Former Xbox boss Ed Fries has said the original Xbox console was met with a bit of hostility in Japan.
Speaking with Develop, the way Fries relays the brick wall Microsoft hit in Japan with its new console, it’s a wonder it was even released over there at all. Thankfully, the design team make the controller smaller for the region, and instead of the console being colored black, it had more of smokey tint.
“The first Xbox controller was built internally at Microsoft’s gaming peripheral group, who at the time had made things like the SideWinder joystick,” he said. “They had a controller they made for PC gaming, so they took on the job and we didn’t pay that much attention to what they were doing.
“Honestly, when the first controller came out, our group didn’t give a lot of feedback on it. We didn’t have a lot of experience on controllers anyway, so we didn’t have an issue with the prototype. But when I went to Japan to show the console, man, they really had a problem with it. I was told a number of crazy things, like the controller should weigh the same as water in your hands.
“We heard all kind of negative things from Japan, like we couldn’t use the name Xbox because ‘X’ means death, and the console couldn’t be black, because that also was the color of death. The first Xbox consoles we released in Japan weren’t black, in fact, they were a smokey color – but I was always thinking to myself, ‘hang on, isn’t the PS2 black?!’
“But in the end, it made sense that we’d make a smaller controller for Japan because, yeah sure, it was just way too big for their hands. That’s where the ‘S’ controller came from. Problem was that when people internally started playing with the ‘S’ controller, everyone preferred it to the massive one – but it was too late by then, we were set for launch.”
Fries goes on to chat about changing the name of the console from DirectX Box to just Xbox – much to the chagrin of the marketing team who didn’t want ‘X’ anywhere in the name – and how the whole look of the console changed from literally an ‘X’ to the massive brick we all have sitting in our media closets now.
It’s a rather good read. Get the full thing through the link up top.
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