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Happy Birthday, Xbox
November 15, 2011 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Today marks the 10th birthday of the Xbox. VentureBeat takes an in-depth look back at its history, from its rocky inception to the Kinect. Part 2.

Meanwhile the PS3 is only 1.3 million consoles short of catching up in lifetime sales.

Of course, both are slightly behind compared to the Wii.
posted by kyp (24 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the CVG article:

This is Bull$hit :-/ I bet the PS3 is in front already. But no way will these internet gaming sites or most of the internet admit it :-/

Oh platform partisans, never change.
posted by kmz at 6:23 PM on November 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Xbox 360 has been the only Microsoft product I have been consistently pleased with since DOS 6.22 in 1994. Sure, it's not perfect, luckily I have not had the 'red ring of death' that many other people had, but at least that was more of a manufacturing problem, and not so much a design problem.

It isn't perfect, but at least it's more reliable over the course of 6 years of use than just about any other Microsoft product I can think of/
posted by chambers at 6:40 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine paid his way through his masters year in college by jailbreaking Xboxes, putting big hard drives in, adding media centre software/emulator games/DivXs, and selling them via word of mouth and classified ads. He had a huge stack of 10GB hard drives by the end of the year.
posted by kersplunk at 6:50 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our TV alternates between having the Wii or the first-gen, hardware-hacked Xbox plugged in - usually the Xbox.
posted by exogenous at 6:55 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you softmodded the Wii? Because it's a lot of fun once you can install emulators and play foreign imports like Xenoblade.

I don't have a 360 for comparison, though.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2011


Ours is still going strong as a media centre - 720p is good enough for me, and XBMC is still the best media centre interface I've ever used. Just picked up a second one ($20 - w00t!) to run CoinOPS in a cabinet.

I have a 360 sitting there with a RROD. When I think about what might be involved in getting it going, I tend to think I'll just buy a Wii instead.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2011


The unsung hero of the hardware wars has always been the development tools.

When Sony entered the race in 95, they were desperate to compete with Sony and Sega and they worked hard on creating a super-simple platform with well-documented libraries. The dev kits were astronomically expensive, but they gave them out like candy to the bigger developers. Unsurprisingly, the PSX had incredible third-party support and ended up destroying the competition during the 32-bit era.

When the PS2 came out, their dominance led them astray. The Emotion Engine was painful to develop for and those incredibly expensive dev kits (about $15k per unit) had dreadful libraries that were only commented in Japanese. Seriously, nothing says "we love you, developers" like documenting an unintuitive dev platform in a foreign language.

At the same time, Microsoft was entering the fray. The dev kits were cheaper and the pitch was "hey, developers, do you like DirectX?" At just that time (2001), there were legions of PC development shops realizing that the shrinking PC market was never gonna rebound. They all flocked to the Xbox and, after figuring out that PC and Console games really aren't the same thing, started turning out some great games. Microsoft didn't "win" that generational war, but they placed surprisingly well.

And now? Sony and Microsoft played the exact same playbook. Sony turned a deaf ear to all the developer complaints and created the Cell platform. Microsoft said "how about the exact same development platform you already cut your teeth on, but with more power at the metal?" Sony is catching up because given enough time, developers really do learn the platform and make some amazing things on sony hardware (Shadow of the Colossus on PS2, anyone?). But they certainly don't make it easy.

(I'm leaving Nintendo out of this, because regardless of what anyone says, that system lives and dies by first-party software, and each generation of hardware is basically designed around whatever Shigeru Miyamoto wants to do next with Mario.)
posted by bpm140 at 7:05 PM on November 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ten years old? Goddamn. And it still manages to run Skyrim at what, to me, is a very presentable and playable framerate. That's not bad at all. I bought my first about seven or eight years ago, and I still have it, though I got a shinier one a couple of years back. That's a good return on investment, that I can still play the latest games. A top-of-the-line PC from ten years ago would be flat out booting Notepad.

I love my Xbox 360(s), and as far as electronics hardware that I have bought for my home, they have provided me with the most value for money, and despite three red-ring-return-to-base problems over the years I am still completely satisfied with them and will happily buy the next iteration.

The Xbox Live network, on the other hand, is an absolute clusterfucking debacle and a massive rip-off and I wish it a hot time in hell. I just bought this game and now you want me to PAY to go online with the thing? On MY internet connection? I hope your head falls off, Xbox Live!
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:14 PM on November 15, 2011


Oh wait, that's the first Xbox. Jeez. It FEELS like I got my 360 seven or eight years ago and I'm pretty sure I did, but I see it's only 6 years old, and I got it about a year after it came out, so I suppose that's only 5! Damn. Time flies when you've got egg all over your face. Still, everything I said still stands, with the exception that the PC from 5 years ago would now run Notepad okay but Wordpad would crash it. Tnx.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:18 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ten years old? Goddamn. And it still manages to run Skyrim at what, to me, is a very presentable and playable framerate. That's not bad at all. I bought my first about seven or eight years ago, and I still have it, though I got a shinier one a couple of years back. That's a good return on investment, that I can still play the latest games. A top-of-the-line PC from ten years ago would be flat out booting Notepad.

It's been 10 years since the launch of the original XBox. The Xbox 360 came out in 2005.
posted by kbanas at 7:19 PM on November 15, 2011


the original xbox is 10, not the 360. also, i have a very love/hate relationship with the 360, as i have found the endless UI changes to be more and more distasteful as they have progressed. i yearn for the times when the manufacturer didn't have a stated mandate of bringing content i demonstrably don't care about to my attention as a result of my disinterest.

just let me turn the fucking thing on and play a fucking game, please.

/get off my lawn
posted by radiosilents at 7:19 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Um, crap. That first line should have said "Nintendo and Sega". What I get for not proofreading.
posted by bpm140 at 7:19 PM on November 15, 2011


Have you softmodded the Wii? Because it's a lot of fun once you can install emulators and play foreign imports like Xenoblade.

The Wii is softmodded but I never did much after the mod, being lazy. Mostly the Xbox gets deployed to entertain overnight guests with various two-player games, like Mechwarrior, Stubbs the Zombie (so good!) and a couple of racing games (Gotham Street and some rally game). Thanks for the tip about Xenoblade on the Wii though, I might give it a try.
posted by exogenous at 7:22 PM on November 15, 2011


Exogeneous -- First game I ever worked on was MechWarrior4: Black Knight.
posted by bpm140 at 8:06 PM on November 15, 2011


the dreamcast got a raw fuckin' deal
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


bpm140: Your comments make me really want to pick up XNA and make something. Especially in light of what the "real" dev kits cost.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:13 PM on November 15, 2011


mccarty.tim: you should do it. Microsoft really does bend over backward to make development straightforward. One of my friends runs XBLA, so when you make something awesome, I can let him know :)
posted by bpm140 at 8:17 PM on November 15, 2011


From the article: "Luke decided, “Green is the signature color of technology ever since the beginning of time.” That’s a nice cover story, Blackley recalled, but he really believed Luke used green because it was the only one he had handy. Other people had stolen his other color markers."

Please be true please be true please be true.

I love the idea that Microsoft stuff gets designed this way. Presumably around 2005 someone else at Microsoft stole all the thermal paste.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:25 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I'll eventually upgrade my hacked XBox to some other media player. But probably not any time soon, and if I do, it probably won't totally be retired. There's a reason why I've probably watched as much TV from the Internet as anyone around here but have watched very, very few hours on a laptop or desktop monitor, and it's that ugly beautiful black and green box.

Reading -- probably on Metafilter, but maybe not -- what I could do to a gaming machine I'd stopped using awakened a hands-on geekery in me that, in some ways, went back to my youth, but in many ways, was something I'd never done before. I've enjoyed playing games on it, but messing around on the insides probably gave me, at least, easily twice as much fun.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:10 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please be true please be true please be true.

No idea on that one, but according to the Twisted Pixel guys, The Gunstringer was born in a last minute CYA situation:
The two agreed that it was probably their best shot at salvation, but it was barely even a mechanic, let alone a whole concept. In fact, the first opportunity they had to flesh the idea out at all was when Lutz excused herself to the restroom.

"Mike's kind of chatting with other Microsoft people, and I'm like, frantically looking around the restaurant just trying to think of ideas," Bear said. "To my left, there was this painting of a skeleton cowboy and I looked at it and just -- literally -- I was like 'OK: Skeleton cowboy that needs to get revenge on posse ... marionette. Fuck it.'"
Microsoft just bought Twisted Pixel a few weeks ago, BTW.
posted by kmz at 6:13 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right there with ya, MikeMcNamara. I got my first X-box as a freebie less than a year ago, and within days I had jailbroken it, bricked it, recovered from bricking, re-jailbroken, upgraded the hard drive, loaded XBMC and MAME (& about 3,000 ROMs) and had a blast the entire time. Granted, most of it requires little in the way of technical expertise, and lots of "following directions well," but it sure was fun pretending to be a "hacker" to all my friends.

If the original XBOX had hi-definition capabilities, I have no doubt it would still be my main media browser, as XBMC is perfect in every way for me.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2011


I've used XBMC on the Xbox classic as my primary entertainment system for the last seven years. I recently bought a softmodded one as a backup. (I also ruined one with soldering problems and use another one for parts).

I'll be switching over to a PC based XBMC system when I finally bother to get a nice TV largely because I want more functionality and lower power consumption but I am really happy with this setup.

The only thing I don't like is how difficult it is to delete music files in library mode.
posted by srboisvert at 11:16 AM on November 16, 2011


I have only had a chance to skim the article--I'll try to read over the weekend. The question I have as a futurist/optimist is what we can expect from the next generation (and when that may be).

I hardly ever get a chance to play my 360 these days, but the hardware is, admittedly, holding up pretty well. I had to replace my original white 360 with a new slim version a few weeks ago, but I'm really enjoying RDR, I have DX3 ready to go, and Skyrim is on my wishlist--all of which are great games, despite being a 5 year old platform.

What can be next!?! I really am agog to know what the Xbox 720 will be like in 2016. That's going to be amazing (or, maybe, it will come out in 2016 and not be amazing until 2018--but amazement awaits)!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:47 PM on November 16, 2011


What can be next!?! I really am agog to know what the Xbox 720 will be like in 2016.

this seems plausible
posted by eddydamascene at 10:13 PM on November 16, 2011


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