Ten years ago Microsoft embarked on an ambitious venture to marry the worlds of the internet and console gaming.
And it’s no exaggeration to say that the seeds it planted have gone on to transform the world of gaming.
What began as a 56K modem on Sega’s (and let’s not forget, also to some extent Microsoft’s) Dreamcast was truly realised with Xbox. And how Xbox Live has evolved. Starting out as a way to standardise online play, the network has gone on to become one of the world’s most active and lucrative commercial hubs and is the de facto standard when it comes to online console functionality.
Here’s a look at its road to glory:
November 2002: Xbox Live, a service allowing gamers to access a range of digital media and play against each other online, is made available on the Xbox.
December 2004: The Xbox Live Arcade service is launched on the Xbox game console in a disc form available in bundles, on its own and in several issues of Official Xbox Magazine.
November 2005: XBLA relaunched on the Xbox 360 as a service integrated into the system’s main dashboard.
March 2006: Three million downloads made on XBLA.
January 2007: 20 million downloads made on XBLA.
March 2007: Uno becomes the first XBLA title to pass one million downloads.
November 2007: The Xbox Live Arcade Hits range is introduced. These are certain Xbox Live Arcade titles that become permanently discounted in price.
November 2007: Xbox Live Arcade celebrates a North American milestone with the release of Screwjumper, the service’s 100th title.
December 2007: Microsoft launches the Video Store in the UK, over a year after it debuted in the US, allowing consumers to rent and stream movies direct from the Live Arcade
May 2008: The XBLA file size limit increases to 350MB, marking the service’s transition from providing bite size casual games to catering for more expansive, mainstream titles.
July 2008: The first of the now annual XBLA Summer of Arcade. This saw anyone who downloaded one of the titles released during August entered into a prize draw to win 100,000 Microsoft points, a 12 Month Xbox Live Gold subscription and a 360 Elite console.
August 2009: A system update introduces the Games on Demand area of the Marketplace, allowing players to purchase full, (formerly) boxed games digitally for the first time.
February 2010: Marc Whitten announces Xbox Live has the 23 million-member mark.
April 2010: Microsoft ends Xbox Live support on the original console.
November 2010: Alongside the launch of the Kinect, Xbox Live touches down in Russia, Poland, South Africa, Greece, Hungry, Brazil, Columbia, Chile and the Czech Republic.
December 2011: Microsoft launches the official Xbox Live app.
March 2012: BBC iPlayer launches on Xbox Live
May 2012: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition breaks all XBLA sales records by notching more than 400,000 sales in 24 hours.
September 2012: The 2GB Livae Arcade limit raises to an unannounced number with the release of Red Johnson’s Chronicles (2.68GB) and Double Dragon (2.24GB).
November 2012: Happy Birthday Xbox Live!