Weird Facts About Xbox History; Impress Your Friends
The Xbox brand has had its ups and downs, and many of the decisions Microsoft has taken in the console market have a fascinating backstory. With that in mind, here are a few weird facts about Xbox history you might not have known about.
Microsoft’s foray into the console market around the turn of the century surprised the industry. Despite the fact that Microsoft was one of the world’s most successful technological businesses, the idea of an American company competing directly in an industry controlled by Japanese titans like Sony and Nintendo appeared risky to some. The initial Xbox system established Microsoft as a key competitor in the space with a strategy focused on powerful hardware, sophisticated software, and online gaming, even if it fell far short of Sony’s PlayStation 2.
10 Weird Facts About Xbox History
Epic Games Convinced Microsoft to Increase the Xbox 360’s Power
Gears of War, released a year into the Xbox 360’s lifecycle, is frequently regarded as the first real “next-gen” game (at least by 2006 standards), as Epic Games’ third-person shooter was a visual powerhouse designed to showcase Microsoft’s hardware’s potential. However, if Epic hadn’t been able to force Microsoft’s hand on one key hardware decision, Gears of War might not have been as amazing as it was.
The Last Original Xbox Game
After the debut of its successor, the Xbox 360, in 2005, Microsoft abruptly abandoned the original Xbox, but the device was still supported with fresh software from third-party publishers for several years. The Xbox’s final game wasn’t released until August 12, 2008, over three years later. When it comes to consoles, sports titles are usually the last to go, so it’s no surprise that Madden NFL 09 was the Xbox’s final release. On April 15, 2010, Microsoft discontinued Xbox Live support, thereby ending support for the platform.
The Gamerscore Leader Has a Lifetime Xbox Live Subscription
The Achievements system on the Xbox 360 offers a new way to connect with games by offering a number of meta-objectives to aim towards. While most Xbox users are merely casually interested in their Achievements and Gamerscore, some have been compulsively dedicated since the beginning. Ray Cox (The World’s Gamerscore Leader) has the highest Gamerscore in the world, with a score of 1,734,120 as of this writing. Stallion83’s dedication was recognized by Microsoft, who rewarded him with a genuine gold Xbox Live subscription, which entitles him to free service for the rest of his life. When he reaches the two million milestone, maybe he’ll get a lifetime supply of games as well.
Sonic was Almost an Xbox Launch Title
The early 2000s were a chaotic moment in the console market, with one giant (Sega) falling and another rising in the form of Microsoft’s Xbox. Sega was looking to sell some of its brands (at least potentially), and Microsoft was first in line to buy. It turns out that Microsoft had its eyes on Sonic the Hedgehog, which was still one of the most popular gaming franchises at the time, and releasing a new Sonic game with the Xbox would have been a tremendous power play.
The Green Orb’s Meaning
Microsoft marketed the Xbox as the world’s most powerful game system (which it was), and what better way to communicate that strength than with a large green glowing orb? According to Seamus Blackley, green was the only color the console’s creator, Horace Luke, had on hand when all of his beautiful marker pens were stolen, thus the hue stuck — to the point that a large green ball was placed in the center of the Xbox’s design. The idea was that it would give the impression that the Xbox was a nuclear-powered machine brimming with energy and potential (the orb can also be seen in the original Xbox-s boot-up animation).
Xbox One Controllers $100 Million Cost
The Xbox 360 gamepad is widely regarded as one of the best gaming controllers ever created, so it’s not surprising that Microsoft didn’t make many changes while designing the Xbox One gamepad. Microsoft spent $100 million designing the Xbox One controller, believe it or not, in an effort to improve it on nearly every level. Everything from the analogue stick rubber to the sensitivity of the triggers was handled, however a sizable chunk of that $100 million was spent on outlandish ideas that never made it to the final cut, such as a cartridge that could release odors and a built-in projector.
Resident Evil 4 Was Almost an Xb0x Exclusive
During the GameCube era, the Resident Evil franchise was a Nintendo exclusive for a short time, although Capcom’s survival horror series came close to being released on the Xbox instead. In truth, Microsoft met with Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, in an attempt to acquire Resident Evil 4 as an Xbox exclusive. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the meeting was a disaster because Mikami stumped the representatives of Xbox co-creator Kevin Bachus with a question.
Mikami questioned the staff about what games meant to them in terms of artistic expression, ostensibly to compare the company’s perspective to those of competitors Sony and Nintendo. Because Microsoft’s representatives were unprepared for such a question, and because they were speaking with Mikami through a translator, the Resident Evil director was reportedly unsatisfied with their response and rose up, bowed, and fled the meeting. Despite the fact that Bachus was a staunch believer in games being much more than just entertainment, Mikami chose to work for Nintendo instead.
Microsoft Tried to Partner with Sony
Microsoft considered partnering with a business that would later become one of its largest rivals, Sony, before entering the console industry with its own internally created hardware. Bill Gates was in talks with Sony CEO Noboyuki Idei to include Microsoft technology in the PlayStation 2. Similar to how Sony tried to partner with Nintendo to release a split disc/cartridge add-on for the Super Nintendo before launching the PlayStation, Bill Gates was in talks with Sony CEO Noboyuki Idei to include Microsoft technology in the PlayStation 2. Idei declined the offer, and Gates is said to have taken it personally. Recognizing the PS2 as a major threat to PC gaming, Gates instead invested extensively in Xbox, ostensibly as a form of retaliation against Sony.
Microsoft Lost $4 Billion On the Original Xbox
Most businesses would be insane to enter a highly competitive, expensive market dominated by Sony and Nintendo, but Microsoft was better prepared than most to endure some early losses when it launched its first video game console in 2001. It’s a good thing Microsoft had large funds, too, because the Xbox brand is reported to have lost $4 billion between 2001 and 2005. Much of this can be related to the fact that the PlayStation 2 dominated the market at the time, but it can also be attributed to the fact that Microsoft lost $125 on every Xbox sold, as the console cost $425 to produce but was sold for $299.
The 360 Red Ring of Death Cost Microsoft Over $1 Billion
The last one in the list of weird facts about Xbox history is this one. The Xbox 360’s infamous “red ring of death” was a very real PR disaster for Microsoft and its sophomore system long before it became a classic gaming cliché. Several consoles were affected by the problem during the 360’s first few years on the market, rendering them utterly useless.
Microsoft upped the Xbox 360’s manufacturer warranty from one to three years in an effort to discourage users from abandoning the console outright, a decision that cost the company more than $1 billion. Fortunately for all parties involved, the Xbox One is widely regarded as a lot more trustworthy piece of equipment.
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