afford.
In November 2002, a year after the original release of the Xbox console, Microsoft began an online gaming service called Xbox Live. This service allows gamers to play with others from around the world, as well as allowing consumers to download games to their Xbox console straight from the Internet. This service proved popular, as Microsoft announced in July 2005 that 2 million gamers used the Xbox Live service.
The successor to the original Xbox, called Xbox 360, was released on November 22, 2005. This release date was nearly a full year before the other game consoles in its generation were released. The Xbox 360 features wireless controllers and compatibility with older games made for the original Xbox.
Today and the Future
As of February 2010, there are more than 23 million gamers using the Xbox Live gaming service. The year 2010 is predicted to be the best year in Xbox gaming history, due to the release of several high profile games, including "Halo: Reach," which is the prequel to "Halo," the best selling Xbox game franchise.