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Opinion Trailer Hardware GamingBolt: What Made the Xbox 360 One Hell of a Console?

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

Think back to where the games industry was a decade and a half ago. PlayStation was king- the PS2 had outsold every single one of its competitors on a scale that's ridiculous to think about even today, a bunch of major third parties made games exclusively for PlayStation, and the brand dominated mindshare like nothing else did. It was almost a monopoly, driven by what is the most successful console ever made, even to this day. In other words, when you thought gaming, at that time, you thought PlayStation.

Toppling its dominance should have been an impossible task, but it was one that the Xbox 360 managed nonetheless. And it was, no doubt, helped by Sony's own bad decisions and failures with the PS3, especially in the earlier years of the console's life- but that doesn't take away from the fact that during the Xbox 360 years, Microsoft were absolutely on fire, and with it, they delivered what is likely always going to be remembered as one of the greatest consoles of all time. And their success with it was multifaceted.

Absolute amazing console. Great hardware (despite the red lights), amazing controller, easy use of party groups and social communications, the arcade weekly release with demo.... one of the best systems I ever had.
 

Mr Hyde

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Jun 1, 2018
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Easy to develop for, nice form factor, pushing online to the next level and some AAA top tier games (and indies) on the forefront. Never owned one myself but most of my friends went with Xbox during this generation so I played a lot with it. MS was on a winning streak at the time. Crazy how hard they face planted with their next console.
 

radewagon

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Coming out first. Lower price point. Easier to develop for. Nothing particularly special about it, really. Just in the right place when Sony fumbled hard.
 
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Dane

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Everything: Price, Xbox Live Marketplace, easy to develop hardware, massive third party support that made mostly playstation franchises go multiplatform (the meltdown over FFXIII), exclusives and indies.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Great system. Games, price, online, ease of use. Hardly any games need to be installed.

Just run it straight off the disc. I milked a 20gb Pro system till 2012. Somehow that was enough for dashboard updates, patches, saved games, lots of XBLA and XBLIG games, map packs, and still had HDD to spare.

That pack in dollar store quality headset was crap though. The foam ripped.
 

Crew511A

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Apr 1, 2021
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XBL was, and still is, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the other online console infrastructures. For my tastes, Halo 3 and Gears of War were killer apps. But new dev teams just couldn't manage to recapture the magic.

MS was hungry, and Sony was sloppy. It was like 1995 all over again, except this time Sony was the one going through the motions with Saturn
 

TheGrat1

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Great games and great features. That is all it takes, really.
And I don’t care what anyone says, I still miss the original dashboard blades!
 

Corgi1985

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Developers gave a shit and released new ips and it was the start of HD games.

Now we get bland sequels or recycled tropes for franchises established during that gen over 10 years ago.
 

bender

Bending Rodríguez (22, 1,729)
Apr 12, 2010
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Sony fucking up by coming at a year later with a $100-200 more expensive console and not really releasing much worthwhile for the first year gave Microsoft a 2-year head start.
 

Shmunter

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You know it’s good when I keep coming back after 4 rrods.

Not sure if mentioned in vid, but WMC was a highlight for me for livetv. It blew any consumer dvr solution out of the water at the time. And tv was much more of a thing back than.
 
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small_law

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Legend has it that some dude named Cliff told J. Allard that if devs didn’t have at least 512 MB of RAM to work with, UE3 games would run like shit. So that’s what they did. And surprise surprise, Skyrim on Xbox 360 would keep plugging along hours after the PS3 version would start stuttering and crash.
 
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93xfan

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Feb 23, 2013
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Coming out first. Lower price point. Easier to develop for. Nothing particularly special about it, really. Just in the right place when Sony fumbled hard.

I think if you add in the Xbox Marketplace and how well that was handled, the game invite system, party chat system, Xbox Arcade, and Achievements, you can see that it truly was a revolutionary system. D pad sucked though.
 
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kanjobazooie

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May 29, 2021
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The last console (and gen) that had games that blew my mind. 😢
These years when games actually started to look and feel larger than life were special.

I mean, games are amazing today, but the PS360 era basically forecasted them for us.
 

8BiTw0LF

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Jun 5, 2013
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X360 wasn't developer friendly with it's PowerPC - it was just a hell lot easier compared to the Cell processor in PS3.

X360 had very good launch titles, a great controller and the best online experience across the board.
 

ZywyPL

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Nov 27, 2018
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Everything except RROD and paid online was just well thought out and executed, it was really a console made with gamers in mind in the first place, with a clear vision of people connected together, X360baaically lied the foundation of where games and the market is today.
 

ZehDon

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Jun 13, 2013
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I mean, pick your poison: the Xbox 360 at its peak is legitimately one of the best consoles of all time.

For me, it was that the Xbox 360 took what I loved about the OG Xbox and cranked every single aspect of it up to eleven. It looked the goods - its clean white finish made it clear that this was something different to the OG. It's controller was so fucking good that, two generation on, no one has really managed to improve on it. There was a clear jump from the OG Xbox to the titles that launched the Xbox 360. Gears of War seemed impossible when it first launched. Oblivion felt like a technological miracle. DOA4 looked perfect. The idea of Xbox Live, at first a neat addition to the OG, felt a big jump forward into the future and was basically mandatory. The UI looked slick a hell, too. That blades UI was functional, tidy, and colourful. Turning on the 360 for the first time, and it was clear that next gen had arrived, and Microsoft had brought the good stuff.

Sure, the RROD sucked, but Microsoft foot the bill, so although I lost my launch 360, it was a week-long inconvenience as opposed to a complete brand-killing show stopper. Fingers crossed we're heading back into Xbox as a brand reaching these heights again, because it was Microsoft that lit a fire under Sony's ass and forced them to make the PS3 a console worth owning. Everyone benefitted.
 

Md Ray

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Nov 12, 2016
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I've just started reading the book 'The Xbox 360 Uncloaked' after finishing 'The Race for a New Game Machine' written by former IBM engineer, David Shippy, who had a major hand in designing the PS3's Cell chip as well as Xbox 360's custom PowerPC core. Really fascinating stuff.
 
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Urban

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May 20, 2021
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It was a very good console and i loved the time! BUT before the huge update came, where you could install the games from the DVD, i couldn't play a single game. it was just too loud! To be clear: I was a student at that time and my 360 was on the desk.

Edit: I had the Rrod 4 times :D
 
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makaveli60

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This was the best period in my gaming life. I was always behind with years with the ps1 and ps2 and my pc was always weak, playing Doom 3 with 1 fps etc. Then in the summer of 2006 I got a 360 and every single new game I played on it was like a miracle. The original dashboard is still the GOAT and everything was just amazing. It was NEXTGEN and I have been looking for that feeling always since then but never had it again. Well, the PS5 could come relatively close to it if it had more real nextgen games but the industry was very different back then
 
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EruditeHobo

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Jun 5, 2013
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Absolute amazing console. Great hardware (despite the red lights), amazing controller, easy use of party groups and social communications, the arcade weekly release with demo.... one of the best systems I ever had.

Yep, that's about it. 1st out of the gate, strong exclusives, great controller, really ahead of its time online service in terms of what was offered and in terms of ease of use/functionality... it took Sony a long, long time to catch up to that. Sure, HD DVD vs blu-ray was one of the lower points of comparison, even early in the generation, and yes by the end when their killer exclusives caught up PS3 was frankly better. But it's a credit to MS that 360 held on for a good many years there.

Loved my 360. I remember being a little bit sad when I eventually made the decision to get the multiplats on PS3... it was like saying goodbye to a friend that was moving away. :messenger_crying:
 
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Three

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The early years of 360 were some of the best. Mass effect, bioshock, the best Halos, even games like limbo. Its later life were dark times though where they stopped releasing games and concentrated on kinect.
 

EruditeHobo

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Edit: I had the Rrod 4 times :D

I had my system since... I want to say maybe February or March after the launch. So I guess 2006. Never saw RROD. System never had a serious issue for years and years. It's still in the closet, feel like I could bring it out and boot it up and it would still work. That thing was a trooper for me.

Same thing with my PS3, went years while all my friends were mailing their consoles to Sony and having them be repaired. I literally ended up getting the red light on it maybe 2 years ago, and it was rendered irreparable. Same old thicc original sku that I got whenever MGS4 came out. Never upgraded to slim... never had to.

Considering the stories, I was pretty lucky with that console generation I guess.
 
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anthony2690

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In my personal opinion, I think because it was the first mainstream online gaming console.
Literally everyone I knew had a 360 and Xbox live, it was new and exciting for most of us and everyone had access too it.

Where as with dreamcast or original Xbox, I didn't know a single person that played them online.

I think that is one of the biggest contributions to the 360s success.
 

SkylineRKR

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The price. Even I went 360 while being a long time Playstation gamer. It was simply the price. And the fact they were a year earlier helped too. They offered next-gen already and it was also known that they would do so at a far lower entry price. I really liked the 360 in its maiden year. It was the first time I played online on a console. I played stuff like PGR3, DoA4, Halo 2, PDZ and GRAW online. Oblivion was another impressive release, as was the frightening Condemned. Dead Rising was cool, and Gears of War was great to co-op and initially PvP. There was also a fix of niche games like Blue Dragon, Eternal Sonata, Chromehounds etc. Even fucking Ridge Racer 6.

But I got a series of RROD, which resulted in me not trusting the system anymore. And I started to miss the Playstation portfolio. Xbox doubled down on their pillars Halo, Forza and Gears and pretty much axed the rest. I think them killing off PGR was the last straw for me. I hated where they were going and Sony slashed the PS3 price big time so I jumped ship. And I guess playing online of no charge for the remaining 5 or 6 years was pretty cool.

Its incomparable to today. You could see video reviews at like 480p on PC. Everything looked great when booted up on your own set. The TV's they tried to forcefeed us were shit in hindsight, but the 720p upgrade was impressive regardless. Nearly everything released looked true next-gen. Like Kameo, PGR3, PDZ, DoA4, Condemned, RR6 you name it. They weren't cross gen. Everything at least felt fresh and was impressive. I was amazed by the scale of Kameo, and the cockpit view of PGR, how Condemned's FP immersed me and the wall textures of PDZ.
 
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nush

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A long haul flight from wherever you are.
Sure, the RROD sucked, but Microsoft foot the bill, so although I lost my launch 360, it was a week-long inconvenience as opposed to a complete brand-killing show stopper.

My contacts at Microsoft personally took care of me in that regard. I was way out of the area that Microsoft would provide after sales support to (China), my 360 died within 6 months of my arrival even though it had been perfectly fine for a year before. I've no doubt that was because it was much hotter in China than the UK. Anyway, I emailed my contacts and they just shipped a replacement out to me. That console lasted just a year, so I emailed again, and again they shipped me a replacement console.

Then a short time afterwards they sent me an email saying they had a PAL console they found when cleaning up the office and as nobody in the Redmond office wanted it (Because it was PAL) would I like to have it? Sure! They shipped it to me and then of course my second replacement console crapped out just a few months later.

Anyway after 3 replacements the hardware revision version was out and I picked up the bargain bin "Shit we made too many of these things" of the Star Wars 360 version that still works to this day. They took care of me well and so I didn't go back to the well after 3 free replacement consoles. They went above and beyond to take care of me when I really needed it.
 
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Yoboman

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Id say J Allan and Peter Moore just "got it". It was evident on Xbox but even moreso on 360. They saw the weaknesses of the competition and exploited that as strengths of Xbox. They recognised a need to take on PS in every genre.

And when they had momentum they didn't let up - instead dealing killer moments like FFXIII and GTA on Xbox. And they didn't do it with a Mr nice guy attitude. If Peter Moore bought Bethesda he would have both arms and both legs tatoo'd with every game they own. As a Playstation guy it pissed me off but I respect the hustle

They also just managed to create a cool factor for the system that is very hard to create for any brand, particularly one with Microsoft branding

Yeah Sony fucking up helped big time, but Xbox 360 was making all the right moves anyway. Its too bad they fucked it all up with Kinect and Xbox One. An Xbox 360 follow up by the Allard/Moore teams against the PS4 doing so much right would have been a hell of a gen
 
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Invalid GR

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Apr 4, 2012
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The things that made all successful consoles succeed across all generations:

1) It's all about the GAMES

2) Pricing

3) Ease of development

4) In the case of X360 actual online implementation built in the system.

2,3,4 = it's all about the GAMES.
 

SkylineRKR

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Id say J Allan and Peter Moore just "got it". It was evident on Xbox but even moreso on 360. They saw the weaknesses of the competition and exploited that as strengths of Xbox. They recognised a need to take on PS in every genre.

And when they had momentum they didn't let up - instead dealing killer moments like FFXIII and GTA on Xbox. And they didn't do it with a Mr nice guy attitude. If Peter Moore bought Bethesda he would have both arms and both legs tatoo'd with every game they own. As a Playstation guy it pissed me off but I respect the hustle

They also just managed to create a cool factor for the system that is very hard to create for any brand, particularly one with Microsoft branding

Yeah Sony fucking up helped big time, but Xbox 360 was making all the right moves anyway. Its too bad they fucked it all up with Kinect and Xbox One. An Xbox 360 follow up by the Allard/Moore teams against the PS4 doing so much right would have been a hell of a gen

The painful thing was for me, as a Wii hater (I did see its appeal but I didn't like a lot of its games), was that their initial move to casual worked out. Kinect saw strong initial demand so Microsoft doubled down on this shit. Alienating core gamers like me. But I knew it was temporary. PS3 saw a rise with core games and overtook Xbox with the Slim relaunch. When Xbox One was announced I knew MS would fail. They pushed non-gaming features and forcefeeded kinect while the motion controls hype had died down, jacking up the price with 100 bucks. Sony meanwhile had an exceptional strong twilight year with the PS3, they kept releasing good games for it until the PS4 was launched. And in hindsight the Move being so irrelevant and just a cheap peripheral was a blessing for Sony. I made the right choice.

But between 2006 and 2008 the Xbox was clearly the most bang for your buck. And that was the J Allard and Peter Moore era. You could say it was a generation with 2 faces.
 
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Yoboman

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Instead of giving up they recognized what had gone wrong and repurposed the Xbox One as a test-bed for the feature set of the current gen Xbox consoles.
I agree with that

I think Series X is so much better than how they started Xbox One

The thing they lack today IMO is a certain brand appeal and cool factor they really nailed for the branding and marketing of Xbox 360. They made it a must own item, whereas I feel like Series X is portrayed a bit more PC like, impersonal and clinical in its branding like you'd get for the latest surface laptop
 

jroc74

Phone reception is more important to me than human rights
Jun 1, 2013
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The things that made all successful consoles succeed across all generations:

1) It's all about the GAMES

2) Pricing

3) Ease of development

4) In the case of X360 actual online implementation built in the system.

2,3,4 = it's all about the GAMES.
Agree with all this.

I think we take ease of development for granted when it comes to games, but it does make a difference.
 

Yoboman

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Agree with all this.

I think we take ease of development for granted when it comes to games, but it does make a difference.
PS3 vs 360 was where it showed up big time

I still remember how long it took for PS3 games to ramp up and get starting released on the regular. And how long it took for PS3 to start getting games equal to 360 versions just because of how long it took devs to figure out PS3
 

nush

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I agree with that

I think Series X is so much better than how they started Xbox One

The thing they lack today IMO is a certain brand appeal and cool factor they really nailed for the branding and marketing of Xbox 360. They made it a must own item, whereas I feel like Series X is portrayed a bit more PC like, impersonal and clinical in its branding like you'd get for the latest surface laptop

Agree, Microsoft marketing isn't on point with the core audience for that product. Everybody wants to be Apple.