Xbox
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Xbox

Xbox
Xbox logo (2019).svg
Product typeVideo gaming
OwnerMicrosoft
CountryMicrosoft Redmond Campus, Redmond, Washington, United States
IntroducedNovember 15, 2001; 18 years ago (2001-11-15)
MarketsWorldwide
Registered as a trademark inWorldwide
Websitewww.xbox.com

Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. It represents a series of video game consoles developed by Microsoft, with three consoles released in the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations, respectively. The brand also represents applications (games), streaming services, an online service by the name of Xbox Live, and the development arm by the name of Xbox Game Studios. The brand was first introduced in the United States in November 2001, with the launch of the original Xbox console.

The original device was the first video game console offered by an American company after the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996. It reached over 24 million units sold as of May 2006.[1] Microsoft's second console, the Xbox 360, was released in 2005 and has sold 84 million units as of June 2014. The Xbox One has been released in 21 markets in total, with a Chinese release in September 2014. The head of Xbox is Phil Spencer, who succeeded former head Marc Whitten in late March 2014.[2][3]

Consoles

First generation: Xbox

Xbox console with "Controller S"

The original Xbox was released on November 15, 2001, in North America, February 22, 2002, in Japan, and March 14, 2002, in Australia and Europe. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market. As part of the sixth-generation of gaming, the Xbox competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast (which stopped American sales before the Xbox went on sale), and Nintendo's GameCube. The Xbox was the first console offered by an American company after the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996. The name Xbox was derived from a contraction of DirectX Box, a reference to Microsoft's graphics API, DirectX.[4][5]

The integrated Xbox Live service launched in November 2002 allowed players to play games online with or without a broadband connection.[6] It first competed with Dreamcast's online service but later primarily competed with PlayStation 2's online service. Although these two are free while Xbox Live required a subscription, as well as broadband-only connection which was not completely adopted yet, Xbox Live was a success due to better servers, features such as a buddy list, and milestone titles like Halo 2 released in November 2004, which is the best-selling Xbox video game and was by far the most popular online game for the system.

Second generation: Xbox 360

Xbox 360 Elite, Right: Xbox 360 S and new-style controller

The Xbox 360 was released as the successor of the original Xbox in November 2005, competing with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. As of June 30, 2013, 78.2 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold worldwide.[7] The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The console sold out completely upon release in all regions except in Japan.[8][9][10] Several retail configurations of the core Xbox 360 model were offered over its lifetime, varying the amount of RAM and internal storage offered.

The Xbox 360 showed an expanded Xbox Live service (which now included a limited "Free" tier called Silver), the ability to stream multimedia content from PCs, while later updates added the ability to purchase and stream music, television programs, and films through the Xbox Music and Xbox Video services, along with access to third-party content services through third-party media streaming applications. Microsoft also released Kinect, a motion control system for the Xbox 360 which uses an advanced sensor system.

Two major revisions of the Xbox 360 were released following the initial launch. The Xbox 360 S (typically considered as "Slim"), launched in 2010, featured the same core hardware but with a redesigned, slimmer form factor with a smaller-sized 250 GB hard drive. It also added integrated 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, TOSLINK S/PDIF optical audio output, five USB 2.0 ports (compared to the three from older versions) and special port designed for the Kinect peripheral. The Xbox 360 S replaced the base Xbox 360 unit, which was discontinued, and sold at the same price.[11][12][13] A cheaper Xbox 360 S unit, removing the 250 GB drive while adding 4 GB of internal store, was released later in 2010; the unit allowed users to hook up an external storage solution or purchase a 250 GB internal add-on.

The second major revision of the Xbox 360 was the Xbox 360 E, released in 2013. It featured a case style similar to the upcoming Xbox One, and eliminated one USB port and the S/PDIF, YPbPr component and S-video connections, but otherwise shared the same specifications as the Xbox 360 S.

Third generation: Xbox One

The Xbox One with the redesigned Kinect and controller

The Xbox One was released on November 22, 2013, in North America, as the successor of the Xbox 360. The Xbox One competes with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch as part of the eighth generation of video game consoles.

Announced on May 21, 2013,[14] the Xbox One has an emphasis on internet-based features, including the ability to record and stream gameplay, and the ability to integrate with a set-top box to watch cable or satellite TV through the console with an enhanced guide interface and Kinect-based voice control.[15][16][17][18]

Following its unveiling, the Xbox One proved controversial for its original digital rights management and privacy practices; while Microsoft touted the ability for users to access their library of games (regardless of whether they were purchased physically or digitally) on any Xbox One console without needing their discs, and the ability to share their entire library with 10 designated "family" members, all games would have to be tied to the user's Xbox Live account and their Xbox One console, and the console would be required to connect to the Internet on a periodic basis (at least once every 24 hours) to synchronize the library, or else the console would be unable to play any games at all.[19][20] After an overwhelmingly negative response from critics and consumers (who also showed concerns that the system could prevent or hinder the resale of used games), Microsoft announced that these restrictions would be dropped.[21] Microsoft was also criticized for requiring the Xbox One to have its updated Kinect peripheral plugged in to function, which critics and privacy advocates believed could be used as a surveillance device. As a gesture toward showing a commitment to user privacy, Microsoft decided to allow the console to function without Kinect.[22][23][24]

On June 13, 2016, Microsoft announced the Xbox One S at E3 2016, which featured a smaller form factor, as well as support for 4K video (including streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray) and HDR.[25] At E3 2017, Microsoft unveiled Xbox One X, a high-end model with improved hardware designed to facilitate the playing of games at 4K resolution.[26]

Fourth generation: Xbox Series X and Series S

The fourth generation of Xbox models, simply named Xbox,[27] will include the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S that will launch on November 10, 2020. These are high- and low-end versions comparable to the Xbox One X and Xbox One S models, respectively, with all games designed for this model family playable on both systems. The Xbox Series X is estimated to be four times as powerful as Xbox One X, with support for 8K resolution and up to 120 frames-per-second rendering, with a nominal target of 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. The Xbox Series S is a digital-only unit with less graphic processing power, but can still render at a nominal 1440p resolution at 60 frames per second with support for 4K upscaling. Both consoles features support for new graphics rendering systems including real-time ray-tracing, and the new Xbox Velocity Architecture that works with the internal SSD drive to maximize the rate of texture streaming to the graphics processor, among other features. Besides games for this new console family, both consoles are fully compatible with all Xbox One games and most hardware, as well as all backward compatible games that were playable on the Xbox One from the Xbox 360 and original Xbox console.[28]

To help transition consumers, Microsoft introduced its Smart Delivery system which most of its first-party games and several third-party games will use to offer free updates to Xbox One versions of games to the Xbox Series X/S version over the first few years of the consoles' launch.[29][30]

Comparison

The following table is a comparison of the four generations of Xbox hardware.

Xbox generation First Second Third Fourth
Xbox Xbox 360 Xbox One Xbox One S Xbox One X Xbox Series S Xbox Series X
Console Original Xbox Xbox 360 Microsoft-Xbox-One-Console-wKinect.png Microsoft-Xbox-One-S-Console-wController-L.jpg Xbox One X
Console launch price US$299.99 US$299.99
Further information: Xbox 360 launch#Release dates and pricing
  • US$499.99 (with Kinect)
  • US$399.99 (without Kinect)
  • US$299.99 (Xbox One S)
  • US$249.99 (Xbox One S All-Digital Edition)
US$499.99 US$299.99 US$499.99
Release date
  • NA: November 15, 2001
  • JP: February 22, 2002
  • EU: March 14, 2002
  • NA: November 22, 2005
  • EU: December 2, 2005
  • JP: December 10, 2005
  • AU: March 23, 2006
Further information: Xbox 360 launch#Release dates and pricing
November 22, 2013[31]
  • Xbox One S: August 2, 2016
  • Xbox One S All-Digital Edition: May 7, 2019
November 7, 2017 November 10, 2020
Discontinued
  • JP: June 4, 2006
  • NA: March 2, 2009
  • EU: March 11, 2007
  • WW: April 20, 2016
  • WW: August 2, 2016
  • WW: July 16, 2020 (All-Digital Edition)
  • WW: July 16, 2020
N/A N/A
Units sold[a] 24+ million (as of May 10, 2006)[1] 84+ million (as of June 9, 2014)[32](details) 26+ million (estimate, as of January 18, 2017)[33] N/A N/A N/A
Best-selling game Halo 2, 8 million (as of May 9, 2006)[34][35] Kinect Adventures! (pack-in with Kinect peripheral), [36]

Best selling non-bundled game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, 14.23 million[37]

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, 7.24 million (As of October 16, 2016)[38][needs update?] N/A N/A
Media CD, DVD CD, DVD, HD DVD (movies only) with add-on drive, USB Drive with supported media, DLNA Servers[39] CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, USB Drive with supported media, DLNA Servers[39] CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, UHD Blu-ray Disc, USB Drive with supported media, DLNA Servers[40] USB Drive with supported media, DLNA Servers CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, UHD Blu-ray Disc, USB Drive with supported media, DLNA Servers
Accessories (retail)
  • Xbox Live Starter Kit
  • Xbox Media Center Extender
  • DVD Playback Kit
  • Xbox Music Mixer
  • Memory Unit (8 MB)
  • Logitech Wireless Controller (2.4 GHz)
  • More...

see Xbox 360 accessories

  • Media Remote
  • Stereo Headset Adapter
  • Official Stereo Headset
  • Digital TV Tuner (EU Only)
  • Play and Charge Kit

see Xbox One accessories

CPU 733 MHz x86 Intel Celeron/Pentium III Custom Hybrid CPU 3.2 GHz IBM PowerPC tri-core CPU codenamed "Xenon" 1.75 GHz AMD x86-64 eight-core CPU codenamed "Jaguar"[41] 2.3 GHz semi-custom AMD x86-64 eight-core CPU code named "Jaguar Enhanced"[40] 3.6 GHz custom AMD Zen 2 eight-core CPU 3.8 GHz custom AMD Zen 2 eight-core CPU[42]
GPU 233 MHz nVidia custom GeForce 3 NV2A DirectX 8.0 based GPU 500 MHz ATi custom Radeon X1800 DirectX 9.0c based GPU codenamed "Xenos" 853 MHz AMD Radeon HD 7000 series DirectX 11.1, DirectX 12 based GPU codenamed "Durango" with 12 compute units 914 MHz AMD Radeon HD 7000 series DirectX 11.1, DirectX 12 based GPU codenamed "Edmonton" with 12 compute units 1172 MHz AMD GCN DirectX 11.1, DirectX 12 based GPU codenamed "Scorpio" with 40 compute units 1550 MHz AMD Custom RDNA 2 DirectX 12 based CPU with 20 compute units[42] 1825 MHz AMD Custom RDNA 2 DirectX 12 based CPU with 52 compute units[42]
Memory 64 MB DDR SDRAM @ 200 MHz 6.4 GB/s 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM @ 700 MHz 22.4 GB/s, 10 MB EDRAM GPU frame buffer memory 8 GB of DDR3 RAM @ 2133 MHz 68.3 GB/s,[39] 32 MB ESRAM GPU frame buffer memory 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM @ 6.8 GHz 326 GB/s[40] 10 GB of GDDR6 RAM: 8GB @ 244 GB/s, 2 GB @ 56 GB/s 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM; 10 GB @ 560 GB/s, 6 GB @ 336 GB/s[42]
Video I/O ports
Video resolution and features

Various monitor resolutions available via VGA and HDMI/DVI (640×480, 848×480, 1024×768, 1280×720, 1280×768, 1280×1024, 1360×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050 & 1920×1080)

Video codecs supported

?

N/A N/A
Audio I/O
Audio formats and features N/A N/A
Audio codecs supported

N/A N/A
Online service Xbox Live (2002-10)
XLink Kai (2003-present)
Xbox Live
Xbox Live Arcade
Xbox Live Marketplace
Xbox Live Vision (webcam), headset
Xbox Live Video Marketplace
Windows Live Messenger
Internet Explorer
VideoKinect (Kinect sensor is no longer needed)
Xbox Live
Xbox Store
Microsoft Store
Internet Explorer
Microsoft Edge
Skype
Xbox Live
Xbox Store
Microsoft Store
Microsoft Edge
Skype
Backward compatibility N/A 50% of Xbox Library Select Xbox 360 and Xbox titles[43]
System software Xbox Music Mixer
DVD Playback Kit, Xbox Linux
see Xbox 360 system software see Xbox One system software
System software features
  • DLNA server support
  • External hard drive (HD) support
Consumer programmability Via Softmods and/or modchips; Modified Windows CE 2.x, Linux. Development on PC with XNA Game Studio ($99/year subscription, binary distribution with XNA 1.0 Refresh).[46] ID@Xbox and approved Microsoft Store; UWP apps.

Future

Microsoft has been recently working to leverage the branding of "Xbox" beyond the console hardware but as a general video game brand, reflected in the renaming of Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios in 2019.[47][48] Phil Spencer had stated in June 2019 that for Microsoft, "The business isn't how many consoles you sell. The business is how many players are playing the games that they buy, how they play." which journalists have taken as a route to de-emphasize console hardware and prioritize games, subscriptions and services for players.[49][50] Later in February 2020, Spencer said that moving forward, the company does not see "traditional gaming companies" like Nintendo and Sony as their competitors but instead those that offer cloud computing services such as Amazon and Google. Spencer identified that Microsoft Azure is a major component of their plans going forward, which powers its xCloud game streaming service.[51] Spencer also cited mobile gaming as a potential area, and where Microsoft was trying to position itself with its services should this become the more preferred form for gaming. Spencer said "I don't think it's 'hardware agnostic' as much as it's 'where you want to play'", in describing how Microsoft was strategizing the Xbox branding for the future.[52]

Games

Each console has a variety of games. Most games released on the original Xbox are backwards compatible and can be played directly on its successor, Xbox 360. Backward compatibility with Xbox 360 titles was added to Xbox One in June 2015, although titles requiring Kinect or USB peripherals will not be supported.

Services

Xbox Live

Xbox Live is an online service with over 65 million users worldwide (as of July 2019).[53] It comprises an online virtual market, the Xbox Live Marketplace, which allows the purchase and download of games and various forms of multimedia. Online gaming on the Xbox first started on November 15, 2002 worldwide. The service is still active and continues to be played by gamers.

Xbox Live Marketplace

The Xbox Live Marketplace (XBLM) is a virtual market designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console that allows Xbox Live members to download purchased or promotional content. The service offers movie and game trailers, Video Store, game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, Xbox Live Indie Games (Previously Community Games), Games on Demand (Xbox 360 and Xbox Originals), downloadable content such as map packs, gamer pictures, and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes.

The August 11, 2009 update added Xbox 360 games for download, the Avatar Marketplace, and renamed Community Games to Indie Games.

The Spring 2007 update to the Xbox 360 Dashboard relocated the Marketplace to its own "blade" in order to bring more attention to the service and make it more accessible to users. Although this has been obsoleted by the NXE update, the section has been implemented into three separate sections in the Dashboard: the Game Marketplace, Video & Music Marketplace, and Avatar Marketplace.

Downloaded content requires enough space on either the Xbox 360's hard drive, or an Xbox 360 Memory Unit. Selected downloads are placed in a queue and are downloaded whilst the console is powered on and is connected to Xbox Live. Users can choose to send certain downloads to the front of the queue to be downloaded first. Downloads are temporarily halted during certain times where games make use of Xbox Live's features (e.g. online multiplayer).

Xbox SmartGlass

Xbox SmartGlass is a companion application for Xbox 360 available for Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Phone, iOS, Android (version 4.0 and above),[54] and Windows Server 2012. It was announced by Microsoft during E3 2012 and released on October 26, 2012, coinciding with the release of Windows 8.[55] It connects with the Xbox 360 and allows more interactive entertainment, allowing mobile devices to potentially serve as second screens and remote controller. Currently[when?] Windows 8 and Windows RT Tablets and PCs, Windows Phone (7.5 and 8) iOS devices, and Android smartphones (4.x) are compatible with SmartGlass,[56] providing information such as Halo 4 stats and Forza Horizon GPS.[57] Users of Windows Server 2012 can currently download the application from the Windows Store after installing the Windows Desktop Experience feature in the Server Manager.[58]

Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming

Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming[59] (codenamed xCloud during development) is the Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming streaming service.

Content filter

In 2019, Microsoft released a content filtering to stop swearing and toxicity in online gaming. The service enable players to report messages, Gamertags, photos, and any other toxic content on its platform.[60]

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service from Microsoft for use with its Xbox One and Windows 10. Described as "Netflix for video games",[61] the Xbox Game Pass grants users access to a catalog of games from a range of publishers for a single monthly subscription price. The service was launched on June 1, 2017.

Software

Xbox 360 Dashboard

The Xbox 360's original graphical user interface was the Xbox 360 Dashboard; a tabbed interface that featured five "Blades" (formerly four blades), and was designed by AKQA and Audiobrain. It could be launched automatically when the console booted without a disc in it, or when the disc tray was ejected, but the user had the option to select what the console does if a game is in the tray on start up, or if inserted when already on. A simplified version of it was also accessible at any time via the Xbox Guide button on the gamepad. This simplified version showed the user's gamercard, Xbox Live messages and friends list. It also allowed for personal and music settings, in addition to voice or video chats, or returning to the Xbox Dashboard from the game.

Xbox One Dashboard

Xbox Family Settings App

In May 2020,  Xbox presented a preview version of an app that allows parents and guardians to set daily limits for their children's playing time, provides weekly activity reports, filters out age-restricted games, and places limits on online communication. This is the attempt of Microsoft, Xbox's owner, to promote a message of responsible gaming. The full release is expected in the end of 2020 or later.[62]

Controllers

Xbox Controller

Original Xbox controller, first showcased in 2000
Xbox Controller S, which first shipped in 2002

Released in 2001, the Xbox control pad was the first controller made for the original Xbox. The Xbox controller features two analog sticks, a pressure-sensitive directional pad, two analog triggers, a Back button, a Start button, two accessory slots and six 8-bit analog action buttons (A/Green, B/Red, X/Blue, Y/Yellow, and Black and White buttons).[63] The standard Xbox controller (originally nicknamed the "Fatty"[64] and later the "Duke"[65]) was originally the controller bundled with Xbox systems for all territories except Japan.

Xbox 360 Controller

Xbox 360 S Controller

Released in 2005, the Xbox 360 controller for the Xbox 360 succeeded its predecessor. A standard Xbox 360 controller features eleven digital buttons, two analog triggers, two analog sticks and a digital D-pad. The right face of the controller features four digital action buttons; a green "A" button, red "B" button, blue "X" button and yellow "Y" button. The lower right houses the right analog stick, in lower left is a digital D-pad and on the left face is the left analog stick. Both analog sticks can also be "clicked in" to activate a digital button beneath. In the center of the controller face are digital "Start", "Back" and "Guide" buttons. The "Guide" button is labelled with the Xbox logo, and is used to turn on the console/controller and to access the guide menu. It is also surrounded by the "ring of light", which indicates the controller number, as well as flashing when connecting and to provide notifications. The left and right "shoulders" each feature a digital shoulder button, or "bumper", and an analog trigger.

Xbox 360 Kinect

The Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor

Kinect (stylized as KINECT) is a motion sensing input device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game console and Windows PCs. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands.[66] The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360's audience beyond its typical gamer base.[67] Kinect competes with the Wii Remote Plus and PlayStation Move with PlayStation Eye motion controllers for the Wii and PlayStation 3 home consoles, respectively. A version for Windows was released on February 1, 2012.[68]

Kinect was launched in North America on November 4, 2010,[69] in Europe on November 10, 2010,[70] in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore on November 18, 2010,[71][72][73] and in Japan on November 20, 2010.[74] Purchase options for the sensor peripheral include a bundle with the game Kinect Adventures and console bundles with either a 4 GB[75][76][77] or 250 GB[78] Xbox 360 console and Kinect Adventures.[75][76][77][78]

The Kinect claimed the Guinness World Record of being the "fastest selling consumer electronics device" after selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days.[79][80][81] 24 million units of the Kinect sensor had been shipped as of January 2012.[36]

Microsoft released Kinect software development kit for Windows 7 on June 16, 2011.[82][83][84] This SDK was meant to allow developers to write Kinecting apps in C++/CLI, C#, or Visual Basic .NET.[85][86]

Additional information on the Xbox One Kinect was released on June 6, 2013, including information on how to turn off the "always on" feature.[87]

Xbox One Controller

Xbox One Controller

The Xbox One console has a revised controller with forty improvements over the 360's controller. This new controller is built to work with Kinect. The Start and Back buttons are replaced with Menu and View buttons. It has impulse triggers that replace the regular triggers. The button with the Xbox logo will no longer bring up the Xbox Guide as the Xbox Guide Button on the Xbox 360 controller did. The button will now open up the dashboard without interrupting the game currently being played by the user. Once pressed again, the Xbox will resume the game.[88]

Xbox One Kinect

The Xbox One Kinect sensor

Although featuring improved performance over the original Xbox 360 Kinect, its successor the Xbox One Kinect was subject to mixed responses. It was praised for its wide-angle, its fast response time and high-quality camera. However, the Kinect's inability to understand some accents in English was criticized. Furthermore, controversies surround Microsoft's intentional tying of the sensor with the Xbox One console despite the initial requirements for the sensor being plugged in at all times having been revised since its initial announcement. There have also been a number of concerns regarding privacy.

Xbox Series X and Series S Controller

The fourth generation Xbox Controller doesn't change much from the Xbox One controller, but the new wireless Xbox Controller does add a capture and share button, a hybrid d-pad, and better gripping on the bumpers and triggers.[89] The controller is also promised to be cross compatible with certain PC's and mobile devices.[90]

Marketing

In 2016, Microsoft announced that it would hold its own Xbox FanFest instead of a press conference at the Gamescom annual European video game convention.[91] Microsoft held an Xbox FanFest in Sydney in September 2016.[92]

Notes

  1. ^ Microsoft does not release detailed sales figures of its Xbox hardware sales, so all figures provided are based on industry analysis estimates.

References

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