On this day 20 years ago the players got their hands on a big black box with a green heart that was drawn as the letter X.
The original Xbox, paired with its chunky controller (nicknamed The Duke), entered the scene to compete with Sony and Nintendo.
The console was hosting games like Halo: Combat Evolved and Forza Motorsport and wanted to show that Microsoft could have an impact on the gaming world.
Since that original release, the Xbox family of consoles have done just that, establishing themselves as a major player in an industry worth around £ 150 billion a year globally.
The red rings of death
It hasn’t always been easy to become one of the top three console manufacturers in the world.
Speaking to BBC Sounds Podcast Press X to Continue – current Xbox boss Phil Spencer laughs: “I mean, think about our story, we had our moments, right!”
From the “red rings of death” that plagued owners of the famous Xbox 360 to the “perplexities that arose immediately after the launch of Xbox One” – Phil says they still had a lot of problems to work on.
But those difficult times played an important role in the company’s achievement of this milestone. “Without a doubt those experiences helped us, I think we learned from everything,” he says.
“Sometimes, when great success occurs, it’s hard to find out why. I think it’s a little easier to understand where some of the missteps have been, when something isn’t exactly going to plan.
“I feel great about where we are now.”
Today Xbox Live – the online service for playable versions of the console it is said to have more than 90 million monthly users around the world.
The latest versions of Xbox, Series X and S, they are the fastest sales in the history of the company – although industry analysts estimate that their main competitor, the Playstation 5, has sold the most.
The next 20 years
Looking to the next 20 years as he tries to stay in touch with players around the world, Phil says diversity is key: “It’s critical to the journey we’re on.
“I truly believe we send our culture as much as we send our technology with every product or game we release. The culture of the team and their lived experiences manifest in the products we build.
“As a privileged, older white male in the tech industry, I am not the anomaly. I realize there are many privileges that have brought me to this position over the years.
“When we think about the role we want to play in the world, our products and our services, we have to think inwardly about our team, there is no doubt about it.”
To help achieve this, Phil says Microsoft is making its diversity and inclusion goals public. It’s a move that is becoming popular with tech companies – Sony also publishes a report on diversity and equality.
Any game on any device
Microsoft is taking a different approach than its main competitors Sony and Nintendo when it comes to the future, which means we could see a very different gaming landscape in the years to come.
“In some of our traditional markets, if you look back over the past 20 years, there are people spending £ 500 on a game console or £ 50 on a new game,” says Phil.
“They are not the social or economic realities of the planet, so we also need diversity in the way we distribute the content we have made.”
Playstation and Nintendo are focused on enticing people to play on their latest consoles, with many exclusive titles focused on selling discs and downloads at a premium price.
Microsoft obviously wants to do the same, but is spending a lot of energy getting the games out to many devices.
As the machines made by the other two are reportedly selling more than the new Xbox Series X and S, Phil hopes Microsoft’s approach is the right one. “We are focusing on things like GamePass, our subscription service that can reduce the monthly cost of someone building their own game library.
“We are focusing on things like X-Cloud, which allows us to distribute games over the Internet on almost any device.
“These are steps in a journey towards creating content that allows creators around the world to come together and allow anyone on the planet to play, share with a community, and perhaps save the world from alien invasion!”
A sector in the process of maturing
The game has changed a lot over the past 20 years and has undergone a lot of scrutiny.
Whether it’s protecting players from online abuse, protecting them from compelling game mechanics, or observing how some titles encourage players to spend money, Phil believes the industry as a whole is now better prepared to tackle these issues. “I think this is a journey, not a destination.
“I like it as an industry that we don’t shy away from talking about the opportunities and challenges.”
Companies like Microsoft and the gaming industry in general need to talk a lot about these challenges right now.
It has been nearly three years since the World Health Organization officially listed “gambling disorder” as a disease.
The UK government is currently considering regulating in-game purchases afterwards The parliamentarians have called for more action – We expect an announcement on what exactly this means for the games people play on their Xboxes in the coming months.
Game streaming platforms have faced boycotts and are working to develop more tools to tackle online abuse and discrimination.
“You are only credible if you are discussing both the challenges and the opportunities and see an industry maturing, escalating and having these conversations.
“The safety and security of our customers are fundamental to who we are, we will continue to invest and we will continue to talk about it.”
Will we have consoles in 2041?
So what about 2041, then, will we have new Xbox consoles in stores in another 20 years? “You know, when you think about 20 years in the future, do you wonder if we will also have televisions?” says Phil.
“Most of the video content is now consumed on a phone around the planet.
“I think you will see a variety of devices that people will play video games on.
“The number of screens on which I can watch my videos and TV shows has increased and I think the games will go the same way.”
The full interview with Phil Spencer will soon be on the BBC Sounds Press X to Continue gaming podcast – you can listen to the series here.
More from Press X to Continue: The BBC Sounds Game Podcast:
- Chvrches: “It’s inevitable: we’ll make a video game”
- Bukayo Saka: game to find peace
- Video Game Movies: Are They Really That Bad?
Listen to Newsbeat inhabit 12:45 pm and 5:45 pm on weekdays – or listen again here.
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Bukayo Saka: The game puts me at peace
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source