Ten years ago today, on 14th March 2002, the XBox brand came to the UK, announcing a new wave of gaming for the masses and taking a grip on the market that only a handful of other consoles have managed in the same time. To celebrate, the XBox team have put together a pretty nifty timeline charting the evolution of the brand, which you can see here
. Happy British Birthday, XBox. There isn't likely to be a better day to talk about the ten key moments from the history of Xbox (you might have actually noticed a hashtag on Twitter today proclaiming #xboxis10), so here goes...
10. The Kinect
The newest peripheral addition to the XBox family has already shipped a frankly astonishing 18 million sensors so far, and it is still to reach anything like its in-game potential. This year, and the release of games like Fable: The Journey which will integrate Kinect gameplay more deeply, rather than presenting it as a gimmick like the majority of Kinect games so far, will see more of that potential released though. And for all the complaints that hardcore gamers won't be concerned about it, the Kinect is a phenomenal piece of kit, and there's nothing quite like being able to play a game without a controller for the first time.
9. XBox Live Arcade
Launched in 2004, the Arcade remains the single best download marketplace: as of last week there have been 470 games released through it, including a small amount of completely free titles, as well as a raft of additional DLC. The prices are normally reasonable, and those that aren't are cunningly hidden by the MS Points mechanic that is rumoured to be completely on its way out sooner rather than later. The greatest achievement of the Arcade is that it made downloading game content the norm for XBox gamers, as opposed to an inconvenience that would have outraged the first generation of gamers. But if it wasn't for XBLA, we wouldn't have outstanding games like this... http://youtu.be/mX48y24t9iU
8. More Than Gaming
Recently the XBox has gone through something of a development with the relaunch of Live, and it's many new bells and whistles, including entertainment apps. It's a shame that the Indie Games marketplace has been kicked aside somewhat unceremoniously as a result (after years of neglect anyway), but the development of the console as an all-in-one media hub probably tells us a lot about what we can expect for the future of gaming, and the explicit relationship with other forms of entertainment.
The game that really made me fall in love with the XBox, Fable was a revelation on release in September 2004, developed by a massive team and featuring decision and morality based gaming. It remains the first franchise I look out for news of, and the upcoming Fable: The Journey quickly went to the top of my most wanted of 2012 list, no matter how many disappointments came with Fable 3. If it wasn't for Fable, we wouldn't have Mass Effect. Probably. http://youtu.be/XJ7w0EdPOzg
6. The 360
The greatest console of all time? Well, that particular question would likely inspire vociferous debate, as it always does, but the console was certainly a major high-point whichever way you look at it. Yes the decision not to go for an HD disc player was a frustration (and one of the only reasons some gamers own a PS3 as well as a 360), but the launch of Microsoft's next generation console kicked off the war between its creator and Sony in a far more tangible way than ever before, and that could only ever be a good thing for the marketplace.
5. Gears of War
If Halo was the game of the XBox original console, then the Gears of War franchise has arguably been the flagship of the 360, featuring some of the most iconically designed characters and game-play, with a gruff, muscular exterior hiding a slick, easily digestible, but surprisingly deep gameplay. It also boasts one of the finest adverts ever, and certainly the best use of music in one... http://youtu.be/M-2AjBSxU88
4. XBox Live Arrives
Way before anyone was really invested in tweeting about their dinner or One Direction, or taking emo-slant photos for their Myspace profiles, XBox introduced XBox Live, the online gaming community that predated and predicted social networking in a way that always seems to get over-looked. The reason no-one has ever come up with a wide-spread, commercial social networking site dedicated to gaming? It was unveiled at E3 in 2002 with XBox Live.
3. Halo Combat Evolved
It might not have anything like the relevance these days - though of course Halo 4 will try and sway that when it arrives later this year - but back in 2000, when it was unveiled at E3, Halo CE was a major, major thing. XBox exclusive titles continue to infuriate those who haven't invested in a 360 with their quality and execution, but it was Halo which started the trend way back in the beginning: we'd seen nothing like it before, and for the first two (maybe three) games at least, it continued to be XBox's flagship property. http://youtu.be/dR3Hm8scbEw
2. 66 Million & Counting
Sixty six million. That's a big number. That's almost as many times as Friends has been shown on British TV. And it's also how many XBox 360's have been sold, a fantastically large number - especially considering the console shipped without the ability to play HD movies, in contrast to PS3's blu-ray compatibility. Certainly not something to be sniffed at.
1. The Controversial Welcome
Sometimes adverts leave a lasting impression with the populus for the right reasons - like white horses charging for Guinness, or rubbish robots laughing for Smash - but there are others that leave a more essential imprint, telling you everything you need to know about a brand in a few short minutes. XBox's much maligned first advert, which was unsurprisingly banned, did just that, announcing a whole new world of fuck-you cool to a generation of gamers who hadn't yet taken to their thrones to lose way too much of their lives killing people that didn't really exist. And that "Life is Short - Play More" strapline is one of the most understated, brilliant marketing lines in history. For me, the advert screamed "buy an XBox", so I did. See if it still has the same effect now: http://youtu.be/t6zgQH3tUKk And here's to many more...