Microsoft released the original Xbox 15 years ago today

Halo, Forza, and other franchises owe their success to Microsoft's inaugural entry in the console space. 


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
Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 15, 2016 12:25 PM

    -Shack Staff posted a new article, Microsoft released the original Xbox 15 years ago today

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      November 15, 2016 1:06 PM

      Please just pay nvidia the money and release the emulator for Xbone and Win 10. Heck charge fifteen dollars for the emulator, or something and make all the games purchaseable somehow on the Xbone store?

      Don't do it the shitty way Sony did

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      November 15, 2016 1:18 PM

      I still have mine, hacked with some kind of chip on the front underside!

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      November 15, 2016 1:20 PM


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      November 15, 2016 1:23 PM

      Ah memories of rallisport challenge. I remember when ninja gaiden got released and almost every hardcore gamer messed their pants over it.

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      November 15, 2016 1:25 PM

      Fifteen years ago I played through Halo: CE all in one sitting with my friend. We had pepperoni pizza, Lipton iced tea, and root beer and we played all night. What a fucking smash hit launch title.

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        November 15, 2016 5:07 PM

        Same here! Still one of my favorite SP/co-op games to play through.

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        November 15, 2016 5:08 PM

        I always thought that game saved the entire Xbox line.

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        November 15, 2016 11:13 PM

        It was the reason I bought an Xbox, after watching my roommate playing through on Legendary.

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        November 15, 2016 11:33 PM

        Yeah it was a fucking amazing game at the time. And now Halo doesn't even have split screen co-op. Bastards.

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        November 15, 2016 11:40 PM

        Yes, me too! Favorite co-op experience of all time!

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        November 16, 2016 12:44 AM

        Same here. I actually flew back to the US the day it came out. I drove my jetlagged ass from the airport to the closest mall, bought the Xbox and Halo, drove 2 hours to my place and proceeded to play until I beat Halo and fell asleep.

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        November 16, 2016 2:57 AM

        those last few levels were so damn frustrating, it wasn't fun at that point to me. I did finish it though!

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          November 16, 2016 5:00 AM

          I died quite a few times during the last warthog segment. That last jump at the end probably killed me half a dozen times.

          Its been 15 years but I sure as hell remember that last drive. I could probably do it from memory right now if I had to.

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      November 16, 2016 2:40 AM

      I've still got mine. I spent a weekend modding it with an SSD and no DVD drive, I might dremel a few inches off it next since there's just lots of empty space in there now!

      Last thing to do is buy two more S pads, replace the sticks with some excellent reproductions I've used before ( ) , then get some four player Kung Fu Chaos, Def Jam Vendetta, Halo 2 and Mashed on the go with pals!

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        November 16, 2016 7:12 AM

        Dude, that is a list of some top quality xbox gaming. Sign me up! Fucking love some Def Jam, KFC and Mashed!

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      November 16, 2016 6:44 AM

      Such an underloved system by modern gamers and retro gamers alike. You can find almost all of the great games on the platform for dirt cheap and there's plenty of goodies that never made it to any other platform (even via emulation) :(

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