Unbelievably, the original Xbox console is 20 years old. That little monolith that marked Microsoft’s first brave push into the world of video games is old enough to drink a pint in the UK, get married and more. So to mark the occasion, we’ve put together a small retrospective looking back at the first 20 years of Xbox. If you’ve got fond memories with this family of consoles, then you’ll enjoy this small trip down memory lane.
Revealed to the public at the dawn of the millennium, the original Xbox pushed its way into a landscape dominated by PlayStation and Nintendo. With just 64 MB of DDR SDRAM and up to 10 GB of internal storage (!) you can really see how far we’ve come from a technical perspective. The Xbox is well remembered for its chunky controller, industrial Y2K menus and, of course, Xbox Live. Xbox Live was revolutionary for online multiplayer infrastructure, with games like Halo 2 becoming titans of the era.
But perhaps the most endearing part of the Xbox legacy is the console’s unusual exclusives. Weird games like Otogi, Voodoo Vince, Psychonauts and Jet Set Radio Future spoke to the ambitions of the plucky console. Even if it didn’t quite win the generational war, the Xbox made an enduring impact with its distinct design and superb software.
Xbox 360 (2005)
A golden age of Xbox dawned with the Xbox 360, which, in hindsight, absolutely dominated the seventh console generation thanks to an easy-breezy approach to online multiplayer, plenty of great third-party games and some strong exclusives. This is when franchises like Halo, Fable, Gears of War and Forza all hit their stride, producing some of the most memorable games of the past 15 years, and plenty of fond (and potentially upsetting) memories of Xbox Live party chats.
The quirky Kinect got us up and moving and interacting with games from a different perspective (even if that meant dancing to Star Wars-themed Jason Derulo songs) and who could forget the “blades” UI design that made jumping into games so seamless? Just don’t mention the red ring of death…
Xbox One (2013)
The Xbox One family of consoles oversaw some cool exclusives like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive, as well as the explosion of games as a service and scores of superb third-party multiplayer. It also helped Microsoft push towards the liberating Xbox platform that we now know and love. HDR and 4K/upscaling also arrived with the addition of the Xbox One X and S – which elevated the visuals of many modern games – as well as plenty of backwards-compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 titles.
Xbox Series X/S (2020)
Speaking of which, here we are in the 2020s with a brand-new, incredibly clever approach from Microsoft. Platform agnostic and cheap as chips, players can subscribe to the wildly-popular Xbox Game Pass service and get access to an unparalleled library of games across consoles, PC and the cloud. The Xbox Game Studios wheelhouse is also growing thanks to acquisition studios like Double Fine, Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian. The future looks extremely bright for Microsoft’s AAA output!
The strength of this generation can also be seen in the versatility and technical specifications of the dual consoles. The high-powered Series X can hit up to 8K with its monstrous 12 Teraflop internals, but the more affordable Series S is the ultimate 1080p games machine that can munch through most top titles and leverage the cloud where necessary to go beyond.
The more reserved minifridge and slimline designs of the X and S consoles also make them easy to slot into a modern living room. And console wars aside, Xbox has found itself in its strongest position in a long time, and is even using this time to reflect on the greater parts of its legacy with games like Halo Infinite.
Did you start your journey with the original Xbox or did you join the fun with a later console? Let us know over at our Community Forum, or click below to browse Green Man Gaming’s selection of Xbox titles.