On March 14, 2002, the original Xbox released in Europe and Australia. Customers outside of the United States and Japan had to wait another few months to get their hands on the device which was also touted as the most powerful console at the time. Games like Halo 2—which also became the original console’s best-selling title—put the brand in a position to compete with gaming giants like Nintendo and Sony. The original Xbox even went on to surpass Nintendo GameCube sales by a couple of million units. Microsoft delayed sales of the original Xbox in Europe and Australia to focus on the Japanese market. What’s surprising is that despite that, sales of the original Xbox were better in Europe and Australia than Japan.
Development of the original Xbox began in 1998 when the team working on DirectX graphics technology took some old laptops and constructed a prototype device. At the time the PlayStation 2 was stealing focus from Windows when it came to game development and the team hoped to curtail their advances in the industry. Seamus Blackley and other engineers took the idea to Ed Fries who was in charge of Microsoft’s games. He realized the potential of the device and decided to back the DirectX Box’s production. While the name of the console was shortened to just Xbox, the internals were game-changing for the time.
Bill Gates unveiled the console with The Rock in January at CES 2001 and it went on sale in November the same year in North America. The original Xbox launched with games like Halo: Combat Evolved which proved to be its biggest selling point because it provided first-person shooters worked on consoles. Despite releasing 15 years ago, the original Xbox is still considering a technological breakthrough. Not only did it provide developers with the tools to craft more immersive experiences, Microsoft also gave us beloved games like Phantom Dust and Voodoo Vince with gamers still crave to this day.
Here’s wishing the original Xbox—and the Xbox brand—a very happy birthday from its European and Australian customers! May the brand’s success carry on with Project Scorpio which is in a similar position to what the original Xbox witnessed all those years ago. Hopefully, Microsoft will choose to take more risks when it comes to games and provide us with new and interesting experiences like they did when the first console came out. We’ll just have to wait until E3 2017 to find out what the company has up its sleeve.