The Xbox 360
is a video game console produced by Microsoft, developed
in cooperation with IBM, ATI, and SiS. Its Xbox Live service allows players
to compete online and download arcade games and content such as game demos,
trailers, TV shows, music videos, or rented movies. The Xbox 360 is the
successor to the Xbox, and competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's
Wii as part of the seventh generation of gaming systems.
The Xbox 360 was
officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game
information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
It is the first console to provide a near-simultaneous launch across the
three major regions, and to provide wireless controller support at launch.
The console sold out completely at release (with the exception of Japan)
and, as of September 30, 2007, 13.4 million units have been sold worldwide.
It is available in three versions as described below.
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg, Wmv
Known during development as Xenon, Xbox 2, Xbox FS,
Xbox Next or NextBox, the Xbox 360 was conceived in early
2003. In February
2003, planning for the Xenon software platform began, and was headed by
Microsoft VP J Allard.
That month, Microsoft held an event for 400 developers in Bellevue,
Washington, to recruit support for the system.
Also that month, Peter Moore, former president of Sega of America, joined
Microsoft. On August 12, 2003, ATI signed on to produce the graphic
processing unit for the new console, a deal which was publicly announced two
days later. The following month,
IBM signed on to develop the triple-core CPU for the console.
Before the launch of the Xbox 360, several alpha development kits were
spotted using Apple's Power Mac G5 hardware. This was due to the system's
PowerPC 970 processor running the same PowerPC architecture that the Xbox
360 would eventually run under IBM's Xenon processor.
The Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, in the United States and
Canada; December 2, 2005, in Europe and December 10, 2005, in Japan. It was
later launched in Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore,
Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, India, Brazil, Poland,
Czech Republic and Russia. Microsoft has additionally announced official
launches in: Hungary, Slovakia,
and the Philippines. In its
first year on the market, the system launched in 36 countries, more
countries than any console has launched in a single year.
Due to its early launch, the Xbox 360 has a one-year lead on both of its
competitors, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii.
Microsoft's retail strategy attempts to capture consumer surplus by
providing several configurations (SKU's) of the system in different price
ranges. The Xbox 360 is available in three standard variants; the "Xbox 360
Arcade", the "Xbox 360" and the "Xbox 360 Elite".
A discontinued SKU, the "Xbox 360 Core", was replaced by the "Xbox 360
Arcade" in October 2007.
At launch, the Xbox 360 was available in two configurations: the "Xbox
360" package, priced at US$399, and the "Xbox 360 Core", priced at US$299.
The Elite package was launched later at US$479, and the "Xbox 360 Arcade"
replaced the "Xbox 360 Core" in October 2007 at US$279. Prices have been
- The Xbox 360 Core was an entry level Xbox 360 priced at
US$279.99. The "Core" is no longer listed on Xbox.com, being replaced by
the Xbox 360 Arcade. It was
not originally available in Japan, but was later released on November 2,
2006. The Core
system comes bundled with composite video cables, capable of only SDTV
resolutions, but newer models with lot number 0728 or greater have an
HDMI 1.2 output. The Core may output HD signals up to 1080p when
connected to separately sold HDMI, Component, or VGA cables. It may also
use a separately sold 20 or 120 GB hard drive.
- The Xbox 360 Arcade,
priced at US$279.99,
is the replacement for the "Xbox 360 Core".
It was publicly revealed (though it was available in stores far earlier)
by Microsoft's president of Entertainment Devices devision Robbie Bach
to the Financial Times on October 18, 2007,
and officially announced on October 22, 2007.
It includes a wireless controller, 256 MB memory unit, composite AV
cable, HDMI 1.2 output, and 5 Xbox Live Arcade titles.
Holiday 2007 consoles, with packaging labeled "Go Play!", are bundled
with Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2,
Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno on a single disk, which
also includes a "Welcome Video" and several game trailers/demos.
- The Xbox 360, commonly called the Premium or Pro,
priced at US$349.99, includes all the features of the Xbox 360 Core, but
includes a hybrid composite and component cable with optional optical
out instead of a composite cable. The Xbox 360 also includes a
detachable 20 GB Hard Disc Drive to store Xbox Live Arcade games, game
demos, Xbox LIVE Marketplace TV and Movies, provide compatibility with
original Xbox games and store game data. The included hard drive comes
preloaded with game demos, video clips and a free Live Arcade game,
Hexic HD. In July 2007, this version of the Xbox 360 began appearing
with the Zephyr motherboard (the motherboard used in the Elite) which
features HDMI 1.2 output and an improved GPU heatsink. The Premium
package, which does include the HDMI 1.2 output, does not come with the
HDMI 1.2 cables. The
console's packaging displays the HDMI logo to reflect this addition.
Starting at the end of September, the newest systems were shipped with
the new "Falcon" motherboard, making the famous hardware failures a
thing of the past. On this new motherboard is the new 65-nm CPUs, making
them quieter and cooler than the older systems.
Holiday 2007 consoles, with packaging labeled "Go Pro", are bundled with
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Forza Motorsport 2.
- The Xbox 360 Elite is the fourth and most expensive variation
of the console. Priced at US$449.99, it is unique in that it includes a
120GB hard drive as standard, and a matte black finish. The Elite retail
package also includes an HDMI 1.2 cable and a controller and headset
matching the system's black finish.
Other matte black accessories, such as the Play and Charge Kit, are also
available. The initial release price was US$479.99,
£300.00 and AU$729.95. The Elite was released in Europe on August 24,
2007, and Australia on August 30. Holiday 2007 consoles, with packaging
labeled "Go Big", are bundled with Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and
Forza Motorsport 2.
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg, Wmv
On a few occasions, Microsoft has produced special editions of the
console, usually to coincide with the release of a major product. These
special editions are typically custom-colored Xbox 360 models, and are
produced in limited numbers.
- At the E3 2007 press conference, Microsoft announced the Halo
Special Edition of the console, released September 16, 2007. It sports a
Halo theme (on the console, wired headset, and wireless
controller). Besides the unique color scheme, its features are identical
to that of the Premium system.
It is priced at US$399.99 and £279.99 (the original price of the Xbox
- To promote The Simpsons Movie, Microsoft created a
specially-designed, yellow Xbox 360 console.
This configuration is based on the Xbox 360 Premium package, with the
only difference being the color scheme of the Xbox 360 console and
wireless controller. The console was to be given out to winner of
drawings taking place between July 18, 2007 and July 27, 2007, in which
a name was randomly drawn each day in the "10 Days and 10 Chances to
Win" sweepstakes. This
edition is limited, as 10 consoles were produced.
Comparison of features
Information in the table below is based on the latest specifications.
Older packaging may not include all items listed.
||Matte black, chrome trim
||Matte white, chrome trim
120 GB HDD
20 GB HDD
256 MB Memory Unit
Yes, Matte black
|Ethernet / System Link cable
|Xbox 360 Headset
Yes, Matte black
(excluding Oceania and Mexico where
a Media Remote is bundled instead)
|HDMI 1.2 equipped
after August 2007
|Included video cables
HDMI 1.2 (HD)
1 Month Gold trial, Silver
1 Month Gold trial, Silver
1 Month Gold trial, Silver
"Go Big" package:
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance,
Forza Motorsport 2,
"Go Pro" package:
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance,
Forza Motorsport 2,
Mexican "Premium" package:
Perfect Dark Zero,
Project Gotham Racing 3,
"Go Play" package:
Boom Boom Rocket,
Pac-Man Championship Edition,
On the day of the Xbox 360's release, Microsoft's online gaming service
Xbox LIVE was shut down for 24 hours and went through a major upgrade,
adding a basic non-subscription service, Silver, to its already established
premium subscription-based service. Xbox LIVE Silver is free of charge and
included with all SKUs of the console and allows users to create a user
profile, join on message boards, as well as access Microsoft's Xbox Live
Arcade and Marketplace and talk to other members.
An Xbox LIVE Silver account does not generally support multiplayer gaming;
however, some games that have rather limited online functions anyway (eg.
Viva Pinata) or games that feature their own subscription service (eg. EA
Sports games) can be played with a Silver account. Xbox LIVE supports voice
communication along with video communication, a feature possible with the
Xbox Live Vision; an add-on USB web camera designed specifically for the
Xbox 360. The Gamertag of a
player with a Silver account has a silver trim, rather than gold.
Xbox LIVE Gold has the same features as Silver, plus integrated online
game playing capabilities outside the third-party subscriptions previously
mentioned. Microsoft has allowed for previous Xbox LIVE subscribers to
maintain their profile information, friends list, and games history when
they make the transition to Xbox LIVE Gold. To transfer an Xbox LIVE account
to the new system, users need to link a Windows Live ID to their gamertag on
Xbox.com. When users go to add
an Xbox LIVE enabled profile to their console, they need to provide the
console with their passport account information and the last four digits of
their credit card number, which is used for verification purposes and
billing. An Xbox LIVE Gold account has an annual cost of US$49.99, C$59.99,
GB£39.99, or €59.99. As of July 11, 2007, Xbox LIVE has over 7 million
Xbox LIVE Marketplace
The Xbox LIVE Marketplace is a virtual market designed for the console
that allows Xbox LIVE users to download purchased or promotional content.
The service offers movie and game trailers, game demos, Xbox LIVE Arcade
games, gamertag images and Xbox 360 Dashboard themes as well as in-game
content (items, costumes, levels etc). These features are available to both
silver and gold members on Xbox Live. A hard drive or memory unit is needed
to store products purchased from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
In order to download priced content, users are required to purchase
Microsoft Points for use as scrip.
Some products are free to download. Users were able to view items available
to download on the service through a PC via the Xbox Live Pipeline website.
An estimated seventy percent of Xbox LIVE users download items from
Xbox Video Marketplace
On November 6, 2006, Microsoft announced Video Marketplace, an exclusive
video store accessible through the console. Launched in the United States on
November 22, 2006, the first anniversary of the Xbox 360 launch, the service
allows users in the United States to download high-definition and
standard-definition television shows and movies through Xbox LIVE onto an
Xbox 360 console for viewing. At launch the service offered 800 hours of
standard footage, and 200 hours of high definition. With the exception of
short clips, content is not currently available for streaming, and must be
downloaded. Microsoft has also announced that its Microsoft TV service will
add IPTV functionality to the console, giving users the ability to stream 2
simultaneous HD and 2 simultaneous SD channels.
Movies are available for rental. They expire in 14 days after download or at
the end of the first 24 hours after the movie has begun playing, whichever
comes first. Television episodes can be purchased to own, and are
transferable to an unlimited number of consoles. Downloaded files use 5.1
surround audio and are encoded using VC-1 for video at 720p, with a bitrate
of 6.8 Mbit/s.
Content is offered from MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Turner Broadcasting, CBS
for television; and Warner Bros., Paramount, and Disney for movies along
Video, Movie, Film, Clip. Mpeg, Wmv
After the Spring 2007 update, the following video codecs will also be
- H.264 video support: Up to 15 Mbit/s, Baseline, Main, and High (up
to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
- MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 8 Mbit/s, Simple Profile with 2
channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
During Microsoft Press Conference at E3 2007 on July 10, 2007 it was
announced that Xbox LIVE users in Europe and Canada would be able to use the
exclusive video store that is a major hit in the United States by the end of
Xbox LIVE Arcade
Xbox LIVE Arcade is an online service operated by Microsoft that is used
to distribute arcade video games to Xbox and Xbox 360 owners. In addition to
classic arcade games such as Ms. Pac-Man, the service offers some new
original games like Assault Heroes. In addition it features games
from other consoles, such as the PlayStation's Castlevania: Symphony of
the Night and PC games such as Zuma. The service was first
launched on November 3, 2004,,
using a DVD to load, and offered games for about US$5 to $15. Items are
purchased using Microsoft Points, a proprietary currency used to reduce
credit card transaction charges. On November 22, 2005, Xbox LIVE Arcade was
re-launched with the release of the Xbox 360, in which it was now integrated
with the Xbox 360's dashboard. The games are generally aimed toward more
casual gamers; examples of the more popular titles are Geometry Wars:
Retro Evolved, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting, and UNO.
The Xbox 360 supports videos in .wmv-format, as well as high-definition .wmv-videos,
H.264, MPEG-4, and Playsforsure WMV videos.
And with the Fall 2007 dashboard update, the Xbox 360 now supports the
playback of MPEG-4 ASP format videos (for example, encoded with DivX or Xvid).
The Xbox 360 also supports audio playback, with music player controls
accessible through the Xbox 360 Guide button. Users may play back their own
music while playing games or using the dashboard, and can even play music
along with an interactive visual synthesizer.
The Xbox 360 can also display pictures and perform slideshows of photo
collections with various transition effects. Users can also play audio in
the background while presenting a slideshow of photos.
Music, photos and videos can be played from standard USB mass storage
devices, Xbox 360 proprietary storage devices (such as memory cards or Xbox
360 hard drives), and servers or computers with Windows Media Center Edition
within the local-area network in streaming mode. This is possible with video
files up to HD-resolution and with several Codecs (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV) and
container formats (WMV, MOV, TS).
Microsoft tasked AKQA with creating the graphical user interface or GUI.
The console's GUI is the Xbox 360 Dashboard; a tabbed interface that
features five "Blades" (formerly only four blades). It can be launched
automatically when the console boots up without a disc, or when the disc
tray is ejected. However, the user may choose to launch a game automatically
if a disc is inserted. A simplified version of it can also be accessed at
any time via the Xbox Guide button on the gamepad. This simplified version
shows the user's gamercard, Xbox LIVE messages and friends list. It also
allows for personal and music settings, in addition to voice or video chats,
or returning to the primary Dashboard from the game.
Since the console's release, Microsoft has released several updates for
the Dashboard software. These updates have included adding new features to
the console; enhancing Xbox Live functionality and multimedia playback
cabilities; adding compatibility for new accessories; and fixing bugs in the
software. The latest Dashboard update, revision 2.0.6683, was made available
on December 4, 2007.
Microsoft XNA is a set of tools and technologies that includes XNA
Studio, which provides versions of key production tools such as asset
management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists. These tools
are designed to work together to automate common development tasks and
present interfaces tailored to the different functions within the team. John
Carmack stated at QuakeCon 2005 that the Xbox 360 has "the best development
environment I've seen on a console".
Microsoft XNA also includes other components such as the XNA Framework and
Anyone can develop a game using XNA Game Studio Express, an IDE for
homebrew developers, which was initially released in beta form on August 30,
2006. A second, near feature complete beta version was released on November
1, 2006. The final feature
complete version, 1.0, was released on December 11, 2006.
For a US$99/GB£65 yearly subscription fee users can join a "creators club"
which lets them transport code onto their 360 and share their content with
others. In the UK, there is also a 4 month subscription to the "Creators
[sic] Club" which costs £30 GBP.
Backward compatibility is achieved through software emulation of the
original Xbox. Emulated games offer graphical enhancements because they are
rendered in 720p, 1080i, or 1080p HD resolution with anti-aliasing enabled
rather than the Xbox standard of 480p
(anti-aliasing is also applied when the output resolution is 480p.) Some
games also benefit from an improvement in the rendered draw distance,
possibly due to the system's greater memory bandwidth. However there are
also games that do not perform well in emulation; these often exhibit a
lower framerate on the Xbox 360,
as well as various sound bugs and occasional gameplay glitches. A hard drive
and the downloading of an emulation profile is needed in order to play
original Xbox games. Updated emulation profiles are automatically obtained
through Xbox LIVE, or alternatively they can be burned to a CD with files
downloaded from Xbox.com, or by ordering a free update disc from Microsoft.
The full list of backward-compatible games is maintained at Xbox.com.
The current U.S. list includes 464 games as of the November 2007 update;
fewer titles are backward compatible in European and Japanese markets, with
295 and 101 titles, respectively. Microsoft has stated that they intend to
release more emulation profiles as they become available, with a goal of
making the entire Xbox library playable on the Xbox 360. They have since
made multiple statements indicating that this may never be complete, and the
rate of updates to the backwards compatibility list is in line with this
As part of the December 4 dashboard update, a new feature called Xbox
Originals was launched allowing people to download original Xbox games
directly to their Xbox 360. The games have not beeen altered in any way and
are available for 1200 Microsoft Points each.
The games that were available from the launch of the new service are:
Halo: Combat Evolved, Fable, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of
Cortex, Psychonauts, Indigo Prophecy, and Crimson
Skies: High Road to Revenge.
||Video game console
||Seventh generation era
||November 22, 2005 (details)
||Worldwide: 27.93 million (as of January
Add-on: HD DVD (discontinued)
||3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon
||20, 60 or 120 GB hard drive, 64, 256 or 512 MB
||500 MHz ATI Xenos
||4 maximum (wired, wireless, or combination of
||3 × USB 2.0, IR port, 100 Mbit Ethernet, Add-on:
||Halo 3, 8.1 million (as of March,
|478 original Xbox games
(requires hard drive and the latest
The Xbox 360 launched with a number of games. The console's best-selling
game for 2005, Call of Duty 2, sold over a million copies.
Five other games sold as well in the console's first year in the market:
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter,
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,
Dead or Alive 4,
Saints Row and Gears of
War. As of November 30,
2007, Halo 3 is the Xbox 360's best-selling game with 5 million
copies sold. First-party
developer Rare had two games at launch: Perfect Dark Zero and
Kameo: Elements of Power. Only six games were initially offered in
Japan, and eagerly anticipated titles like Dead or Alive 4 and
Enchanted Arms were not released until several weeks after launch. Games
more suitable to the region are planned or have since been released, such as
Chromehounds, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Phantasy Star
Universe. Microsoft-backed Mistwalker has since released Blue Dragon
in the region, and currently has two other Japanese-style games in
development, Lost Odyssey and Cry On. On October 19, 2006,
over 10,000 pre-orders of a limited-edition Blue Dragon bundle sold
out in Japan on the first day. The pack, priced at JP¥29,800 includes the
Xbox 360 core system with a copy of Blue Dragon, along with a table
calendar, Blue Dragon faceplate, and five miniature character figures. At
the Lepzig game convention in 2007, Microsoft revealed details of PGR4, Rock
Band, Tom Clancy's EndWar, Dark Sector, FIFA 08, Call of Duty 4 Modern
Warfare and Tony Hawk's Proving Ground.
E3 2006 was the first large-scale show after the console's launch and the
first trailer for Halo 3, the sequel to the original Xbox's
best-selling game, was shown there. Fable 2, a sequel to the Xbox's
best-selling RPG, was also shown, along with Alan Wake,
Mass Effect and Too Human. Bill Gates spoke of plans to integrate
several Microsoft services into one entity with Live Anywhere. This service
will allow multiplayer games and communication possible between Xbox 360 and
the Windows Vista operating system for the PC. Shadowrun was the
first game announced to be compatible with Live Anywhere. Several games
originally released on PC have also been released on the Xbox 360, such as
F.E.A.R. and Quake 4. Grand Theft Auto IV was shown and
will be the first title in the series to be released for the Xbox 360 the
same day as its PlayStation 3 counterpart. At X06, Microsoft announced new
titles, along with information on future releases. Splinter Cell:
Conviction, set to release after Splinter Cell: Double Agent, was
announced to be exclusive to the Xbox 360, as were BioShock and
Banjo-Kazooie 3. At the event, Halo Wars was also announced,
along with an untitled Halo project. Microsoft published sequels to some of
its more successful franchises on the original Xbox, such as Forza
Motorsport 2, Project Gotham Racing 3 & 4, and Fuzion
Frenzy 2. In addition to sequels, they have published original games
based on new IPs such as Viva Piñata and Gears of War.
Hardware and accessories
The main unit of the Xbox 360 itself has slight double concavity
in matte white or black. It features a port on the top (when vertical, left
side when horizontal) to which a custom-housed hard drive unit can be
attached in sizes of either 20, or 120 GB. Inside, the Xbox 360 uses
the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU. Graphics processing is
handled by the ATI Xenos which has 10 MB of embedded eDRAM. Its main memory
pool is 512 MB in size.
Many accessories are available for the console including both wired and
wireless controllers, a wireless steering wheel, headsets, a webcamera, an
HD DVD player, two sizes of memory cards, two sizes of hard drives, among
other items, all of which are styled to match the console.
The Xbox 360 can be subject to a number of possible technical problems.
Since the console's release in 2005, the console's reliability gained a bad
reputation from the general public, and in the press through articles
portraying its poor reliability and relatively high failure rates.
Microsoft has subsequently introduced design revisions, and extended the
360's manufacturer's warranty to three years.
As of September, 2007, all Xbox 360's manufactured after this period is
equiped with the new Falcon motherboard. This motherboard has a revised
design and construction making room for the new 65nm CPU and CPU/GPU cooling
system. Making it more quiet and reliable than before. Microsoft claims that
with this new version that all hardware failures are now a bad memory.
The Xbox 360 began production only 69 days before launch.
As a result, Microsoft was not able to supply enough systems to meet initial
consumer demand in Europe or North America.
Many potential customers were not able to purchase a console at launch. This
lack of availability caused Xbox 360 bundles to sell on eBay at inflated
prices; some auctions exceeded US$6,000. Forty thousand units appeared on
eBay during the initial week of release; this was 10% of the total supply.
By year's end, Microsoft had shipped 1.5 million units, including 900,000 in
North America, 500,000 in Europe, and 100,000 in Japan.
At E3 in May 2006, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft would have a head
start of 10 million units by the time Sony and Nintendo enter the market.
Microsoft later specified that goal and estimated shipments of 10 million
units by the end of 2006, a
target it passed by 400,000 units. As of August 2007, the Xbox 360 has sold 8.9
million units worldwide. As of September 1, 2007, 6.3 million Xbox 360 units
have been sold to consumers in the United States, and as of July 18, 2007, 420,000 units in Japan. Although the console had struggled in Japan, it has
just recently outsold the PS3 for its first week in Japan.
During an earnings call in January 2007, Microsoft's CFO downgraded
estimated Xbox 360 sales for the first half of 2007.Cumulative sales from the system's launch until
June 30, 2007 were predicted to reach 12 million units, down from 13 to 15
million units estimated earlier. Microsoft later announced they shipped 11.6
million units cumulative to June 30, 2007. On October 4,
2007, Microsoft stated that Xbox 360 sales have more than doubled when
compared with the weekly average before the Halo 3 launch.
Being released one year ahead of its competitors,
the Xbox 360 was the market leader throughout the first half of 2007.
However on September 12, 2007, it was reported by the Financial Times that
the Xbox 360 had been surpassed by the Wii in terms of worldwide console
Based on figures from October 19, 2007, the Xbox 360 outsold the Wii for
the month of September in North America, helped in part by the spike in
sales seen after the launch of Halo 3, which sold 3.3 million copies
in the U.S. in a 12-day period. The Xbox had sales of 528,000 units for
September, while the Wii had sales of 501,000 units.
However, despite these sales figures, Microsoft's gaming division is
losing money. Up to 2005, the Xbox gaming division had lost over $4 billion
dollars. However, Microsoft
expects the console will start making money in 2008.
The losses are due to the market strategy of selling consoles below cost in
order to obtain market saturation and turn a profit on software and
peripherals that have a much higher profit margin.
Also notable is that Microsoft expects it needs to spend one billion dollars
for repairs or replacements of bricked Xbox 360s
Free60 is the successor to the Xbox Linux Project that put Linux,
BSD, or Darwin on the new Xbox 360. The dashboard released on January 9,
2007 (version 2.0.4552) might hinder installation of current sold units.