Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. It represents a series of video game consoles developed by Microsoft, with three consoles released in the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations, respectively. The brand also represents applications, streaming services, an online service by the name of Xbox Live, and the development arm by the name of Xbox Game Studios. The brand was first introduced in the United States in November 2001, with the launch of the original Xbox console.
The original device was the first video game console offered by an American company after the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996. It reached over 24 million units sold as of May 2006. Microsoft's second console, the Xbox 360, was released in 2005 and has sold 84 million units as of June 2014. The Xbox One has been released in 21 markets in total, with a Chinese release in September 2014. The head of Xbox is Phil Spencer, who succeeded former head Marc Whitten in late March 2014.
First generation: XboxThe original Xbox was released on November 15, 2001, in North America, February 22, 2002, in Japan, and March 14, 2002, in Australia and Europe. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market. As part of the sixth-generation of gaming, the Xbox competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast, and Nintendo's GameCube. The Xbox was the first console offered by an American company after the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996. The name Xbox was derived from a contraction of DirectX Box, a reference to Microsoft's graphics API, DirectX.
The integrated Xbox Live service launched in November 2002 allowed players to play games online with or without a broadband connection. It first competed with Dreamcast's online service but later primarily competed with PlayStation 2's online service. Although these two are free while Xbox Live required a subscription, as well as broadband-only connection which was not completely adopted yet, Xbox Live was a success due to better servers, features such as a buddy list, and milestone titles like Halo 2 released in November 2004, which is the best-selling Xbox video game and was by far the most popular online game for the system.
Second generation: Xbox 360The Xbox 360 was released as the successor of the original Xbox in November 2005, competing with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. As of June 30, 2013, 78.2 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold worldwide. The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The console sold out completely upon release in all regions except in Japan. Several retail configurations of the core Xbox 360 model were offered over its lifetime, varying the amount of RAM and internal storage offered.
The Xbox 360 showed an expanded Xbox Live service, the ability to stream multimedia content from PCs, while later updates added the ability to purchase and stream music, television programs, and films through the Xbox Music and Xbox Video services, along with access to third-party content services through third-party media streaming applications. Microsoft also released Kinect, a motion control system for the Xbox 360 which uses an advanced sensor system.
Two major revisions of the Xbox 360 were released following the initial launch. The Xbox 360 S, launched in 2010, featured the same core hardware but with a redesigned, slimmer form factor with a smaller-sized 250 GB hard drive. It also added integrated 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, TOSLINK S/PDIF optical audio output, five USB 2.0 ports and special port designed for the Kinect peripheral. The Xbox 360 S replaced the base Xbox 360 unit, which was discontinued, and sold at the same price. A cheaper Xbox 360 S unit, removing the 250 GB drive while adding 4 GB of internal store, was released later in 2010; the unit allowed users to hook up an external storage solution or purchase a 250 GB internal add-on.
The second major revision of the Xbox 360 was the Xbox 360 E, released in 2013. It featured a case style similar to the upcoming Xbox One, and eliminated one USB port and the S/PDIF, YPbPr component and S-video connections, but otherwise shared the same specifications as the Xbox 360 S.
Third generation: Xbox OneThe Xbox One was released on November 22, 2013, in North America, as the successor of the Xbox 360. The Xbox One competes with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch as part of the eighth generation of video game consoles.
Announced on May 21, 2013, the Xbox One has an emphasis on internet-based features, including the ability to record and stream gameplay, and the ability to integrate with a set-top box to watch cable or satellite TV through the console with an enhanced guide interface and Kinect-based voice control.
Following its unveiling, the Xbox One proved controversial for its original digital rights management and privacy practices; while Microsoft touted the ability for users to access their library of games on any Xbox One console without needing their discs, and the ability to share their entire library with 10 designated "family" members, all games would have to be tied to the user's Xbox Live account and their Xbox One console, and the console would be required to connect to the Internet on a periodic basis to synchronize the library, or else the console would be unable to play any games at all. After an overwhelmingly negative response from critics and consumers, Microsoft announced that these restrictions would be dropped. Microsoft was also criticized for requiring the Xbox One to have its updated Kinect peripheral plugged in to function, which critics and privacy advocates believed could be used as a surveillance device. As a gesture toward showing a commitment to user privacy, Microsoft decided to allow the console to function without Kinect.
On June 13, 2016, Microsoft announced the Xbox One S at E3 2016, which featured a smaller form factor, as well as support for 4K video and HDR. At E3 2017, Microsoft unveiled Xbox One X, a high-end model with improved hardware designed to facilitate the playing of games at 4K resolution.
Fourth generation: Xbox Series XDuring The Game Awards 2019, Microsoft officially unveiled Xbox Series X—a new Xbox model to be released in late 2020. The console is estimated to be four times as powerful as Xbox One X, with support for 8K resolution, real-time ray-tracing, and 120 frames-per-second rendering. Xbox Series X is stated to be backwards compatible with all games and accessories currently compatible with Xbox One. In addition, there are no immediate plans for first-party games to be exclusive to the new console over Xbox One. Following the unveiling, a Microsoft spokesperson stated that Xbox Series X constituted an entry in a fourth generation of Xbox hardware, which will be branded simply as "Xbox" with no subtitle. Prior to the E3 reveal, it had been speculated that Microsoft was developing two next-generation Xbox consoles codenamed "Anaconda" and "Lockhart", which were high-end and low-end models respectively. Microsoft has focused solely on a high-end product in its current marketing.
ComparisonThe following table is a comparison of the first three generations of Xbox hardware.
FutureMicrosoft has been recently working to leverage the branding of "Xbox" beyond the console hardware but as a general video game brand, reflected in the renaming of Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios in 2019. Phil Spencer had stated in June 2019 that for Microsoft, "The business isn’t how many consoles you sell. The business is how many players are playing the games that they buy, how they play." which journalists have taken as a route to de-emphasize console hardware and prioritize games, subscriptions and services for players. Later in February 2020, Spencer said that moving forward, the company does not see "traditional gaming companies" like Nintendo and Sony as their competitors but instead those that offer cloud computing services such as Amazon and Google. Spencer identified that Microsoft Azure is a major component of their plans going forward, which powers its xCloud game streaming service. Spencer also cited mobile gaming as a potential area, and where Microsoft was trying to position itself with its services should this become the more preferred form for gaming. Spencer said "I don't think it's 'hardware agnostic' as much as it's 'where you want to play'", in describing how Microsoft was strategizing the Xbox branding for the future.
GamesEach console has a variety of games. Most games released on the original Xbox are backwards compatible and can be played directly on its successor, Xbox 360. Backward compatibility with Xbox 360 titles was added to Xbox One in June 2015, although titles requiring Kinect or USB peripherals will not be supported.
Xbox Liveis an online service with over 65 million users worldwide. It comprises an online virtual market, the Xbox Live Marketplace, which allows the purchase and download of games and various forms of multimedia. Online gaming on the Xbox first started on November 15, 2002 worldwide. The service is still active and continues to be played by gamers.
Xbox Live MarketplaceThe Xbox Live Marketplace is a virtual market designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console that allows Xbox Live members to download purchased or promotional content. The service offers movie and game trailers, Video Store, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, Xbox Live Indie Games, Games on Demand, downloadable content such as map packs, gamer pictures, and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes.
The August 11, 2009 update added Xbox 360 games for download, the Avatar Marketplace, and renamed Community Games to Indie Games.
The Spring 2007 update to the Xbox 360 Dashboard relocated the Marketplace to its own "blade" in order to bring more attention to the service and make it more accessible to users. Although this has been obsoleted by the NXE update, the section has been implemented into three separate sections in the Dashboard: the Game Marketplace, Video & Music Marketplace, and Avatar Marketplace.
Downloaded content requires enough space on either the Xbox 360's hard drive, or an Xbox 360 Memory Unit. Selected downloads are placed in a queue and are downloaded whilst the console is powered on and is connected to Xbox Live. Users can choose to send certain downloads to the front of the queue to be downloaded first. Downloads are temporarily halted during certain times where games make use of Xbox Live's features.
Xbox SmartGlassXbox SmartGlass is a companion application for Xbox 360 available for Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, and Windows Server 2012. It was announced by Microsoft during E3 2012 and released on October 26, 2012, coinciding with the release of Windows 8. It connects with the Xbox 360 and allows more interactive entertainment, allowing mobile devices to potentially serve as second screens and remote controller. Currently Windows 8 and Windows RT Tablets and PCs, Windows Phone iOS devices, and Android smartphones are compatible with SmartGlass, providing information such as Halo 4 stats and Forza Horizon GPS. Users of Windows Server 2012 can currently download the application from the Windows Store after installing the Windows Desktop Experience feature in the Server Manager.
xCloudxCloud is the working title of Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming streaming service.
Content filterIn 2019, Microsoft released a content filtering to stop swearing and toxicity in online gaming. The service enable players to report messages, Gamertags, photos, and any other toxic content on its platform.subscription service from Microsoft for use with its Xbox One and Windows 10. Described as "Netflix for video games", the Xbox Game Pass grants users access to a catalog of games from a range of publishers for a single monthly subscription price. The service was launched on June 1, 2017.
Xbox 360 DashboardThe Xbox 360's original graphical user interface was the Xbox 360 Dashboard; a tabbed interface that featured five "Blades", and was designed by AKQA and Audiobrain. It could be launched automatically when the console booted without a disc in it, or when the disc tray was ejected, but the user had the option to select what the console does if a game is in the tray on start up, or if inserted when already on. A simplified version of it was also accessible at any time via the Xbox Guide button on the gamepad. This simplified version showed the user's gamercard, Xbox Live messages and friends list. It also allowed for personal and music settings, in addition to voice or video chats, or returning to the Xbox Dashboard from the game.
Xbox One Dashboard
Xbox Family Settings AppIn May 2020, Xbox presented a preview version of an app that allows parents and guardians to set daily limits for their children's playing time, provides weekly activity reports, filters out age-restricted games, and places limits on online communication. This is the attempt of Microsoft, Xbox's owner, to promote a message of responsible gaming. The full release is expected in the end of 2020 or later.
Xbox ControllerReleased in 2001, the Xbox control pad was the first controller made for the original Xbox. The Xbox controller features two analog sticks, a pressure-sensitive directional pad, two analog triggers, a Back button, a Start button, two accessory slots and six 8-bit analog action buttons. The standard Xbox controller was originally the controller bundled with Xbox systems for all territories except Japan.
Xbox 360 ControllerReleased in 2005, the Xbox 360 controller for the Xbox 360 succeeded its predecessor. A standard Xbox 360 controller features eleven digital buttons, two analog triggers, two analog sticks and a digital D-pad. The right face of the controller features four digital action buttons; a green "A" button, red "B" button, blue "X" button and yellow "Y" button. The lower right houses the right analog stick, in lower left is a digital D-pad and on the left face is the left analog stick. Both analog sticks can also be "clicked in" to activate a digital button beneath. In the center of the controller face are digital "Start", "Back" and "Guide" buttons. The "Guide" button is labelled with the Xbox logo, and is used to turn on the console/controller and to access the guide menu. It is also surrounded by the "ring of light", which indicates the controller number, as well as flashing when connecting and to provide notifications. The left and right "shoulders" each feature a digital shoulder button, or "bumper", and an analog trigger.
Xbox 360 KinectKinect is a motion sensing input device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game console and Windows PCs. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands. The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360's audience beyond its typical gamer base. Kinect competes with the Wii Remote Plus and PlayStation Move with PlayStation Eye motion controllers for the Wii and PlayStation 3 home consoles, respectively. A version for Windows was released on February 1, 2012.
Kinect was launched in North America on November 4, 2010, in Europe on November 10, 2010, in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore on November 18, 2010, and in Japan on November 20, 2010. Purchase options for the sensor peripheral include a bundle with the game Kinect Adventures and console bundles with either a 4 GB or 250 GB Xbox 360 console and Kinect Adventures.
The Kinect claimed the Guinness World Record of being the "fastest selling consumer electronics device" after selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days. 24 million units of the Kinect sensor had been shipped as of January 2012.
Microsoft released Kinect software development kit for Windows 7 on June 16, 2011. This SDK was meant to allow developers to write Kinecting apps in C++/CLI, C#, or Visual Basic.NET.
Additional information on the Xbox One Kinect was released on June 6, 2013, including information on how to turn off the "always on" feature.