Xbox - A Dying Breed?

With all of the fallout from the ill-fated launch of the upcoming Xbox One (and that's even before the new model hits the stands), it's a good time to look back at the Xbox family as a whole, and ask - what next?

This article is not really about the turbulent road to launch of the Xbox One itself, but the way the next-generation console has been greeted by fans suggests that it is unlikely to achieve the success seen by, for example, the PS2.

And it's actually surprising that Microsoft have managed to get it so wrong, by taking a perfectly good product family and locking it down with so many user controls that nobody actually wants to play the thing.

The original Xbox was launched back in late 2001 and early 2002, depending on where in the world you were, and it wasn't long before it became possible to use the console as a home entertainment system, with DVD playback support.

It was a good all-round console, with traditional methods of controlling the games - there was even the option of wireless controllers, if you wanted, but nothing felt as gimmicky as, for example, the Nintendo Wii did when it launched.

The original Xbox lasted for a decent length of time, eventually being retired in 2007-08, by which time its successor had been on the market for several years.

The Xbox 360 looks and feels like an Xbox, with recognisable controllers and console styling, and that helped with continuity for fans of the original device.

Backwards compatibility also helped, as original Xbox games could also be played on the Xbox 360 - effectively meaning it was possible to buy the console alone, and already have a decent selection of titles to play on it.

Early reports are that backwards compatibility will not be available on the Xbox One, which seems like a shame, as those who buy it will be starting from scratch - a move that seems like one in the eye for long-term supporters of the brand.

The Xbox 360 was, of course, also the platform on which Kinect, Microsoft's motion-sensitive control platform, was introduced; and this is a truly significant technological advance that has led to some ingenious hacks (of the good kind) online.

Unlike the motion-sensitive Wii, Kinect does not need you to hold a wireless controller or remote; instead, it simply tracks your body as you move, and allows you to act as the controller.

Early reports relating to the Xbox One stated that all games would require Kinect activation - but again, this was something that some gamers objected to, and recent updates from Microsoft seem to suggest a stand-down on that measure as well.

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