Ten years ago today, Microsoft’s first games console was put to the mercy of the market. Built under enormous time constraints and creaking from the weight of hype during its production, the future of the Xbox was never certain.
After all, only a handful of console manufacturers have survived Nintendo and Sony’s space. The pressure is such that new consoles quickly find themselves in the same pit as Jaguar, Dreamcast and Neo-Geo if just a couple of business meetings go the wrong way.
If Xbox’s endurance isn’t impressive enough, the extent of its success is bedazzling. It stands shoulder-to- shoulder with PlayStation in terms of global sales and has stridently attacked Nintendo’s casual stronghold.
These commercial triumphs would not be possible without the creative drive from game developers around the world. Develop speaks to a number of studio bosses and creative heads, from established studios to new arrivals, to pay tribute to Microsoft’s prolific box.
[See also: INSIDE STORY - THE BIRTH OF XBOX]
"Eleven years ago when Microsoft came to Lionhead and revealed plans for Xbox, their driving ambition was to create a new kind of console – one that didn’t only play games but which was also about entertainment. We were so impressed that we switched a substantial amount of Lionhead’s development to the Xbox platform. Starting with the original Xbox, Microsoft started a revolution which, via Xbox 360, the advent of Xbox Live and Kinect, still continues today. Happy 10th Anniversary Xbox."
-Peter Molyneux, Co-founder, Lionhead
"We signed on for Xbox in a big way and Microsoft didn't let us down. They've done a particularly good job with Xbox Live which pioneered online gaming for consoles in a way nobody could have predicted but now seems so natural and obvious. Congratulations to all the fine folks who have worked on Xbox for a great 10 years - here's to the next 10 years!"
-Mark Rein, Vice President, Epic Games
"Microsoft has done what they’ve said they would do. They promised they’d come to the games industry as a dominant player, and they have done. Looking at how they’ve achieved that, they’ve brought a lot of new ideas to the business. Look at Kinect, look at Xbox Live, look at the Marketplace. The system has affected us in a very positive way – it’s been great."
-David Braben, Founder, Frontier Developments
"I think the place they've been most influential on our studio has been the way they have embraced digital download. The more you are connected to this online "hive-mind", the better and more instant your user experience will get. Happy tenth anniversary Xbox!"
-Dino Patti, Founder, Playdead
"Xbox has made multiplayer on consoles work and is easily one of the best entertainments in front of the tv :D"
-Daniel Kaplan, Business Developer, Mojang
"The Xbox has grown the hardcore console market, which was so important to us. It has expanded our world as a games developer, and it’s interesting how the feud between Xbox and PlayStation has taken a different direction with both trying to expand their business. The best thing was Xbox Live though, that was and is the future of games."
-Niels Jorgensen, General Manager, Io Interactive
"For me and for the creation doublesix it was the launch of XBLA with Geometry Wars and similar cool games that made me rush off, grab a bunch of people and get building games “like they used to do (ish)”.
XBLA is not a free-for-all, nor is it a totally closed platform, but has been an outlet for creativity and innovation that was very hard to find on main stream devices, certainly console. As someone who started when games could be made and published from a bedroom, then went through many years where that was effectively eradicated, it was great to see “old school” games back, it certainly influenced our approach to the making of Burn Zombie Burn, and our upcoming game, All Zombies Must Die!
I know XBLA has had, and still has quite an influence over the building digital distribution industry and may it keep going from strength to strength."
-James Brooksby, Founder, Doublesix
“Microsoft? Making a video games console?
Nope, wasn’t convinced. I loved my PS2. Stick to Windows, fellas. So I got on with the PS2 game I was developing at the time, dodgy toolchain and all. But two years later I was at Lionhead working on Fable, an Xbox exclusive, and never looked back.
That console and its successor have been where I placed my fanboi chips ever since – not to mention my career. The graphics are better, developing is easier, the online services are brilliantly designed and built on world-class infrastructure, our digital games marketplace is better, the player experience is better, the joypad (at least at its second attempt, no longer visible from orbit) is a classic.
The extent to which the Xbox dash has been transformed and extended through the cloud is still unmatched; and when it comes to motion control gaming, we can say that our move has been innovative and successful. I clutter up an otherwise world-class team at Xbox making it a great place for publishers, developers and retailers to do business. I believe other consoles are available, but none worth speaking of. Happy birthday, Master Chief – and happy birthday, Xbox. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.