Ten years ago today, Microsoft released the original Xbox in North America. While it was far from the best-selling console of all time, moving a relatively meager 25 million consoles, the system was still groundbreaking in a number of ways. It also set up Microsoft to release their next system, the Xbox 360, which would beat the competition to retail by nearly a year. But how did Microsoft, a company that had never even dabbled in game consoles, go from nothing to great success in so little time?
We, naturally, have the answers. While some might argue that the PlayStation 2 (check out Six reasons the PS2 is the best console of all time) or the GameCube were the greatest consoles ever, there's definitely grounds to make that argument for the original Xbox as well, and we have compiled six reasons the original Xbox is, indeed, the best console of all time.
1. It brought shooters to consoles for real
PCs owned the first-person shooter genre until the last
generation. Thanks to the one-two punch of mouse and keyboard controls
mixed with online play, games like Counter-Strike, Battlefield, and Rainbow
Six flourished while consoles got stuck with half-baked ports and infrequent
successes. Sure, there was Perfect Dark and GoldenEye, but be honest: those
ended up being seen as party games, not game-changing shooters.
Above: Hate on Chief if you will, but he was the first real console FPS hero
Once Halo was released, that all changed. It truly perfected
FPS controls with a controller in a way that none have before, making it feel
comfortable to use joysticks, even for those who grew up with a mouse and
keyboard. Once Halo 2 came out it really kicked the shift into high-gear, and
set the stage for FPS on consoles becoming more commonplace in the coming
2. It successfully pulled off online gaming
Speaking of Xbox Live – the original Xbox’s addition of Live
service completely changed the industry. Even though the Dreamcast tried to do
the same thing, the ability to add friends online and play games with them
seamlessly hadn’t been perfected on consoles until the Xbox.
Above: Limited, ugly, and revolutionary
This was partially because of Microsoft’s relatively ballsy
decision to disallow dial-up connections – something that was still relatively
common when the Xbox launched. By refusing to allow slow connections, Microsoft
was able to build the framework for fast, competent online multiplayer that
would change the industry forever.
3. It had a hard drive, but didn't abuse it
The inclusion of hard drives has undoubtedly changed the
industry forever. Beyond making it possible to save games without needless
peripherals (see: memory cards), it also gave way to one of the most important
additions to this console generation: downloadable games. It opened up consoles
to smaller, more inventive games that wouldn’t be worthy of a full disc, but
also wouldn’t have been developed if not for the console crowd. Games like Stacking,
Journey, and Shadow Complex likely wouldn’t exist if not for consoles having hard
drives, and consoles may not have hard drives if not for the Xbox.
Above: Like this, except inside the system and smaller
More importantly, it didn’t abuse the hard drive. This
generation’s games come with mandatory installs, or optional installs that
might as well be mandatory. The Xbox didn’t dabble in such things, and made sure
game developers kept their full, disc-based games on the disc where they belong.
Microsoft was (rightfully) strict when it came to handling the hard drive
space, a stance it should likely have stood behind moving into the 360.