Xbox was released on November 15, 2001. Rumors about the Xbox began as early as 1999. Although Microsoft has been involved with PC games for years, they became involved with console hardware market with their operating system that ran the Sega Dreamcast. There is a strong possibility that this brought Microsoft into the console market. In March of 2000 the worlds worst kept secret becomes world wide news. After the opening of the Game Developers Expo, CEO Bill Gates delivered the keynote address and officially announces the Xbox console to the world. Equipped with an Intel 733 MHz Pentium III CPU, An Nvidia NV2a 250 MHz Graphics processor, 64 MB of unified RAM, an 8 GB Hard Drive, an out-of-the-box internet broadband internet support, the Xbox was to be a major player in the console race. Although it shares in similarities Gates stressed that the Xbox is not a PC in a consoles clothing. Weather or not it’s still debatable.
Ever since the NES was released the console market has been dominated by Japanese developers. Companies such as Atari and 3DO have tried to end this trend but inevitably failed. Microsoft would see to it that the Xbox would succeed. With over $500 million dollars geared toward the Xbox campaign, they used their deep pockets to not only market the console, but also garner the software developer support that the console needed to appeal to gamers world wide. On a funny note, Microsoft had to also file for an injunction on a lawsuit filed by Florida based company Xbox Technologies for rights to use the Xbox brand name.
The Xbox was unveiled in full at the consumer electronic show in January of 2001. With all the built in accessories, there would be no doubt that the Xbox can be noted as the largest home console in current history. The games would be in DVD format witch meant that the system could be used to watch DVDs with the purchase of a separate remote. The remote was sold separately for $30 so that Microsoft could avoid pricey DVD marketing fees. The controllers seemed to be remakes of their sidewinder PC controllers. Games could be saved either on the systems 8GB hard drive or on a portable memory stick. The system would also be broadband ready out of the box. The console is reported to be developer friendly, and with the ability to port PC games with ease. However early demonstrations of what was shown failed to illustrate that the Xbox was ten times better than its competition, as Microsoft had demonstrated in March. November 15th, 2001 Microsoft officially launched the Xbox at an event at New York City at Toys “r” us. Over 18 games were released with the console but the main game was called Halo which sold over 1.5 million units. They also reported 3 games sold with each sold.
With success garnered, Microsoft set their sights abroad. After numerous delays Microsoft finally released the Xbox in Japan on February 22, 2002. Understanding that there would be skeptics among Japanese gamers, they saw to release the console with 12 game titles attached to it. Also complaints of the large bulky controller forced Microsoft to redesign it to a smaller scaled down version (also known as S-controllers). To commemorate the launch Xbox also released several special edition consoles only for Japan. Unfortunately even with the major buzz Microsoft generated with the launch, debut was marred by complaints from users that the console was scratching game and DVD disks causing some stores to halt sales temporataly. The problem was corrected with parse from gamers every ware. Throughout the next few months, Microsoft struggled to sell out their initial shipment of Xbox units. Analysts believed that the scratch incident and the lack of interesting software for the Japanese market may have been the problem.
A month after its Japan release it appeared in Europe. Microsoft’s hope to match the success in America came close but not close enough. Six weeks after the Xbox European release Microsoft slashed its prices by nearly 40 percent and gamers that already bought an Xbox received a free “thank you package” including two free games and an extra controller. Further worldwide price cuts triggered an early price war that was good for gamers.
The Xbox console had a rocky start, but since then has brought abroad many talented 3rd Party software developers including old hardware guru Sega. Microsoft also introduced their online strategy called Xbox live. No matter how you look at it, the Xbox is truly an amazing machine. A machine that broke the pattern of American made console failures. Impressive to say the least.