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Microsoft released the original Xbox 15 years ago today

Microsoft released the original Xbox on November 15, 2001, and the company is celebrating a decade and a half of all things Xbox by reflecting on notable firsts.

Several of Microsoft's most venerable first-party franchises owe their popularity and success to the original Xbox. Bungie's Halo: Combat Evolved started as a third-person action game in development for the Mac before becoming exclusive to Xbox. Halo single-handedly put Xbox on the map, and is mentioned in the same conversation as other system-seller launch titles as Super Mario 64 and Wii Sports.

Turn 10's Forza Motorsport debuted on May 3, 2005, just four months before the Xbox 360 console put "OG" Xbox out to pasture. My personal favorite Xbox title, Team Ninja's reimagining of Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden, emerged from the shadows in 2004.

More than any single franchise, the Xbox ushered in online gaming. Console had gone online before; Sega's Dreamcast was a notable example. However, Xbox was the first console to make online multiplayer simple and widespread.

Microsoft executives past and present have been reminiscing about OG Xbox as of late. Designer Sheamus Blackley admitted that the "Duke" controller was "embarrassingly huge," but plenty of players grew to prefer it to smaller peripherals like Sony's DualShock 2.

In another interview, Xbox co-creator Ed Fries recalled how the then-nascent Xbox development team had to galvanize Bill Gates into approving the console's creation by insinuating that Sony would run roughshod in the living room space without Microsoft there to make a bid for it.

Earlier today, Microsoft shared statistics that the Xbox brand has amassed over the past 15 years:

  • Number of players:  222,468,423
  • Number of total gaming hours: 100,539,390,670
  • Number of total multiplayer hours: 29,000,304,183
  • Number of Achievements unlocked:  32,667,582,157
  • Gamerscore racked up:  572,605,554,587
  • Highest Gamerscore: 1,416,465
  • Number of Xbox Live friendships made:  4,233,891,482
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