Today, March 10, marks the anniversary of the date Microsoft's Bill Gates first introduced the company's game console initiative to the world with the unveiling of the original Xbox at the 2000 Game Developers Conference.
At the time of Gates' demonstration, Microsoft faced a daunting market that had just seen the PlayStation 2 launch in Japan. Yet there was also a vacuum opening in the wake of the Dreamcast's poor sales and just ahead of Sega's ultimate exit from the console space for good.
The Xbox launched in North America on November 15, backed by Bungie's Halo
, a bold move considering that, at the time, first-person shooters were largely considered the domain of PC gaming (save for Nintendo 64's now-classic Goldeneye
). The franchise would go on to define the platform and Microsoft's console gaming efforts in general.
The hardware's launch was also categorized by its general failure to appeal to Japanese audiences, who were not easily swayed from their PlayStation brand loyalty nor by the Western-centric branding of the device and gameplay style of Halo
When Microsoft last released sales figures for the original Xbox in 2006 (the year it was discontinued), it claimed 16 million units sold worldwide. Most of those sales came from North America, with 6 million reportedly sold in Europe and 2 million in Asia.
Ten year's after the original's unveiling, the successor Xbox 360 now enjoys a very different position in the market. Microsoft claims a worldwide install base of over 50 million Xbox 360 units, and its most recent hardware evolution, the gesture-based Kinect, has reportedly sold 10 million units of hardware and software
since its launch last November.