Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Happy Birthday XBOX (UK Birthday)



15 years ago on this very day the 14th of March 2017, the original Xbox was released in the UK. Now I am not going to bullshit and claim that I was there cuing for the machine on its very day of release, the only machine I got near its release that generation was the gamecube (I didnt even preorder that or get it the day of release, I got it a few days latter), I did however love the machine once I got one.

So what was the first game I played on my Xbox when I got it, well it was Halo of course. Whatever you think of the Halo franchise the original was simply put a system seller. It was a very impressive game for its time and it marks a very good early console business decision by microsoft. Originally Halo Was set to be an apple Mac Exclusive. Now Mac owners dont always have that good a time when it comes to games, not that many end up being made to work on the system and even fewer have been made exclusivly for it but a title called Marathon was proberbly one of the biggest highlights game wise for Mac owners, this was made by Bungie, at one stage Steve Jobs announced that Bungies next game Halo would be a Mac Exclusive and it was looking darn impressive. Microsoft needed a good looking strong game for their Xbox launch lineup and so what did Microsofts Bill Gates do? Well he simply bought Bungie outright thus claiming Halo both the game and the intellectual property and had it rebuilt to be an Xbox exclusive. I doubt Microsofts gaming division would be where it is now without Halo but they didnt just buy an impressive game that people would feel they need, oh no they advertised the hell out of the machine. The original advertising campaign for the Xbox was pretty darn crazy, it went by the name 'Champagne' it was a TV add in which you saw a woman in an emergency room delivering a baby. The child shoots out of her like a cork from a champagne bottle (hence the name) and flies into the, traveling rapidly and ageing at an alarming rate. By the end of the advert the small child has become an old man and you get to witness himcrashing into an open grave, this then cuts to a black screen which shows the words ‘Life is short. Play more.’

The ad was a little shocking and was in fact banned after airing for three months due to complaints from viewers to the Independent Television Commission. I think though that by then it had done what it set out to do. People talked about the advert which then often transitioned into people talking about the console and about Halo which drove sales. The machine didnt turn out to be the greatest selling console of all time or anything in fact it basically got its ass handed to it by the PS2 but importantly it managed to go toe to toe with Nintendo selling a very simmilar number of units, which for a company new to the console market is very impressive, sure Sony might have been even more impressive with its first console the Playstation crushing both Sega and Nintendo but Microsoft had certainly built a firm foundation upon which they could and have built.


There are a million stories I could tell you about the Xbox, about all of its possible names, some great games which came to the system or about how brilliant a hacked one can be, seriously a lot of things that we take for granted now that a console can do home entertainment wise the original Xbox was doing years ago with a little gentle nudge from chippers and home coders, ultimatly though I just want to end this here by saying Happy Birthday Xbox.

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