On January 6, 2001, Bill Gates unveiled an imposing black box adorned with a green X. It is Microsoft’s first console.
It was at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that Bill Gates took the stage with … Dwayne Johnson to unveil the Xbox game console. The imposing and heavy black rectangle took two years to emerge and no less than 2,000 people participated in its design. At the time, the fact that Microsoft wanted to get into this market was quite shocking. Indeed, the company is known, certainly for games … but for PC, (like its famous “Flight Simulator), as well as for its utility software.
A gaming computer …
It was during a Microsoft executive meeting that the idea was first launched by Rick Thompson. Interviewed by Bloomberg, he recalls that “Sony decided at the time to show what the future looked like. It was a house without a PC. Sony was showing three or four PlayStation consoles in each residence … but no computers. “
This is when several Microsoft teams set to work to imagine the best gaming console possible. Because, according to Kevin Bachus, one of the project’s leaders, “the basic idea for the Xbox, which we called the Windows Entertainment Platform at the time, was really that of a device derived from a PC.” Moreover, at that time, a joker had nicknamed the project “Coffin Box” (literally “the coffin box”) so much the teams were afraid of making a mistake.
But developers quickly realize that recycling Windows is not enough. Exit therefore the idea of the PC and welcome to that of a “real” console behind which Bill Gates puts all his weight. But now we have to make sure we have games. The decline of Sega consoles gave Microsoft the idea to approach Electronic Arts (EA) and the company showed interest because of the technological capabilities of the Xbox. EA is not the only one.
“My team’s mission was to create the best fighting game in the world, and we needed the Xbox to make it happen. The Xbox was four to six times more powerful than the PS2, ”recalls Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of the“ Dead or Alive ”franchise.
For a few months, Microsoft also approached EA to buy the company, Square Enix, Midway Games … as well as Nintendo, which refused! By chance, Microsoft stumbled upon Bungie, an independent developer working on “Halo”, a first-person shooter … that Steve Jobs presented at Macworld in 1999. Nobody believes in the concept of a “shooter” for console, not even the Microsoft teams in Japan. But the American team does not listen to anyone and decides to make “Halo” the launch game.
During the last year of development of the console, the team decided to integrate an internet connection, a revolutionary idea at the time since even MySpace does not exist! The machine remains huge, black, with a green X on it. The controller is considered too large, but development is not concerned with aesthetic aspects, deciding to bet on the power of the console.
As Peter Moore (former Sega of America boss, president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment division and then president of EA) points out, “We called her the Incredible Hulk because she was big and green.”
On November 15, 2001, the Xbox went on sale in stores and it was a rush. Ed Fries, director of games, points out that “the day after the launch of the console, it was clear that ‘Halo’ was going to be a success. The game showed that the Xbox is not a PlayStation clone, but that we are opening up a whole new market, which is somewhere between Mario and a gaming PC. “
- Xbox: over 24 million
- Xbox 360: over 84 million
- Xbox One: approximately 46.9 million
The waste of useful time of the week
“Halo: The Master Chief Collection”
It is also now on Steam that the famous Master Chief evolves. Sold for PC, the collection includes six games (also available in French) to relive the glorious epic of number 117 while waiting for the new opus of the saga, scheduled for the fall.
PS: Note that fans of “Fortnite” can don the armor of Master Chief and even fight in a “map” resembling that of “Blood Gulch”.