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The Xbox Story, Part 4: Launching and Beyond

Friday, 5 August 2011 07:08 GMT By Patrick Garratt

The name was decided and the hardware shown: but what of the games? Patrick Garratt looks at the original Xbox’s launch line-up and the console’s release in the final part of our four-feature special.

The US Xbox launch titles – November 15, 2001

Halo: Combat Evolved

Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee

Dead or Alive 3

Project Gotham Racing

NFL Fever 2002

Air Force Delta Storm

Mad Dash Racing

Cel Damage

Arctic Thunder

Fuzion Frenzy

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X

4×4 Evo 2

Hit this for the previous installment, “The Xbox Story, Part 3: Facing the Public”.

Xbox was now locked into a launch time-frame. Slated to ship in late 2001, the machine had been pushed back a year at Bill Gates’ command to ensure there was a discernible difference between Microsoft’s effort and PlayStation 2, and the race was well and truly joined to form a suitable launch line-up in a cripplingly short window.

“For me, the challenge was that I only had a couple of years to pull together a set of console games,” said Ed Fries, the Microsoft executive in charge of creating Xbox’s first-party launch output.

“My group had never made a console game. We’d never produced a console game. We were developing for a machine that didn’t exist, and we had to convince developers that Microsoft was actually going to do this thing, that the machine was going to ship and that it was actually going to sell in sufficient quantities.”

Ever the understated, Fries noted that these were “hard” discussions. It was Fries’s job to gather and create exclusive content for Xbox’s launch. Triple-A developers don’t make money unless their game sells in large quantities: Fries was asking for exclusive videogames for a platform that wasn’t available, had no track record and would only be running at half speed six months before launch. How could it be trusted to sell tens of millions of units?

Fries did have one trump: he worked for Microsoft.

“I had a good bizdev team, and they were out talking to a lot of people, and I was out talking to a lot of people, and we found opportunities here and there,” he said.

“Bizarre Creations was a good example. They’d completed Metropolis Street Racer for Dreamcast, which was, in our opinion, a great game. We thought that it could easily be moved onto the new platform and modified in time to be a launch title for us. That’s where Project Gotham Racing came from. That’s an example of something that was relatively easy to do.”

Oddworld’s Lorne Lanning was also quick to get on board: Munch’s Oddysee was a launch title, and was the first ever game shown running on Xbox, played by Seamus Blackley at CES in January, 2001.

“That was a big one for us,” said Fries. “To take what was, at that time, a very high profile Sony developer, a Sony product, and to have it as a launch title on our new console; that was a really important one.”

Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo: Combat Evolved emerged as Xbox’s
defining game, but Microsoft saw it as part
of a portfolio, not a leading title. Said Fries:
“It’s easy to try to modify history, to look
back and say, ‘It was all about Halo.’ But
that really didn’t develop until a little bit
later.”

“You are a cybernetic warrior. In the future.”

In May, 2001, at E3 in LA, Microsoft officially announced Xbox’s launch details: it would release in the US on November 8 for $299. Between 600,000-800,000 units would be available day one, with the number rising to 1.5 million before the end of the calendar year.

While the news was good, the E3 presentation was not. After a failed attempt to show an updated version of the GDC 2000 ping pong ball demo, Robbie Bach introduced a wooden showing from a clearly terrified Joe Staten from Bungie. Halo itself looked fantastic to those of us sitting in the audience, but Staten began the viewing with the immortal words: “You are a cybernetic warrior. In the future.”

It creased us up: we should have been looking at the game, and instead we were laughing about the delivery.

Halo itself became a focal point of the criticism aimed at Microsoft at E3 that year. It was running at a practically unplayable speed on pre-launch hardware on Microsoft’s booth at the show. Many believed that neither the game or console would be ready for November based on the shooter’s showing that year.

Microsoft had bought Bungie in June, 2000, confirming Halo – which was previously being developed for PC and Mac – as an Xbox exclusive. While hindsight is a wonderful thing, Microsoft had no idea at the time just how important Halo would be for Xbox.

“Even at the end, it was ‘a’ title for us: it wasn’t ‘the’ title for us,” said Fries. “We had Munch’s Oddysee from Oddworld, and we thought that was a really important title. That was something we had TV behind, along with Halo. We had TV behind our football game, and some behind Project Gotham Racing as well. So, there were a whole set of games that were treated as our big titles for launch.

“It’s easy to try to modify history, to look back and say, ‘It was all about Halo.’ But that really didn’t develop until a little bit later. Halo was the one that everybody was playing at night. It was the one that we really loved to demo. When I was out on the road in the months leading up to launch, I was showing a lot of Halo, just because it looked awesome. It really showed off the machine.

“To go to a floor in a games shop that I’d been to a dozen times and see Xbox displays and banners there, and big giant billboards around Akihabara, for me, I think, was the most breathtaking moment.”

“But when I talked to the press, it was really the one that had a lot of controversy associated with it. Coming out of E3, there was a lot of skepticism about the game. It surprised me how much there was. Next Generation, which was the really influential magazine here in the US, had some pretty mediocre things to say about it coming out of E3.

“And some of it was right: at E3 we were running on half-speed hardware. The game wasn’t done. But, those of us that were familiar with it could see what it was going to be, I guess.”

Bach also announced at E3 that year that 200 third-parties were making Xbox games. There were some 80 Xbox exclusives in the works, Bach said, 40 of which would be made by third-parties. Bach added that 27 online titles were in development for the machine.

EA said it was making 10 Xbox games, and showed Westwood’s Pirates of Skull Cove – it wasn’t great. Sega also committed to Xbox, now Dreamcast had officially failed – the console had been brutally discontinued in March, 2001, thanks to funding issues.

A Dead or Alive 3 demo was technically great. The Munch’s Oddysee showing was just old.

It was at this point that Kevin Bachus left Microsoft. The reasons cited in Opening the Xbox are that his wasn’t finding his job enjoyable any more and wanted to get back into making games: he took a job at Wild Tangent, and would later move onto the ill-fated Phantom project. He’s currently chief product officer at Bebo.

The AI’s terrible

And while Microsoft fumbled Xbox’s public perception that year, things weren’t always going to plan behind the scenes. Microsoft had a large investment in Steven Spielberg’s AI. It was announced in August 2001 that two AI games would release as launch titles that November, with a third game to follow.

The US launch in New York. The Rock and Bill
Gates both turned up.

“Let’s just say it didn’t work out,” laughed Fries. “The movie didn’t work out very well, and the games didn’t work out very well.”

None of the games released.

Fries, though, was undeterred by all these set-backs. He’s an idealist. His logic in constructing the console’s initial line-up was borne from one basic premise.

“It starts from me being a gamer,” he said. “What would I like? What do I want to play? Who are the people I want to work with? For me, it was working with the very best game development teams I could find, the best talent I could find, and just giving them the resources that they needed to do their best work. That was my strategy.

“What would you do, right? If you had the resources, the money to go out and work with anybody in the world, what would you do? You’d go and talk to all the people you were really excited about, the people who you have respect for. And what you find is that they’re almost all busy doing something else: they’re great guys, and they’d love to work with you, but they’re all busy.

“That’s when you have to get opportunistic.”

Fries wasn’t only active in the west before launch. He was already spending a lot of time in Japan, and some of the feedback he was getting wasn’t always as helpful as it could have been.

“It was hard to know what to listen to,” he said.

“Deathbox”

“They told us that we couldn’t call it Xbox, because ‘X’ means ‘death’ in Japan. They said we can’t make it black, because black is the colour of death. Deathbox, you know?

“And I’m like, ‘Isn’t the PlayStation black?’ I remember a meeting where a developer told me the controller needed to have the same weight as water in the hands. Which could be good feedback. I don’t know. You’d get all this feedback translated to you, and it wasn’t always easy to know who to believe, or what was important.”

While Fries crunched on the first-party line-up, Allard and the rest of the team were pushing for third-party software.

“We had to go out and convince publishers that we were serious about getting into the games business, and that we could compete effectively with Sony,” said Bachus.

The UK launch

The British Xbox launch took place at the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street, London. Richard Branson was in attendance, as was game-loving celebrity Jonathan Ross and a fresh-faced Chris Lewis. Lewis now heads up the European Xbox business.

Dreamcast’s demise formed an opportunity. As developers turned away from Dreamcast, some diverted their projects towards Xbox: had Microsoft not been in the market, they would have had no choice but to turn to PlayStation.

It wasn’t only western development that was immediately interested. Despite the common perception that Xbox was initially laughed out of Japan, several of the large Japanese games firms were involved from the start. Tecmo, for instance, released a launch title in Dead or Alive 3. Sega Japan was also there from day one with Jet Set Radio Future.

“I think a lot of the Japanese companies got on board because they thought that we’d be successful with Xbox 2 even if we weren’t successful with Xbox,” said Bachus. “They wanted to say, ‘Listen, we were there with you during the difficult phase with Xbox, so you can show us some consideration with the next console.’

“Remember that Microsoft has this reputation that it takes three times to get it right, and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to get it right there first time, but they were like, ‘You know, you’ll probably get it right eventually.’”

Fries, Xbox’s first-party games boss, was removed from the third-party side of the project to an almost complete extent.

“I was so busy with the first-party portfolio at that time that I almost didn’t even see the third-party stuff. I was at TGS that spring, and I was mostly cooped up in a hotel room doing interviews across from the hall, and people were talking about Dead or Alive. I hadn’t seen it. I had to go over to the show to see it, because so many people were bringing it up to me and saying, ‘Wow, that really looked great.’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it? I’d better go look at it.’”

While this sounds absurd, Fries and Allard were actually in competition over their respective Xbox software programs. Fries assumed control of both third- and first-party content after Xbox launched, but pre-release Allard worked separately.

“In a way, the first-party team is a competitor of the third-party teams, in that we all come out with games,” Fries said.

B-roll from Microsoft’s E3 2001 press
conference, showing Robbie Bach
trash-talking Sony’s PS2 launch, Peter Moore
joking about “getting out of the hardware
business,” Halo, Dead or Alive 3, Munch’s
Oddysee, NASCAR Heat and more.

“For example, I was producing a football game, and so was EA. When I later took over managing the third-parties, I had to do it really carefully because of that issue. It’s kind of sensitive. I’m out meeting with third-parties and they’re showing me what they’re doing, but to some extent they know I’m making competing products.”

Fries not only had to cope with ludicrous time constraints and in-team competition: the spectre of mistrust dogged the project even now.

“It was sort of like stepping back to those early days again when we entered the console world. We had to prove ourselves all over again. I think it was doubly hard, because we came from a PC world; in a lot of ways we saw the PC world as being more advanced than the console world, and when I say that, I mean the PC world had become about multiplayer and online. In the console world that still really wasn’t very true. There were attempts to do that on things like Dreamcast, and some even before that, but it wasn’t an important part of the console world.

“So not only were we trying to enter the console world and have credibility, but we were also trying to say to the console world people, ‘Hey, your world is going to change.’ When we showed something like the first Halo, a lot of the reaction from the console people was, ‘Wow: you really don’t get console games.’”

A brown shooter like Halo was baffling to the console section of the games industry, and it wasn’t just an external struggle.

“Someone in the group, I can’t remember where, had done what they called a colour palette analysis, and they’d showed that console games used these bright, cartoony colours, and Halo was using these dark, PC-like colours. They were trying to tell me that we were doing it all wrong, that we weren’t consolely enough. I just remember kicking him out of my office and not ever presenting my analysis to the Bungie people,” Fries said.

“Someone had done what they called a colour palette analysis, and they’d showed that console games used these bright, cartoony colours, and Halo was using these dark, PC-like colours. They were trying to tell me that we were doing it all wrong, that we weren’t consolely enough. I just remember kicking him out of my office and not ever presenting my analysis to the Bungie people.”

“It was the kind of thing that was happening then. It’s funny, because we were learning a lot, and we clearly didn’t know what we were doing going into it, but at the same time we knew a lot about the PC world and we had opinions about where we thought gaming was going. The challenge was choosing which instincts to believe, and which ones to modify as we got new data.”

We are go for launch

Eventually, though, all the wrangling came off. Xbox launched in the US with Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, PGR, NFL Fever 2002 and Blitz Studio’s Fuzion Frenzy as its first-party line-up. Europeans got Rallisport Challenge and Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding instead of the football title.

The American launch was delayed a week to November 15 because of production issues, but the New York release party was spectacular nonetheless. Gates himself turned up, as did The Rock, and “the kids” were as enthusiastic as kids could ever be. Halo and Munch’s Oddysee starred as software, and while Japan and Europe would have to wait until the following year for their launches, fact was fact: Xbox was now a real games console with real, exclusive games.

The British launch took place on March 14, 2002, in the Virgin Megastore on London’s Oxford Street. From what I drunkenly recall, it was rammed, with a packed bar downstairs distracting from photocalls and demos on the shop’s main floor near the tills. Richard Branson and Jonathan Ross were the star turns, and the UK launch team – made of the likes of Chris Lewis, Paul Fox, Nick Grange and Tina Hicks (now Moore) – was clearly thrilled with the result.

There was certainly no lack of interest. Xbox’s Japanese launch took place a few weeks before, on February 22.

Manufacturer Flextronics opened two plants,
one in Guadalajara, Mexico, and one in
Hungary, to produce the Xbox launch units,
as detailed in this promo movie.

It was only two-and-a-half years since Ted Hase had first sent out a PowerPoint presentation suggesting Microsoft make a videogames machine, but it had been a long road for those involved. While he’d already left Microsoft at this point, seeing the affect Xbox had on global entertainment wasn’t lost on Bachus.

He said: “It was really bizarre when Xbox first launched. For such a long time, it was this thing we were doing in secret. First there were four of us, and then there were maybe 20, 30. I remember going into a room with people from Microsoft licensing, which handles OEM licenses and stuff like that, and these guys had been responsible for thinking about how they were going to authenticate Xbox software, make sure that it wasn’t pirated. There were 100 people in the room I’d never met before, and these guys had been thinking about our little project. It was really weird to see how all these people came together and contributed to what we were trying to do.

“It was weird when I’d be out and I’d see people wearing hats with the Xbox logo on them. Even weirder, was that I’d been going to Japan since I joined Microsoft, and I just went and hung out in Akihabra and went to these different software shops; to go to a floor in a games shop that I’d been to a dozen times and see Xbox displays and banners there, and big giant billboards around Akihabara, for me, I think, was the most breathtaking moment.

“I still had this idea in my head that it was this little concept that we were working away on in secret, and the fact that it became a big part of popular culture is obvious intellectually, but emotionally it was overwhelming. It was really cool.”

One step beyond

While Xbox’s launch draws this story to a close, it was the public birth of a console that had already changed videogaming’s landscape forever. There were still major hurdles to overcome, one of the first of which being the original “fat” controller. There was a problem: a lot of people didn’t like it.

Microsoft’s switch to Controller S from the
original, large pad came initially from
negative Japanese feedback. The new
design was so popular the company made
the change worldwide in 2002.

It was unthinkable that Sony or Nintendo would simply drop a console controller in favour of something “better,” but Microsoft did just that. This was more than a move based on usability: the biggest gripe Japanese gamers consistently came back with about Xbox was the size of the controller. It was too big.

“We came from the PC world,” said Fries. “That original controller was designed by the hardware group, and they had a very similar PC controller that was reasonably successful called the Sidewinder.

“It wasn’t a big stretch. Also, if you look at the Dreamcast controller at the time, it was also relatively large. Even an N64 controller; it’s got a bunch of gaps in it, but, again, it’s a pretty large thing. I didn’t think it was as controversial as it ended up being. I wasn’t one of the people saying this was a big problem.

“We got strong feedback out of Japan that this controller wasn’t going to work. As soon as that happened, they started designing a new controller: that’s the controller that ended up replacing the big controller in the US.

“It was designed originally for Japan, and everyone loved it and said, ‘We should just make the the universal controller for the rest of the world.’”

The EU Xbox launch titles – March 14, 2002

Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding

Batman Vengeance

Blood Wake

Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2

Dead or Alive 3

Fuzion Frenzy

Halo: Combat Evolved

Jet Set Radio Future

Mad Dash Racing

Max Payne

NBA Live 2002

NHL 2002

NHL Hitz 2002

Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee

Project Gotham Racing

RalliSport Challenge

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

TransWorld Surf

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions

While tweaks were being made to the hardware formula, the software deals were still being cut. Fries himself will probably be best remembered in the Xbox project for his involvement in the Rare deal. Microsoft bought Rare in 2002 for $375 million, an eyebrow-raising figure which resulted from a bidding war with Activision.

“As we moved on from launch, I was working with the Epic guys to put together Gears of War, and I was working with the Rare guys,” he said.

“I met the Stamper brothers initially when we were starting up Xbox. The games business is actually a pretty small community. If I met people and got to know them, who knows what’ll happen in the future?

“Bungie was like that. I met a guy called Peter Tamte, got to know him and we stayed in touch. He’s the guy that called me originally and said, ‘Hey, things aren’t really working out here at Bungie as an indepedent company. We’re thinking about selling, and as long as we’re talking about that, we thought that maybe we should be talking to you too. That was the start of the conversation that ultimately turned into us buying Halo.

“Likewise, I met the Stamper brothers. At the time, I thought they were 100 percent committed to being part of Nintendo, and didn’t really know if it would go anywhere, but I was honestly a fan of their games. Being a gamer myself, it’s always fun to meet your heroes from the games business. We had a nice meeting, and agreed that if there was ever an opportunity to work together we should talk.”

A few years later, that opportunity arose. Rare’s contract with Nintendo was expiring. Nintendo, owning just under half of Rare, had an option to buy the remaining shares. It had already declined to do so once, and it seemed clear it would again.

“We were very interested,” said Fries. “It had the double benefits of adding a new, very experienced developer to our portfolio, of who’s games I was a big fan, and simultaneously taking them away from a competitor. That was very valuable to us.”

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Activision was also heavily involved in the bidding process, causing the price to inflate.

“Activision actually outbid us, and then they couldn’t close the deal,” Fries said. “We’d put a bid in over Activision, but we thought it was too late: they’d already agreed to go with Activision. When the Activision bid collapsed, our bid got to go through. It was a pretty close thing that it didn’t go to Activision, actually.”

Rare’s output surprised many in the wake of the deal. Fries was guarded on his feelings on the matter.

“It’s hard to comment on,” he said. “I’ve always been a big fan of Rare. I’m still a fan of Rare. I certainly had higher hopes in the beginning than where we ended up. But who’s to blame for that? I don’t know. Whenever you create a new relationship there’s new people on both sides, and new requests. They had to learn a new system, and the world of gaming was changing at the same time. I talked about the way Halo differed from console games at the time: Rare represented more that older world than the newer world.

Ed Fries was instrumental in the Microsoft
deal to buy Rare in 2002. The Stamper
brothers sold their 51 percent holding in
the company to Microsoft, after which
Nintendo followed with its 49 percent.
Microsoft paid $375 million for complete
control of the British developer.

“Although, to their credit, they were the creators of GoldenEye, the game that proved you could do a first-person shooter on a console, and that was something we pointed to a lot when we were pushing Halo.”

Microsoft bought Rare for $375 million, buying both the Stamper brothers’ stake and the Nintendo shares to take complete control of the company. Fries insisted, though, that taking developers over, as it had with Rare and Bungie, was never the original intention.

“We didn’t set out to buy people. It wasn’t our opening position. We were happy to work with people as third-parties. It was only in cases that we needed to do an acquisition that we did it. The only opportunity to work with Rare was to buy the company. The only opportunity to work with Bungie was to buy the company.”

Fries left Microsoft in 2004, a year before the launch of Xbox 360. The original Xbox sold over 24 million units globally and acted as a springboard for Microsoft to build a successful console ecosystem in opposition to Sony. It’s unquestionable that Xbox’s story is an extraordinary one.

In his forward to Dean Takahashi’s Opening the Xbox, released in 2002, Seamus Blackley wrote:

“It is a rare and remarkable experience indeed to be able to take part from the very beginning in something that touches so many people, that inspires and excites the imaginations of so many people, and that in the end changes the lives of so many people as Xbox has.”

Xbox was decommissioned in 2005 in Japan, and in 2006 in the US and Europe. Its Live support ended on April 15, 2010.

The Xbox Story: parts one, two, three and four.

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34 Comments

  1. manamana

    Achievement unlocked, Patrick! You did an awesome job with “The Xbox Story”. Thank you very much for this!

    Btw. They should’ve bought Bizarre Creations….
    Edit: and what a nice Launchlist – see that nintendo?!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    *standing ovation*

    #2 4 years ago
  3. OlderGamer

    Very good piece. I enjoyed it a great deal. Thanks for doing something meaningful and worth reading, its a nice change of pace from the drivel that plagues most game sites.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Mike

    Simply stunning. Nice one.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. G1GAHURTZ

    A fascinating insight into the worlds of console development in general, and Microsoft in detail, Pat.

    It really puts a ‘human’ face on a corporation that sometimes struggles to do so on it’s own. (sorry Major, just my opinion.)

    I think I’ll have a different take on the next Xbox launch having read this. Let’s see if it really does take Microsoft three times to get it right.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Lounds

    I remember when Splitercell was xbox only then Sony paid ubisoft a shit load and got it licence for ps2, thing is everyone forget SONY/playstation has more connections with Software developers than M$ and Nintendo put together.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    Thanks all! Really glad you liked it.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Lounds

    @Pat

    Yeah was really good read, read it every morning at work :)

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Blerk

    Excellent work throughout, Patrick. Bravo!

    I’d love to see features like this on the Dreamcast, PS2 and/or Gamecube. Although I seriously doubt Nintendo would ever talk as candidly about one of their machines.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Bi50N

    Fascinating stuff.

    What’s incredible, given the history, is that the original Xbox had (in Europe at least) the best launch line-up of any console before or since.

    Halo, PGR, Dead or Alive 3, Jet Set Radio Future, Rallisport and Amped… has anyone ever done better?

    #10 4 years ago
  11. barchetta

    Cracking read Pat, thanks very much for the effort you put into it. Succeeded in making me late for work too!

    Funny, but in a industry that often feels like a constant arms race of visual improvement and is desperate to ‘keep on moving on’ there is a rich tapestry of history that is often skimmed over or left behind completely.

    I love such articles which not only give me chance to reminisce but, when done well, like these, add to my understanding of what went on and thus why things are the way they stand now.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    *applauds*

    @1 Yes, they definitely should have bought bizarre :(

    #12 4 years ago
  13. RandomTiger

    Very interesting, cant believe they pulled it all together so quickly.
    As much as MS has been annoying me recently with focus on things I dont care about this article is a reminder of why its so good they are in the console space.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. mojo

    excellent article, all 4 of them!
    realy enjoyed reading!

    #14 4 years ago
  15. viralshag

    Great article, great read and great job.

    I remember when I bought my Xbox at launch. I was so happy, so happy in fact, that I ended up having to get a cab home because it was just too damn heavy to carry.

    The S controller too, what a great move. I didn’t “hate” the starship controller but the smaller one was just such a great move in the right direction. I still prefer the Xbox controller over the PS pad.

    It’s also the only console I have actually stubbed my toe on and it genuinely hurt. I still have mine, somewhere, I think… I love that giant box of gaming goodness. If my Playstation 2 had legs, it probably would have run away due to complete neglect.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Blerk

    In retrospect I wish I’d bought one of these to accompany my PS2 instead of a Gamecube.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. viralshag

    @ Blerk,

    Fable, Halo, KOTOR and Jade Empire are some of the great games that stick out to me in my memory. So yeah, you missed out! :P

    #17 4 years ago
  18. OlderGamer

    @Blerk

    Hell, I bought a PS2 just to accompany my Xbox. I really enjoyed the Gamecube too tho. But like Viralshag, my PS2 pretty much just sat there.

    I bought Xbox Live the month it launched. I got Mechassult, and once I played that online I pretty much stoped playing everything else. I loved the fact that there was so much to play online. Other systems just couldn’t hold a candle to that.

    The irony, I guess, is that now, I rarely play online. Too many kids and too many elite players that suck all of the fun out for me.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Erthazus

    Xbox is still not there where they want it to be.

    Really the most known brands and the most successfull in this business are Sony and Nintendo for now.
    Xbox 360 is very known in US, but thats about it while other two are popular in US, EU and JP. Everything else depends on their systems, games library and price.

    I remember XBOX 1 launch, i didn’t cared much at all because my PC had so many amazing games that no one gived an F about it, same goes with the Gamecube, but i really wanted new Zelda game.
    I had PS2 for some console exclusives, but games like GTA and a lot of other games i played on the PC because the looked 10 times better, played better and etc.

    PC at that time shined among every console combined in everything.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. viralshag

    @ 18, I know what you mean with regards to, well let’s call it as it is, dickheads online. But you should try to not let it impede on your gaming if you enjoy playing online. I get the same grievances and as much as it saddens me to “give in” a bit; I just turn off my mic, mute a lot of people and get on with playing the game.

    And you’re right, nothing could compare to Live at the time. On consoles at least.

    @19, Xbox, PS2, 360, PS3 > Any PC on the face of the planet.

    Why? Because I can.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. G1GAHURTZ

    I sold my PS1 during my uni years to buy a 15″ CRT monitor so that I could continue to do my degree work without having to rely on the uni labs, where only about 2 of every 20 workstations weren’t super slow.

    I kept my N64, though, as whooping my friends at Perfect Dark and Mario Tennis was always a relaxing break after spending 10-15 hours a day trying to animate in a frequently crashing 3DS Max 3.

    After finishing uni and getting my first job in the games industry, I got a PS2, but didn’t play it too much. Gran Turismo 3 and FIFA were about all that got played iirc.

    I remember on the gaming mailing list where I worked, one of the lead artists would send loads of xbox screenshots with a constant stream of comments about how it was sooooo vastly superior to the PS2. It’s probably that experience that made me begin to dislike the xbox, for some reason.

    At that time, even though I only had a PS2 and an old N64, I still considered myself a ‘Nintendo person’, so getting an xbox was not even a consideration.

    A few months later, having given my N64 away and gotten bored of 007: Agent Under Fire on the PS2, I got a Gamecube, for Mario Sunshine and the upcoming Wind Waker, both of which were amazingly underwhelming.

    It was then that my company got bought out by another one, which gave staff a free console every two years.

    As I already had a PS2 and a Gamecube, I had little choice but to get an Xbox that I really didn’t want, but had no intention of turning down.

    Even though I never went online with it, I ended up playing it more than the other two consoles.

    Halo CE/2, many versions of FIFA, Midnight Club 2 and many more.

    Even though I really wanted it to be the Gamecube, my Xbox ended up being my favourite console of that generation.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Erthazus

    @20, because you are a fanboy.. Schwing!

    #22 4 years ago
  23. Len

    Great set of articles, really readable.

    Still got my original copy of Halo on the ‘fav games ever’ shelf at home. Happy days… :)

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Kuwabara

    Patrick you should write a article how the xbox did shit all for the games industry, but rip people off and offer few first party exclusives, and cheap design, red rings, and poor sales tactics ( 4 gig version). If there were no xbox, playstation and sony would be stronger, the consumer would be better off with with more exclusives to the system, especially sony would have benefited. And with all that extra money instead of going to microsoft would mean more investing into more games. Yeah there was xbox live, so what. A gaming console is about GAMES, not social features and media, party chat, kinect! sony and nintendo already had hardcore and casual gamers catered for. To me xbox 360 is a failure. It hasnt got a strong first party lineup and it cant keep most of its 3rd party exclusives. They should give up with their consoles, they can never match sony or nintendo’s list of game offerings. The mentality behind microsoft is not on the same level. They ‘ll milk 2 or 3 franchises and rely on multiplat, cater to the casuals and social media aspects of live, rather than give the GAMER great unique exclusives, every year. This is why sony playstation will always reign.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Blerk

    Competition is good. Without competition we all lose.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Psychotext

    Nice job Pat. :)

    #26 4 years ago
  27. Telepathic.Geometry

    Finally finished reading this epic. Cheers Pat. Respekit.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. Telepathic.Geometry

    @Kuwabara: Are you serious?

    #28 4 years ago
  29. Kuwabara

    Yeah im serious. i feel sorry for every idiot that choses a xbox over a ps3, who considers themselves serious gamers.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. Anders

    Fantastic work, Pat. I hope you find the time to write more articles in the same vein.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. JackTheLittle

    @kuwabara
    i’m agree with you.the way microsoft approachs gaming industry ruin it eventually.they made a market which there is no space for a valuable game because of more money!
    look at how many people bought an xbox just to play COD.its a shame!not hard to say its the way of american industery!
    now developers think how to make another crappy game and advertise it to just sell more.they just wanted the money from the start and off course influence!

    #31 4 years ago
  32. Wulfer

    Awesome job Pat; first time poster, ignore the sour patch gang.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. VTurk

    great read i would love to see one on xbox 360.

    #33 4 years ago
  34. BartonFink

    Great set of articles Pat. Some fascinating insights.
    The thoughts of both Gates and Ballmer shouting at you for hours before finally approving the project. /shudders

    #34 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    The PlayStation 4 version of Project CARS has been shown in 1080p 60fps. The video below is captured by racing game enthusiasts Team VVV from a preview build. You can see different racing disciplines being demonstrated here, on different circuits. The game’s impressive visuals get even better when the weather gets worse.

  • Battle Pod is the Star Wars arcade game you’ve waited your whole life for

    Star Wars: Battle Pod is an arcade game that lets you replay the battles of the original trilogy, and features an incredible cockpit. If you’ve never played a game at an arcade before, Star Wars: Battle Pod will definitely be the one to change your mind. It’s an arcade cabinet out of a classic Star […]

  • CoD Exo Zombies: how to unlock the Ride of the Valkyries Easter egg

    To no one’s surprise, Exo Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has some Easter eggs. The first Exo Zombies Easter egg, of surely many more to come, has been discovered. It’s a musical one that involves Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. How you unlock it is not as convoluted as you might […]

  • Dying Light is sub-1080p on Xbox One, full 1080p on PS4 – report

    Early analysis of Dying Light on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has revealed a few technical details about both ports. Digital Foundry has produced some analysis of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports of Dying Light based on some early testing. Both versions manage a solid 30 frames-per-second, only dipping below that in […]

  • Battlefield 4 Second Assault DLC free to all EA Access members

    EA is offering Battlefield 4′s Second Assault expansion free to anyone with an active EA Access subscription. Anyone with an active subscription to EA Access can download the Second Assault expansion pack for Battlefield 4 starting January 29 and through February 28, free of charge. All you need to do is find it on the […]

  • The Witcher 3 is getting optimised, but no visual downgrade

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is in the final stages of development and developer CD Projekt RED is making sure optimisation work doesn’t impact the game’s visuals. The Witcher 3 art producer, Michal Stec, spoke to Eternity in an interview and was asked whether the team will downgrade the visuals to get better performance. “No. […]

  • Can’t download Dying Light on PS4? Here’s a fix

    If you’ve bought Dying Light on PS4 and you’re having trouble downloading it, you’re not alone. Here’s how to beat the bug. Techland’s Dying Light is stumbling out of the blocks a little this week, with many PS4 users experiencing problems with their full-game downloads. A bug’s to blame. Your console thinks you’ve already installed […]

  • What The Witcher 3 owes to Skyrim – and how it surpasses it

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt owes more than a nod to Bethesda’s Skyrim. I went to see The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and had a great time. I went in a fan of the books but not very experienced with the first two games. I came out with The Witcher 3 top of my gaming […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online has great monsters

    Dragon’s Dogma Online looks pretty rad – an undesirable quality in a game unlikely to come west, from our perspective. The first Dragon’s Dogma trailer was released this afternoon; admire its beauty below. The free to play online RPG was announced for PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4 overnight, but Capcom doesn’t intend to bring it […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X map about five times the size of last game’s

    Xenoblade Chronicles X is not a small game. This week’s Famitsu has a feature on Xenoblade Chronicles X giving some details on Monolith Soft’s next RPG and first Wii U game. According to Siliconera‘s translation of reports on the feature, the game’s map is about five times the size of that in Xenoblade Chronicles. The […]

  • Take on Mars expected to hit beta in April

    Take on Mars, the space sim from Bohemia Interactive will soon be reader for wider consumption. According to a new Take on Mars development roadmap, the sim will go into beta at the start of April, with full release expected in June. The project is currently available via Steam early Access, but between now and […]

  • Can you guess the next Mortal Kombat X character reveal from this fatality audio clip?

    Mortal Kombat X will have at least one very liquid-sounding fatality. NetherRealm is revealing Mortal Kombat X’s cats one character at a time, and has promised a new reveal during a community Twitch stream tomorrow. It also provided the following teaser video – it’s audio only, and apparently taken from a fatality sequence. What’s your […]

  • Nintendo Creators Program now recruiting YouTubers – PewDiePie, others weigh-in

    Nintendo has opened a Creators Program designed to ensure creators get a slice of ad revenue from videos featuring Nintendo assets, and some prominent YouTubers aren’t pleased with the company. Update “What Nintendo are missing out on completely is the free exposure and publicity that they get from YouTube,” wrote Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) on his […]

  • Xbox Live issues under investigation

    Can’t sign into Xbox Live? Microsoft is on the case. Xbox 360 and Xbox One users report being unable to sign in to Xbox Live. Microsoft is already aware of and working on the problem. “Our team is hard at work right now trying to get this resolved. Thank you for staying patient while we […]

  • Make money from your non-Valve mods with Steam Workshop

    Valve has opened the money-making side of Steam Workshop to third-party titles, giving enterprising modders more ways to make money. Steam now hosts curated Workshops for Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, the first non-Valve games to support the scheme. What that means is that community members can create, vote on and eventually even […]

  • Check out DmC: Devil May Cry’s new manual lock-on

    DmC: Devil may Cry developer Ninja Theory has released a video showing off the new, controversial lock-on mode. The new manual lock-on is causing quite a stir, although its reception is probably better than the white-wigged Dante who makes fans even more upset than the original makeover. “The primary purpose of this video is to […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes looks pretty fun

    Dragon Quest Heroes is yet another Omega Force take on an existing property – like Hyrule Warriors or the One Piece games. And it looks pretty sweet. We haven’t heard much from Dragon Quest Heroes here in the west because it hasn’t been confirmed for release outside Japan. This isn’t terribly surprising as we still […]

  • Square Enix to reveal new PS4 game this weekend

    Square Enix is doing something pretty mysterious right now. The Final Fantasy publisher is teasing something called Project Code Z. The project, which Square Enix is tweeting about in Japanese, English and German, is due for reveal at Tokaigi 2015 on Saturday. It’s a PS4 game, but that’s all we know. There’s a website you […]

  • Tetris has crowned its first known western Grand Master

    Tetris fans have a new western champion. Tetris is one of those gaming obsessions that goes much deeper than you might expect. For example, did you know that some versions of the game assess your performance and over you the chance to become a “grand master”? Turns out that’s a thing, and according to Polygon […]

  • Ken Levine’s next game teased as “sci-fi-ish” small, open-world RPG

    A series of tweets from BioShock creator Ken Levine has shed a sliver of light upon his next project. According to Levine he and his team are considering something a bit sci-fi and contemplating first-person mode. The team is developing the game for PC with a large in scope, expandable, systems-based narrative where more can […]

  • Become a lynx in new Shelter 2 trailer

    Shelter 2 casts players in the role of a lynx, which makes for quite a different experience to the badger of the first game. The first Shelter game had you evading predators, but in the second, you becomes one yourself. That doesn’t mean there are no dangers to face, of course. Judging by the trailer […]

  • Why King of Fighters 13 isn’t coming back to Evo

    Evo, the premiere western fighting game tournament, has dropped support for a few previously favoured titles. King of Fighters 13 had a loyal following, but isn’t featured in the Evo 2015 line-up. “Many things go into what games makes it to Evo, but the most obvious one is, ‘Is the community playing this game?’” Evo […]