The gaming console has experienced quite the evolution since the turn of the century, and systems like the Xbox have been responsible for said evolution. Xbox One is the most recent version of the Xbox platform, but the Xbox 360 marked a time when significant risks and changes were happening in the gaming industry.
At a time when the industry was not exactly all in on ideas of online gaming ecosystems, Microsoft was convinced of its value and how it would impact how developers create games. As we have seen over the past decade and a half, Microsoft bet correctly with its online emphasis.
“[Xbox] Live was by no means a slam-dunk – a lot of perseverance was required to get support from the industry and to convince them of the value of a single identity and friends list, unlockable game trials, a unified leaderboard, achievements, required updates to prevent cheating and downloadable content. Today, it’s hard to imagine gaming without these features, but a decade ago, these were very difficult discussions – especially as the new kids on the block,” Former Microsoft CTO J Allard told NowGamer.
Many games these days feature online-centric modes, and for many titles, it’s essential for something to have online components. When Halo: Combat Evolved was first being pushed by Microsoft, many in the industry were unconvinced of the concepts and ideas Bungie and Microsoft were selling.
“Beyond Live, remember that Halo was slammed at E3 2000 – people didn’t think it was fun and thought it would never work on a console. We got hammered for not having a modem and committing to broadband and insisting on the importance of voice. Generally speaking, the industry didn’t have faith in mass storage, downloadable content or digital distribution. Concepts like trial versions of titles and non-retail titles like Xbox Arcade were met with resistance,” J Allard said.
As we see in gaming today, downloadable content is easily one of the most common things that come along with every new AAA game release. DLC is something we see constantly, and digital distribution has started to become a primary source of income for gaming companies.
“Unified Gamertags and Friends, Achievements and user-generated content seemed like outrageous asks of publishers and developers. A decade later, FPS is probably the biggest category in console gaming, everyone has broadband, almost every title has downloadable content, all game platforms have achievements, leaderboards and friendslists and the massively successful Minecraft is about user-generated content at its core. Had we not persevered through the difficult discussions, many of these aspects of gaming would likely have played out much more slowly, and Xbox would not have become the brand that it grew into,” J Allard said.
It’s quite difficult to imagine gaming without things like achievements, online friends, Gamertags and other things of that nature. They have become staples of every platform’s structure and achievements are something many gamers, such as myself, pride themselves on earning. Xbox has been an extremely important and innovative platform and it will most likely continue as such moving forward.