Microsoft has certainly had an eventful week. The unveiling of the new Xbox One has got gamers going back and forth on what the console has and hasn’t revealed. Some are waiting in anticipation, while others are still skeptical. But one thing’s for sure, there is quite a lot riding on Microsoft’s next E3 presentation.
It was at E3 that many gamers were introduced to the first Xbox in the year 2000. In direct competition with Sony’s highly successful PS2 and Nintendo’s Gamecube, Microsoft’s newcomer dazzled and delighted gamers with its seemingly space-age technology.
The Xbox pioneered several gaming innovations, such as a built-in hard disk that allowed you to save games directly to the console, eliminating the need for easily-lost memory cards. But perhaps its most revolutionary contribution to the gaming world was the Xbox Live, the first critically successful online service.
Released in 2002, the Xbox Live service was the first subscription based universal online service for a video game console. Players could have one user name and one friends list for every game they owned or ever would own on an Xbox, making it fast and easy for them to connect to the online gaming arena.
The flawless online interaction of Xbox Live gave the Xbox a reputation as the leading online multiplayer console, and many a gamer was introduced to this online revolution through Xbox’s most famous first-person shooter franchise: Halo.
At that same E3 conference that introduced gamers to the Xbox, video game developer Bungie was introduced to Microsoft. At the time, Bungie was working on a little title called Halo: Combat Evolved. Less than a month later, Microsoft announced that it had acquired Bungie, making Halo an Xbox exclusive title. One that spawned a billion dollar multi-media franchise, one of the largest and most successful in the history of video games.
Halo, Xbox Live, and all of its technical innovations made the original Xbox highly successful. In North America, the Xbox sold 1.53 million units; beating out its competitors.
Only 4 years after the original Xbox hit the shelves, Microsoft released the Xbox 360. A sleeker, more futuristic look belayed the enormous processing power underneath. The Xbox 360 offered vastly improved versions of everything in the original Xbox, and then some.
Xbox Live was made bigger and better, with more things to do and buy on the service. Enhanced online play, buying games online, voice chat, achievements, etc; lead gamers to flock to the 360 as if it were an online paradise.
But another key to the 360’s success came in the form of the Kinect. Much like the Wii and the PSeye, the Kinect was a little camera that allowed you to play games in a different way. But what set apart the Kinect from the other two devices was the complete elimination of a controller; advanced motion sensing technology could sense your every move and turn it into movement in the game.
Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that the little camera was yet another revolutionary breakthrough for the 360. Selling 77.2 million units worldwide, the 360 was the top-selling console everywhere except Japan, becoming the leader in the seventh-generation console competition.
But all of this recently came to a head on May 21st, when Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, another chapter in the Xbox’s history.
Promising a new wave of innovations, the little we’ve seen from the Xbox One is already quite impressive. Completely wireless and button-less, the Xbox One seems to be controlled completely through voice command and face and movement-recognition technology in the brand new Kinect.
In addition, the Xbox One lends itself completely to multi-media. Being able to watch live television, movies, all while streaming music, chatting on Skype, or, of course, playing games, Microsoft markets the Xbox One as the essential piece of your future living room.
But not yet satisfied with that, Microsoft also showed off its own, original media available to Xbox users through Xbox Live, such as an exclusive Halo T.V. series co-developed by none other than Steven Speilberg. And much, much more on the way.
Quite the evolution from the old black box that we all saw back in 2001.