Microsoft’s Xbox video game console celebrates a milestone this month.
Xbox celebrates its 20th anniversary on Monday since its launch in 2001. Fans of the console probably remember then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates appearing onstage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a rising star from the WWE, Dwayne “The Rock”. Johnson (maybe you’ve heard of him).
On Monday, Microsoft commemorated the anniversary with a special livestream.
Several items are also available for purchase to honor the anniversary, including this special Gucci pack for $ 10,000.
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Here’s a look back at the 10 greatest moments in Xbox history:
Launch of the original Xbox
Microsoft made its leap into the video game console space in 2001 at a very competitive time for the market. Sony had just launched the PlayStation 2 a year ago, when Nintendo was still king with the Nintendo 64 and the just released GameCube. With Sega out of sight after production of the Dreamcast ceased, there was an opening for Microsoft.
In the 90s, Microsoft made several big hits in personal computer video games, including Age of Empires and Flight Simulator. “The company started working on the first Xbox in 1998, when the company’s hardware division wanted to make it easier for consumers to play PC-grade games and connect to each other. The original Xbox supported the option of connecting multiple devices together for multiplayer games. Among its other key features was a hard drive for game saves, a big draw for gamers tired of buying memory cards to store their progress.
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The first Halo too
There have been several games launched alongside the first Xbox, but none are more important than Halo: Combat Evolved. The first-person shooter starred Master Chief, an overpowered high-tech soldier battling the alien species called Covenant. It not only featured a single player adventure, but also a multiplayer mode with up to four players locally on a console.
Halo was essential to the Xbox for several reasons. First, he gave the fledgling console its signature star, much like Mario with Nintendo and Sonic for Sega. Halo has since spread to several other games as well as other entertainment platforms, including an upcoming TV series coming to Paramount + in 2022.
Halo has also proven that first-person shooter games can work on a console. The first shooters were played on PCs with a keyboard and mouse. The success of Halo, playable on two controllers, paved the way for other successful action titles on consoles including Call of Duty and Fortnite.
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The birth of Xbox Live
Launched in 2002, the service allowed Xbox gamers to play against each other online. Games ranging from NFL 2K3 to Halo 2 offered a multiplayer option. Other features on Xbox Live at launch included the introduction of gamertags, personal IDs you created when signing up, friend lists, voice chat, and matchmaking. This not only helped kickstart the online console gaming experiences we have now, but it also opened the door to amenities like the ability to download full games right to your device.
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Xbox 360 debuts
In 2005, Microsoft would release the second-generation Xbox, called Xbox 360. In addition to the typical graphics upgrades expected from newly released consoles, the 360 also supported the ability to play CDs and DVDs. It also supported several accessories, including a wireless internet adapter, wireless controllers, and custom faceplates.
“Red Ring of Death”
Several Xbox 360 owners would suffer what was called “the red ring of death”, a hardware failure that would render the console unusable. The signal was when the front of the console displayed three flashing red lights on the power indicator. In 2007, Microsoft extended console warranties for three years from the date of purchase. The costs of repairing faulty consoles have led Microsoft to take over more than a billion dollars.
Grand Theft Auto makes its debut
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2006, then Xbox executive Peter Moore rolled up his sleeve during an Xbox presentation to reveal the Grand Theft Auto IV logo, confirming that the franchise would be coming to Xbox 360.the next year. It was an important addition. Grand Theft Auto was arguably the most popular property in video games, with new versions only available on rival Sony’s PlayStation. This took another step forward in strengthening the Xbox brand.
Kinect tries to get you moving
With the Nintendo Wii dominating the landscape thanks to its motion gaming platform, Microsoft attempted a similar leap with the 2010 launch of Kinect, a system with a camera that can track your movements. Unlike the Wii, which required physical game controllers, Kinect used the camera system to track body movements and hand gestures.
This is the Xbox One
In 2013, Microsoft launched the Xbox One, the company’s third video game console. It was hampered by a higher price tag, brought in in part by pressure from Microsoft to get more Kinect sensors in homes. In November, the Xbox One launched for $ 499, compared to $ 399 for the PlayStation 4. Microsoft would eventually lower the price by ditching Kinect, which ultimately led the company to ditch the motion camera system altogether.
Xbox Game Pass
In 2017, Microsoft unveiled a Netflix-style service called Xbox Game Pass, where gamers could pay a monthly subscription to access dozens of games. In addition to older titles, the platform offers access to newer games on release day.
Xbox Series X and S are coming
Microsoft released its fourth video game consoles last year. The Xbox Series X and S models offered several important features, including faster download times for games, a Quick Resume option to immediately resume a game you paused, and support for earlier games and accessories.
Mike Snider contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @ brettmolina23.