The wasted opportunity of the original Xbox

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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The original Xbox was the first games console to come with a built in hard disk and network adaptor. This should have made for some very special features the PS2 couldn’t match.

The first game I ever played on an Xbox was Mechassault at a friends house. He was playing it over Xbox live wearing a headset and fighting against eleven other players. I could immediately see the graphics were superior to the PS2 and the online part was amazingly smooth with no lag in games and matchmaking that seemed to work great.

The Xbox was released as a first entry into the home console market by Microsoft and as a competitor to the PS2.  Hardware wise, it was estimated to be about twice as powerful and I’m some games this showed quite clearly, such as in the GTA series. There was also a release of doom 3 and half life 2 which the PS2 couldn’t hope to come close to doing justice too.

Aside from games, what am I posting about? Well, several years after seeing the Xbox for the first time I discovered modding.

Modding allows for some pretty amazing functions on the Xbox. Such a accessing it from your PC, installing games onto the hard drive, running emulators, and streaming videos and music.

Basically Microsoft could have had something like the Wii’s virtual console on the Xbox, they could also have released an iPlayer app, and had a streaming TV/movie service like Netflix, over ten years ago!!! Now I know the hard disk was only 6 gigs but the controller ports were based on USB, so a small adaptor cable could have easily allowed for an external drive to be connected.

The Xbox was also very close to being a PC, CPU architecture wise, so they could have easily written a visual studio express edition to let indie developers write games for it, then use XBox Live as the marketplace, but they didn’t do this till the 360.

What else? Well many European readers won’t know this but the Xbox was HD capable, and in the US, a number of games could be played at 720p resolution. Making better use of this in Europe would have been awesome and really shown off what the system was capable of, maybe it could of even upscaled DVDs to 720p quality?

Basically what I’m saying is everything the 360 did was possible on the first Xbox and Microsoft would have blown Sony out the water, but they didn’t.

And now they’re failing to beat Sony with the Xbox one…. Will you never learn Microsoft?

  1. They’re not failing to beat Sony with the Xbox One – and I’m not sure if I would even want them to. The current global sales figures basically say that Microsoft and Sony are splitting the market equally AGAIN, just like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 also split the market in equal shares. For customers, that is a very good thing because it forces both companies to keep improving their products and services, and it forces the game studios to optimize their games for both platforms. Monopolies are never good for the customer – prices skyrocket while innovation diminishes. So I don’t want Microsoft to beat Sony, just like I don’t want Apple to beat Samsung.

    Personally, I found the Xbox One (and the Xbox 360 before that) to be the more attractive product and bought it instead of the PS4. Another reason was that Sony’s PS4 is not even available in Germany at the moment, while Microsoft very obviously has better control over its supply chain and manages to produce sufficient amounts of the Xbox One. On the long run, I don’t expect any of the two consoles to gain significantly more market share than the other one. While both are game consoles, they attract different target audiences. The Xbox family has always been a more attractive offering for First Person Shooter fans (which was my main reason to go with the Xbox) and the Xbox One certainly is the superior media hub solution at this point. The PlayStation family with its slightly different game portfolio attracts a different crowd of gamers. And most hardcore gamers will buy both consoles anyway so that they can play all available exclusive titles.

    I never owned the original Xbox, I only saw it once at a friend’s house who had installed some Linux version on it (probably the original XBMC) to use it as a media center machine. Even until today, I have no need for a media center system, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I use my 40″ TV as a computer monitor for a regular PC with Xbubuntu on it; my wife and I hate using TV remote controls, and we hate watching regular TV. We love movies and good TV series like “Sherlock”, but we hate “normal” TV. None of those additional features that consoles offer are of any importance for me – I use them to play games, full stop.

    Back when the original Xbox was released, it was still too early for me to move from PCs to consoles for gaming. When I read that Half-Life 2 ran on the original Xbox, I knew that consoles were finally getting there, but only when the Xbox 360 was released I knew that they now had sufficient power and reserves to cater to my gaming needs.

    I never regretted the decision to go with the Xbox 360, and after having played Ghosts on the Xbox One, I got the feeling that I won’t regret that purchase either – it’s very obvious that the current release titles not even scratch on the surface of the potential of the new machines.

    Do I want a console to be more than just a playback device for games? The geek in me says yes, of course. But then they wouldn’t be consoles anymore, they would be “real” PCs and that kind of defeats the purpose of a console. A console is there to provide a strictly defined hard- and software environment for games with a lifetime of seven to ten years. That is THE killer argument FOR consoles – you make ONE small investment in hardware for a DECADE and get the GUARANTEE that even in eight to ten years from now the newest games will still run flawlessly on that device. No PC EVER managed to give you that guarantee.

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