It was a year ago today, that Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, the successor to the Xbox 360 and the platform on which it’s pinning its hopes in the living room. When it launched on November 22nd of last year, the Xbox One cost $499. For that price, users got a single wireless controller, a power adapter, a chat headset and an HDMI cable. Today, the cheapest Xbox One is $399 and holiday sales have pushed it even lower. Dozens of bundles have come and gone. So have priorities.
Here’s a look back at the first year of Xbox One.
Rumors are swirling that Microsoft is ready to announce its next console. Microsoft sets a press conference for May. Weeks before, Xbox Tent shows up on Twitter. Before and during the event someone inside the company teases the coming announcement from the point of view of the tent itself. We never found out who the Xbox Tent really was.
Microsoft’s Don Mattrick giving the press and media a look at the newly revealed Xbox One entertainment console. Months later, Mattrick was gone, having moved to Zynga. Eventually, he’s replaced by Phil Spencer. Spencer ran the console’s first-party studios for years before.
Microsoft spent months talking about the Xbox One’s look and how it designed the console. It designed many of the components in hardware shops like this on its campus.
Microsoft shows up to E3 2013 completely unprepared for detailed questions about game sharing and used game sales. The company confirms that every Xbox One game ever purchased will be installed on the console’s hard drive, so that users don’t need to switch discs. It’s also revealed that the Xbox One requires daily check-ins to ensure users still own their games. Sony counters by creating a video that shows how PlayStation 4 users can expect to share games. There’s only one step in the video: a handoff. Microsoft goes quiet for weeks while it seemingly wraps its head around the backlash coming from all sides.
Microsoft ends is self-imposed silence by releasing graphics containing official information. For a console launch that’s plagued by lack of communication, these new graphics explaining how things work are a welcome change.
Before release, Microsoft’s Major Nelson wets appetites with a video unpacking the Xbox One Day One Edition. That console included a monogrammed controller and special achievement.
With the Xbox One’s launch day quickly coming, Microsoft starts showing off software features like app and media Pins for more personalization.
Microsoft starts sharing reasons why the Xbox One costs more than PlayStation 4 when Xbox Fitness gets detailed. It relies on the Xbox One’s Kinect sensor to function. Like some fitness apps on the Xbox 360, Xbox Fitness gets users a full body workout with better tracking and heart rate monitoring. Microsoft says Xbox Fitness be free for the first year to Xbox Live Gold users.
Microsoft starts taking feedback personally. After being bashed for not including a chat headset and requiring the Kinect 2 sensor, the company reverses course on both. It’s revealed that users won’t have to connect to the internet every twenty-four hours to play the games they’ve purchased. Kinect is also not a requirement for the console to work.
Microsoft introduces ID@Xbox, a program that empowers small teams to create games and have them show up in the Xbox One store along games from bigger firms Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a game that would have been considered an Xbox Live Arcade title on the Xbox 360. On the Xbox One, it’s simply a game. Microsoft would later say that every Xbox One had the potential to be a development machine.
Microsoft finally confirms the Xbox One will arrive on store shelves on November 22nd. People have been able to pre-order the machine for $499 for months already.
The NFL and Microsoft sign a partnership and suddenly Microsoft starts talking about NFL on Xbox One and how it’ll be the only console with an official NFL presence. Today, the NFL on Xbox One app can even be configured to update users every time their favorite teams score.
Being able to watch videos or play music on the Xbox One becomes crucial when Microsoft first shows off app snapping.
Microsoft invites users to the next-generation gaming party with a new ad showing everyday users being drawn in by Titans and more.
Microsoft kicks off the Xbox One Tour. It hits up public venues, college campuses and retailers pushing the Xbox One’s features and games.
Xbox One launch hits its full stride with television commercials showing off the live television, app switching, voice command and auto-login features. The favorite seems to be the His and Her Xbox One ad. It includes a rallying cry for female gamers everywhere, “Boyfriend, go to the store.”
Microsoft thanks fans for supporting it over the years with free consoles and prize packs. The company kicks up a frenzy when everyone who has ever picked up an Xbox or Xbox game wonders why they too didn’t get a prize pack.
Launch day arrives and Microsoft holds events worldwide. The company sets up this giant Xbox One logo in London.
Scenes from the Xbox One launch event in Australia, captured by Microsoft.
Armored trucks deliver Xbox One consoles in New York City, captured by Game Informer.
Day One buyers with their Day One Edition Xbox One consoles.
With the console now on store shelves and in homes, Microsoft begins to rapidly evolve its software. Pictured above is the first shipping version of the Xbox One software. By November of 2014, the company has added hundreds of features and prioritizes them with the help from the community. External hard drive support, DLNA media streaming and custom backgrounds are all features added in monthly updates.
Titanfall becomes the first blockbuster game to launch on the Xbox One exclusively. The game garners a lot of attention but doesn’t significantly boost the Xbox One’s sales.
With slow sales, Microsoft catches bundling fever. Initially, all systems come with Forza Motorsport 5. Xbox Ones have come with free digital copies of Titanfall, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Madden NFL 15, FIFA 14 and Assassin’s Creed Unity
The Xbox One launches with a pretty basic YouTube app, but in time that app is updated with voice controls and more. The company then gears up for its E3 2014 briefing by announcing a huge slate of coming entertainment apps. TuneIn, Crackle and HBO Go are among the apps coming soon or available today on the Xbox One.
Since the beginning, Microsoft has shipped the Xbox One with a Kinect 2 sensor to enable entertainment and motion gaming for all. In the lead up to 2014, Microsoft introduces a $399 Xbox One without a Kinect 2 sensor included.
The Xbox One and Xbox 360 have always needed an Xbox Live subscription to use entertainment apps. Microsoft announces that it’ll end that requirement almost immediately. Updates for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 remove Live as a requirement. Microsoft then kicks off a free games program for Xbox One owners with an Xbox Live Gold account.
Halo The Master Chief Collection is among the games that Microsoft reveals at E3 2014. It’s an epic arrival for the Xbox One for the fall and winter. Microsoft skips talk about features and changes. Instead, its entire press conference consists of games.
A change in the software that powers the Xbox One, lets developers deactiviate the Kinect 2 sensor’s gesture support so that their games have more power. Destiny becomes one of the first games to use that extra power.
The Xbox One becomes the only console that offers EA Access, a subscription gaming service from Electronic Arts. For less than two cups of coffee a month, EA Access gives Xbox One owners digital games like Madden NFL 25 and discounts. Sony’s PlayStation 4 console still doesn’t offer the service.
Sunset Overdrive becomes the first game to get a special edition console bundle. Internally, the console is identical to every black Xbox One. On the outside, it’s white with a matching controller.
Microsoft slashes the price on every Xbox One console bundle for the holidays by $50, bringing the lowest price Xbox One console to $349. The Xbox One with Kinect 2 sensor now costs $449 for a limited time. Microsoft announces in November 2014 that its sold 10 million Xbox Ones to retailers.