It’s crazy to think that Microsoft’s second console is a decade old today, but it’s true – the machine launched in the USA on November 22nd 2005. No doubt making it harder to believe is the fact that the machine is still in active service, as even now it is receiving major releases like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and an extremely impressive version of Rise Of The Tomb Raider.
It’s hard to deny that the machine has built a major legacy over the last ten years. Thanks to a year-long head start over its competition, Microsoft had shipped 10 million Xbox 360 consoles before Nintendo and Sony made it to market. While the machine quickly fell behind the sales of the family-friendly Wii, it maintained a sales lead over Sony’s somewhat mishandled PlayStation 3 until the later years of the generation, when the two consoles achieved parity. Over 84 million consoles have been sold, thanks to exclusive games like the Project Gotham Racing, Halo and Gears Of War series, early hits such as Dead Rising and Crackdown, and smart timed exclusives like Bioshock.
Of course, the Xbox 360’s story was not all positive. Despite strong sales throughout its lifetime, the machine didn’t actually turn a profit until 2008. Worse yet, the machine was notoriously unreliable during the first few years of its life, with the Red Ring Of Death hardware failure hitting millions of users and necessitating a repair programme which ended up costing Microsoft over $1 billion. It’s also fair to say that the machine tailed off somewhat in its later years, with a lack of exciting exclusives in the second half of the console’s life allowing Sony to catch up.
While you’re not likely to see us featuring it in the magazine soon, it’s worth celebrating the anniversary of what was a game-changing machine. It was the first console of the HD era, the first to offer downloadable games on a widespread basis and one which changed the game in terms of media options, offering a wide range of networked entertainment features. Take a look back at the reveal below, and tell us your favourite Xbox 360 moments in the comments.