The Microsoft XBOX was the PC software powerhouse's original stab at creating a dent in the home console market. For a first-timer, while not the success of the original PlayStation, commercially speaking; it started a Western love-affair with an all new brand. The XBOX is important in many ways, picking up where the Dreamcast left off. While not SEGA itself, the XBOX was very much a spiritual successor to the console that has many gamers still dreaming.
Released in late 2001 in the US, followed by releases in Japan and Europe in early 2002, the XBOX quickly gained attention for its (at the time) unparalleled graphical capabilities (excl. PC). Unlike the Dreamcast and Gamecube, it had DVD playback with use of a peripheral (simply, a remote and dongle). It also allowed the entire world to play together with the introduction of the highly successful, subscription-based Xbox Live.
XBL built on the ground works of what SEGA had started and took it to its next logical step. The progression of online play with home consoles can largely be attributed to this, with the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube equivalents being mostly misused and/or underutilised by their respective creators.
In terms of design, the thing was a tank. Even its original controller, nicknamed 'Duke'; was large and cumbersome for most. A controller in itself, which was an obvious spin on that of the Dreamcast's.
The relationship of Microsoft and SEGA is a highly interesting one. One could argue Microsoft's initial teasing toward the home console market can be seen in the Dreamcast, with its built-in Windows CE compatibility. But it doesn't end there. There was even talk of the XBOX originally being able to play Dreamcast titles, out-of-the-box. For many a reason found elsewhere, this didn't happen. But the legacy remains.
But, what about the games? Continuing the SEGA trend, the XBOX gained a handful of exclusive sequels to SEGA IP's. The incredible Jet Set Radio Future, Crazy Taxi 3, House of the Dead 3 and the long-awaited third Toe-Jam & Earl game. But Microsoft also managed to forge its own originals. The underrated Blinx series, Project Gotham Racing (a spiritual successor of MSR) and most importantly: Halo.
There is barely a media-aware person on the planet, let alone gamer; who is unaware of the Halo franchise. Starting with Halo CE, Master Chief quickly became the unofficial mascot of the XBOX. With that, came a massive marketing campaign that led to Halo 2 (at-the-time) being the fastest selling exclusive of all time. A mascot and a killerapp in one title. I see what you did there, XBOX!
Many may argue the XBOX's existence was merely a series of knee-jerk reactions. Sony wanted to kill the PC and this is how Microsoft responded. Microsoft wanted to find a middle-ground for Windows games to keep developers and gamers in general happy...This, again; a considered response. But whatever you feel, its undeniable that what the brand is/was/continues to be is a furthering of Bill Gates' initial dream. A computer being the centre of the home. The XBOX was the first step in the Xbox-brand evolution to fulfil said dream.
The XBOX was the first American console since the Atari Jaguar and a huge commercial and critical success in its 6-year cycle. From exclusives to superior ports; the XBOX proved that the East weren't the only ones able to succeed in the contemporary video games market. It defined the way we play today.
Being the newest player in the game the original Xbox console is the only entry for Microsoft here at RetroGameGeeks as it's next gen successor the XBOX 360 being a revelation of its own yet still chugging along and the XBOX ONE still fresh in the game...
The team here love the Xbox brand, it gave us such memorable characters as Master Chief, obscure exclusives like Blinx and Voodoo vince and for one of the team in particular gave the world Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic 1&2 but more importantly when developers tried the Xbox showed how much more poweful it was than it's rivals the PS2 and the Gamecube with multi format titles, Black and Burnout 3 being stand out examples. It's legacy will be that of not inventing a new way of gaming but taking several great ideas and making them work properly, online gaming wasnt new for consoles but Xbox made it an essential standard for every single other console released afterwards.