Xbox Initial Announcement
Initial Announcement and Content Acquisitions
In late 1999, Gates first revealed the Xbox in an interview, claiming that he wanted "the system to be the platform of choice for the world's best and most innovative game developers."
At the Game Developers Conference in San Jose on March 10, 2000, Gates formally unveiled Windows XP at a keynote address, displaying an early prototype of the system and a series of demonstrations showcasing its hardware.
The new interface and system were well-received, with both the hard drive and Ethernet connection impressing developers. The idea of simple to use development tools enticed them.
Microsoft began pursuing a number of acquisitions and partnerships to guarantee the console's content at this point. In early 2000, sales of the Sega Dreamcast were falling, in part due to Electronic Arts' decision to skip the system and Sony's PlayStation 2 just becoming available in Japan.
Gates was in negotiations with the late Sega president Isao Okawa to bring Xbox games to the Dreamcast, but they broke down over whether or not SegaNet, the Dreamcast's online service, should be adapted. Microsoft also tried to buy Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Square Enix, and Midway without luck.
The success of the Xbox marketing was due in no small part to Microsoft's ability to persuade developers at Bethesda Game Studios and Tecmo of the superiority of Xbox over PlayStation 2. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Dead or Alive 3 were announced as Xbox console exclusives, ensuring that Sony would struggle alone with its lack of exclusive titles.
Around the same time, Microsoft announced that it would rename its Games Group, which had specialized in creating games for Windows, to the Microsoft Games division to release titles for both Windows and Xbox.
In June 2000, Microsoft bought Bungie, the creators of Halo: Combat Evolved, shortly after the announcement of the game. As a launch moment to help drive sales of the console, Halo went from being a PC release to an Xbox exclusive release as a result of Microsoft's acquisition.
Formal announcement and launch
The Xbox was introduced to the public by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson during CES 2001 in Las Vegas on January 3, 2001. At E3 2001 in May, Microsoft revealed Xbox release dates and costs. Halo and Dead or Alive 3 were among the most notable titles revealed at E3, with the majority of launch games announced there.
The 9/11 terror attacks had an impact on the launch of the drive, as Microsoft was unable to go to Guadalajara to assist with testing. They were able to have the units delivered locally rather than testing them at Microsoft facilities in order to prepare them for release.
The Nintendo GameCube was released less than three days later, on November 19, 2001. The system's official release took place at midnight on November 15, two days before the GameCube's scheduled release date of November 21. Last night saw the opening of Toys "R" Us' flagship store in New York City's Times Square, where 1,000 consoles were handed out to start sales.
At an Xbox-centric event in Southern California, Bill Gates was on hand to sell the original Xbox console and greet people in line as well as participate in games with them on the many display panels.
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) banned an Xbox TV ad in the United Kingdom in 2002 after receiving several complaints that it was "offensive, alarming, and in poor taste." It featured a mother giving birth to a baby who was shot like a projectile through a window and rapidly aged as she flew through the air. The ad concludes with an old man crashing into his own grave and the tagline "Life is short. Play more."
Discontinuation and successors
On May 12, 2005, MTV revealed the follow-up to Xbox, dubbed "Xbox 360." It was the first next-generation system to be announced. It launched in North America on November 22, 2005. In August of the same year, Nvidia discontinued production of the new Xbox GPU, bringing an end to mass production of the new Xbox.
The King of Fighters Neowave was the last Xbox game in Japan, released in March 2006, and Xiaolin Showdown was the last European release, released in June 2007. In August 2008, Madden NFL 09 was the last North American release.
Microsoft debuted its Xbox Live online gaming network on November 15, 2002, allowing gamers to play games from around the world and download new material straight to their system's hard drive. Only a broadband Internet connection is required for use.
In the first week, one million Xbox Live memberships were sold and the service grew to 250,000 subscribers in two months after its debut. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that one million people have joined Xbox Live; membership reached two million by July 2005, and three million by July 2007.
In May 2009, there were 20 million active subscribers. It was revealed on February 5, 2010 that Xbox Live support for original Xbox games would be discontinued on April 14, 2010. Services were halted as planned, but a group of users known as the "Noble 14" persisted playing for nearly a month by keeping their consoles linked to Halo 2 after services were shut down.