Evening Reading: Goodbye Original Xbox Live

Microsoft wrote a fitting coda to its first game console today. On April 15 they plan to turn off Live access for the original Xbox. New games stopped coming to the system a long while ago but the persistence of online play stands as probably the strongest indication of just how well the service ultimately hit the mark.

When Live launched on only the first anniversary of the Xbox, November 15, 2002, no one knew quite what to make of it. In a world where most relied on dial-up connections to the Net, it required broadband access. And despite only supporting a handful of titles, it asked users for an annual subscription fee. The inclusion of a headset and support for voice chat across all games topped things off. I remember our reactions were along the lines of "what are they thinking? Consoles are for single-player games. That's what they need to take on the PS2," and "everyone who wants to play online plays on PC and it's free."

Yet Live never once looked back. It certainly paid off. All those things that seemed like a gamble at the time we take for granted today. Sony and Nintendo both countered with online adapters but they floundered without a corresponding service on which to anchor support. They took steps to recover that lost ground in the current generation but Live continuously pushed forwards as well turning gamers into gamerscore slaves, revamping the service with the "new Xbox experience," and making the 360 into a conduit for NetFlix, LastFM, Twitter, and Facebook. For this move to end original Xbox access to be seen as a part of the Live success story it must spur the next evolution of the service -- and that's more than just expanding the friends list beyond the 100 member cap (though that's a good start).

So goodbye original Xbox Live. I haven't seen you in a long time but we had many good times together. I put Crimson Skies up there as probably my most fond memories from the service but obviously Halo 2 will be dominant in the eyes of many. And lest Shoe track me down who can forget the tense Spies vs. Mercs Splinter Cell matches? Yes, I've moved on but for anyone wanting to relive these and any other Xbox moments online the clock has started ticking. 68 days remain until the servers shut down and the Xbox book comes to a final close.

We covered some other stories around the Shack today as well:

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