The story of all Xbox consoles in order is one of rejection and revenge-fueled success.
Like any good villain origin story, Microsoft’s entry into the video game market began with a rejection from their peers (future competition)…
Microsoft approached Sony and offered to help develop the software for the PlayStation 2. “Nope.”
They then approached Nintendo to potentially purchase the company. “No thanks.”
The original codename for the Xbox was “Midway”. Yes.. as in the Battle of Midway where the United States defeats Japan in epic battle. Resentment much?
The foundation of the Xbox was based around Microsoft’s DirectX (you get why the name is “Xbox now?).
For those of us who have heard that name a million times, but never knew what it was:
“Microsoft DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms." - Wikipedia.
Ultimately the DirectX team at Microsoft decided to make a video game console that was more similar to the hardware and software environment of a personal computer.
This should allow game developers to create titles that would not face as many limitations as they did in existing game consoles.
Of course, as the story goes… the Xbox went on to be a hit. Gamers loved it. Critics loved it.
The creation of the Xbox lead to one of the most loved controller designs, and some of the most cherished game titles in gaming history.
So let’s take a look at the full history of all Xbox consoles in order and see how this relatively newcomer in the world of video game hardware development quickly became a part of the “big 3”.
Table of Contents
The Xbox is the first home video game console by Microsoft, released on November 15, 2001.
It was part of the sixth generation of video game consoles along with the Sony Playstation 2, Nintendo GameCube and Sega Dreamcast.
It was also the first home video game console produced by a North American company since the Atari Jaguar in 1993 (which we recently wrote about on our article of All ATARI Consoles & Handhelds In Order).
The hardware featured a 733 MHz Intel Pentium III processor, which was commonplace in personal computers of the time.
It had many other features more commonly found on personal computers, including an internal hard drive and an ethernet port.
The gaming world was buzzing with the news of the incoming game console by Microsoft.
A new video game console by a company known for their work on personal computers? A console that was rumored to be far superior to anything we had ever seen before.
It was exciting times to be a gamer.
And of course… the Xbox had one of the most successful hardware launches of all time. They reportedly sold over one million in the first few weeks. It was virtually impossible to get your hands on one, if you were not lucky enough to pre-order (those all sold out too).
The consoles successful launch year was supported by a little game you may have heard of: Halo: Combat Evolved.
And that’s not all. There were a ton of other amazing game titles to come to the Xbox that helped make it one of the greatest consoles ever created. Check out our list of the 10 Best Selling Original Xbox Games Of All Time.
The original Xbox console has sold over 24 million units. But surprisingly, Microsoft actually lost over $4 billion due to high production costs of the original Xbox model. Apparently it cost more to make it than it cost to buy it!
But obviously, Microsoft had something special on their hands, and even if the numbers didn’t quite add up, they knew that it was a foundation for only good things to come.
Oh, and the Xbox took the number two spot on our list of the 10 Best Retro Games Consoles of all time. Yeah… it’s that good!
Xbox 360 (2005)
The Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005 and was Microsoft’s official follow up to the original Xbox model.
One new aim with the Xbox 360 was in its focus in online connection and digital purchases.
The newly created Xbox Live service and the Xbox Live Marketplace would allow users to do everything from purchase digital games, download updates, try game demos, stream music, rent movies…
All things that we know well, now, but were fairly new at the time.
The Xbox 360 was the reason that online play and digital marketplaces became mainstays on future generations of all game consoles.
Because I do not know computer talk, I will quote Wikipedia directly on this one:
“The Xbox 360 uses the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU, with each core capable of simultaneously processing two threads, and can therefore operate on up to six threads at once. Graphics processing is handled by the ATI Xenos, which has 10 MB of eDRAM. Its main memory pool is 512 MB in size.” - Wikipedia.
What does that mean exactly? I dunno. But I’m sure it means that the 360 was far superior to the performance of the original Xbox, and the Xbox 360 was considered an absolute beast at the time of its release.
Xbox 360 is the sixth highest selling video game console of all time and sold over 84 million units in total.
And once again, it was due to the insanely strong library of game titles that the Xbox 360 is still a favorite among gamers.
Take a look at our list of the 10 Best Selling Xbox 360 Games Of All Time. Recognize any of em?
If we add up the sales totals for those ten games alone, that is over 160 million games sold. I mean, come on… that’s wild.
Xbox 360 S (2010)
Capitalizing on the wild popularity and market superiority of the Xbox 360…
Microsoft released the Xbox 360 S (Slim) in July of 2010.
The changes to the S model included a new smaller design, faster and quieter performance, and a much improved cooling system (a point of failure for many original 360 units).
The console also was the first to feature a dedicated port for the new Kinect accessory, which would later prove to be quite a hit for the console.
Xbox 360 E (2013)
The second revision to the Xbox 360 was the Xbox 360 E, released in 2013.
Microsoft announced two new consoles at the E3 2013 event: the Xbox One and the Xbox 360 E.
And the new Xbox 360 E would be available at the time of its announcement.
The E variant of the 360 would be an even smaller and quieter console than the S variant… and removed some of the ports.
The new exterior design was made to match the aesthetics of the incoming Xbox One, the next to appear on our list of all Xbox consoles. So why wait? Let’s see that now!
Xbox One (2013)
The Xbox One was Microsoft’s third-generation console, released in November of 2013.
Marketed as an “all-in-one entertainment system” (ie “One”), with traditional media game play, cloud gaming, game play streaming and social sharing, blu-ray disc support, the new Kinect 2.0, and off-console game play through a Windows computer.
So basically, this thing did it all (they should have called it the “Xbox All”).
The new console was well received by critics and users, and one of the most praised features was the improved controller design.
The Xbox One runs two operating systems that are active at the same time, one for the games and one for the main UI and apps.
This was another feature that became a mainstay in game consoles that was made popular by Xbox.
The launch of the Xbox One was received with mixed criticism. But Microsoft was able to correct many of their initial mistakes in policies and software, resulting in the Xbox One being superior to the main competition, the Playstation 4.
The Xbox was the first generation of Microsoft’s consoles where the company opted to no longer share sales figures.
Independent research analysts estimate that the Xbox One has sold around 50 million units total. Which would be less than half of the PlayStation 4 and about 60% of what the Xbox 360 sold.
So that could initially be seen as a fail. But as we will see in the rest of this list of all Xbox consoles in order, the Xbox is still far from out.
Xbox One S (2016)
Xbox One S was a smaller iteration of the Xbox One, and was released in 2016.
The One S model saw giant leaps in the video capabilities for the Xbox, including support for HDR10 high-dynamic-range video, 4K video playback, and upscaling of games from 1080p to 4K.
Microsoft also offered the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition on April 16, 2019, which included the games Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves and Minecraft all preloaded on the device.
Xbox One X (2017)
The final iteration of the Xbox One would come in the form of the Xbox One X.
The high-end model of the Xbox One would feature many hardware spec improvements resulting in the best support for 4k gaming that Xbox users had seen.
It was reported that the new hardware improvements gave over 30% increase in performance.
The new hardware also had optimized power and cooling systems.
These new changes truly put Xbox at the top of the mountain when it came to performance at the tail end of the eighth-generation of games consoles.
The Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S (2020)
Microsoft launched their latest iteration of their home console franchise, The Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S, on November 10, 2020.
Microsoft wanted to continue their dual console approach established with the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, and opted to follow the same blueprint in their new set of home consoles.
As the names suggest, the Series S would be their smaller and more affordable unit and the Series X would be their more advanced hardware iteration.
The Series X would take advantage of all modern hardware capabilities, including higher display resolutions (up to 8K), higher frame rates, real-time ray tracing, and a high-speed solid-state drive (SSD) for faster loading times.
The Series S uses the same CPU as the Series X, but would be less expensive, is an all-digital unit (no cd drive), has a less powerful GPU, less memory and a smaller internal storage.
Both versions of the Xbox Series X/S have full Xbox One support of game titles, controllers and accessories.. as backwards compatibility is becoming standard for modern game consoles (yet another thing that Xbox is establishing as the norm).
As to be expected, many of Microsoft’s plans for launch and supporting press events experienced difficulties due to the Covid pandemic.
But the new Xbox consoles (along with the Nintendo Switch) have seem to have the least difficulties due to the chip shortage, and units have seem to be available while the new Playstation 5 has been almost entirely absent from the marketplace.
The Xbox Series X/S family have sold an estimated 8 million units since launch in 2020.
The current generation of home video game consoles is in a really weird place and has been in a sort of holding place due to the effects of Covid.
We are about two years into the ninth generation of video game consoles, but most homes have yet to even purchase one of the new consoles.
So the actual capabilities and possibilities of the Xbox Series X/S have yet to be fully tested.
Many are waiting to see what happens when units of the Xbox and Playstation are both more available… and when a better selection of game titles are available to test the limits for the consoles.
So it is safe to say that the jury is still out on the new Xbox Series X/S family.
But if we had to tally an early vote… seems like the response would be mostly positives.
Comparing the specs of the Playstation 5 to the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S… there are some advantages on both sides, but they all seem to hold similar capabilities.
The games are just not available yet, and the consoles just have not hit homes yet.
But I think we have yet to even see the best of what Microsoft will do with the Xbox franchise.
And with Microsoft making a ton of game studio acquisitions, the available titles in the next few years should absolutely blow our minds. I cannot wait.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.