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Overview

The Xbox 360, the second video game console from Microsoft Corporation, was officially unveiled on May 12, 2005 during a special presentation show that aired live on MTV.

Co-Developed with IBM, ATI, and Silicon Integrated Systems, the Xbox 360 uses the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU, ATI Xenos which has 10 MB of embedded eDRAM as the graphics processor and has a main memory pool of 512 MB. Development of the Xbox 360 began in early 2003, a year and a half after the original Xbox release.

New Xbox 360 logo

Following the official unveil on MTV, Microsoft announced launch dates at its 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference. Launching in North America on November 22, 2005, December 2, 2005 in Europe, and December 12, 2005 in Japan, the Xbox 360 has gone on to sell more than 76 million units as of February 11, 2013

Launch

North America - November 22, 2005

  • Amped 3
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • FIFA 06: Road to the FIFA World Cup
  • GUN
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Madden NFL 06
  • NBA 2K6
  • NBA Live 06
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • NHL 2K6
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Quake 4
  • Ridge Racer 6
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Europe - December 2, 2005

  • Amped 3
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • FIFA 06: Road to the FIFA World Cup
  • GUN
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Madden NFL 06
  • NBA Live 06
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Quake 4
  • Tetris: The Grand Master Ace
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Japan - December 10, 2005

  • Every Party
  • FIFA 06: Road to the FIFA World Cup
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Ridge Racer 6
  • Tetris: The Grand Master Ace

Current SKUs

Xbox 360 S 250 GB

Xbox 360 S

The New Xbox 360 Announced at E3 2010 this smaller console features 802.11n wifi built in and a 250GB hard drive. It is also Kinect ready, meaning that the camera will be powered by the console and does not need a separate power supply like the older consoles do. Microsoft also claims that the system will run quieter than previous versions, dubbed "Whisper quiet". The new console will retail for $299.99 and began shipping to retailers June 14, 2010. All previous versions of the Xbox 360 have been reduced by 50 dollars.This model was updated in late 2012 to include the pack in game Forza 4 and a download code for Elder scrolls V: Skyrim. A

As an interesting note at the end of their E3 conference Microsoft also announced that all those in attendance would be getting a free new Xbox 360 S (later received in the mail).

Xbox 360 S 250 GB Kinect Bundle

On November 16, 2010 Microsoft release a bundle of a standard 250 gigabyte Xbox 360 came with the motion camera system Kinect and a copy of Kinect Adventures. It retailed for $399.99.

Xbox 360 S 4 GB

The 4 gigabyte Xbox 360 "s" features 802.11n wi-fi built in and has a matte finish rather than a the glossy finish of the 250 gigabyte model. It had a starting retail price of $199.99. In early 2012 all models where updated to be a matte finish.

Xbox 360 S 4 GB Kinect Bundle

4GB Kinect Bundle

On November 16, 2010 Microsoft release a bundle of a standard 4 gigabyte Xbox 360 came with the motion camera system Kinect and a copy of Kinect Adventures. It retailed for $299.99. This model was updated in late 2012 to include Kinect Disneyland adventures

Discontinued SKUs

Xbox 360 S Kinect Star Wars Bundle

Kinect Star Wars Bundle

Released with the launch of Kinect Star Wars the bundle includes an R2-D2 themed 320GB Xbox 360 console with custom sounds and engravings. Also included is a gold C-3PO themed wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a wired headset, a copy of Kinect Star Wars and Kinect Adventures.

Xbox 360 S Halo 4 Bundle

Halo 4 Bundle

Released November 6th along side the launch of Halo 4 the bundle includes a 320GB Halo 4 themed Xbox 360 with custom sounds. The bundle also includes two Halo 4 themed wireless controllers, a black wired headset and a copy of the standard edition of Halo 4.

Gears of War 3 Limited Edition

Xbox 360 Gear of War 3 Editon

Released along side Gears of War 3, the box includes a Gears themed console, two custom-designed wireless controllers, and a 320GB hard drive. The bundle also includes a copy of the standard edition of Gears of War 3 as well the Omen Weapon Pack and Adam Fenix multiplayer skin.

Halo: Reach Limited Edition

Xbox 360 Halo: Reach Editon

Released along side Halo: Reach the limited edition console includes a Halo: Reach themed 250GB console and wireless controller. The console also comes with a copy of the standard edition of the game.

Halo 3 Special Edition

Xbox 360 "Halo 3" Edition

Prior to the release of Halo 3, Microsoft revealed the Halo 3 Special Edition Xbox 360, with an MSRP of $399.99 USD. The system's specifications were virtually identical to the Xbox 360 Premium at the time. The system, wireless controller, and headset were painted in "Spartan green and gold," and the case sported the Halo 3 logo. The system came with an exclusive Dashboard theme and a Play and Charge Kit for the wireless controller.

Resident Evil 5 Edition

Xbox 360 RE5 Editon

On February 4, 2009 before the launch of Resident Evil 5, Microsoft announced the Resident Evil Limited Edition of the Xbox 360. The bundle featured a red Xbox 360, a red wireless gamepad, a black headset, 120GB hard drive, a copy of Resident Evil 5, a download code for Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix, and a code for an exclusive theme.

Xbox 360 Modern Warfare 2 Edition

Modern Warfare 2 Edition

The Modern Warfare 2 Special Edition was a Limited Edition release of the Elite version of the console with a few upgraded features. With an MSRP of $399.99 USD the console was released in conjunction with Modern Warfare 2 on November 10th, 2009. This Limited Edition was packaged with a 250 GB hard drive, a copy of Modern Warfare 2, two black wireless controllers, a black headset, and a modified case design. Microsoft worked exclusively with Infinity Ward's art designers to produce a unique black and gray military styled case that matches Modern Warfare 2.

Xbox 360 Premium

The Xbox 360 Premium was identical to the Xbox 360 Pro configuration but contained an older CPU architecture. Manufacturing for the Premium branded units ceased in August 2007.

Xbox 360 Core

Xbox 360 Core

The Xbox 360 Core was the barebones 360 model that carried an MSRP of $279.99 and was similar to the current Arcade configuration. It included a wired controller, had no HDMI port, and did not include any kind of storage. The Xbox 360 Core was often seen as a misstep because its production meant that developers could not take advantage of the features Xbox 360 HDD in their games, since not all users would have one. It's main benefit to Microsoft was in marketing the platform when it was launched, as they were able to state that consumers could buy an Xbox 360 for "under $300," even though the more desirable Xbox 360 Premium was close to $400 USD at the time.

Xbox 360 Pro

Xbox 360 Pro

The Xbox 360 Pro, available in the "Go Pro" bundle, had an MSRP of $249.99 USD and replaced the Xbox 360 Premium SKU. Included in the bundle were all the features found in the Xbox 360 Arcade, as well as a 60 GB hard drive and a hybrid composite/component cable. The pre-loaded, detachable 60GB hard drive came with game demos, video clips and a free Live Arcade game: Hexic HD. The hard drive allowed for the storage of downloaded content, backwards compatibility with original Xbox games, and storage of game saves. The Xbox 360 Pro bundle carried an MSRP of $299.99 USD. Prior to August 2008, the included HDD was only 20GB. For the 2007 holiday shopping season, Microsoft bundled copies of Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance with the Xbox 360 Pro. In 2008, the holiday bundle included Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda. In 2009, reduced the price of the Xbox 360 Elite to $299.99, and phased out the Xbox 360 Pro.

Xbox 360 Arcade

An entry level Xbox 360 that replaced the now discontinued Xbox 360 Core. The Xbox 360 Arcade sports a wireless controller, 256 MB memory unit (Which has now been replaced with an internal 256mb chip in the 'Jasper' version of consoles), composite AV cable, HDMI 1.2 output, and 5 Xbox Live Arcade titles: Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno on a single disk. This disc also includes a "Welcome Video" and several game trailers/demos. Officially announce on October 22, 2007, the Xbox 360 Arcade has a MSRP of $199.99 USD. Recently Microsoft confirmed that they are now putting internal memory into the Xbox 360 Arcade. This storage will be the same size as the previous external memory units: 256MB. Xbox 360 Arcade systems packaged for the 2008 holiday shopping season are bundled with a copy of Sega Superstars Tennis.

Xbox 360 Elite

Xbox 360 Elite

The Elite is currently the mid-end Xbox 360 configuration carrying an MSRP of $249.99 USD. It has all of the features of the Xbox 360 Pro, but comes with an upgraded 120 GB hard drive and has a matte black finish with matching controller and headset. For the 2008 holiday shopping season, The Elite model came packed with Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda. In 2009 there was a bundle which included both Fable 2 and Halo 3. This was followed with a bundle containing Lego Batman and Pure. In 2009, Microsoft dropped the price of the Xbox 360 Elite to $299.99, most likely to match the price of Sony's new PS3 slim carrying the same price. In 2010, Microsoft introduced a redesigned Xbox 360 and reduced the price of the 360 Elite to $249.99.

Xbox 360 Splinter Cell Conviction Bundle

Released with little to no fanfare, the Splinter Cell Conviction bundle is quite similar to its immediate predecessor, the Final Fantasy XIII bundle. It includes a black Xbox 360 Console, a 250GB HDD, two black Xbox 360 controllers, and a copy of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction. Unlike many of the special edition Xbox 360 bundles, this one does not feature any unique artwork or designs on any of the included hardware. It retailed for $399.99 US.

Games

The Xbox 360 has a large array of games starting in November 2005. On launch, Microsoft's first party titles included Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power, and PGR 3. Activision's Call of Duty 2 introduces console gamers to the series and became the biggest game on Xbox Live during launch. Later in 2006, Epic Games released Gears of War, what was considered to be the "killer app" of the Xbox 360. Thanks to the game's impressive graphics and multiplayer, the game became a big hit. 2007 would follow many games like Halo 3 (one of the most hyped games of the year), Mass Effect, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which broke many records on Xbox Live when it was released, with its sequel surpassing it. Many other sequels would be released including Fable 2 and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts within the later years.

One key feature to Xbox Live's success is the Xbox Live Arcade games. On launch, the 360 Premium bundle came packaged with Hexic HD, a puzzle game created by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov. Other launch titles include Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Marble Blast Ultra. In the beginning, Microsoft restricted Arcade game sizes to no more than 50 MB big due to the Core model and its memory card. Later, when the 256 MB memory card was released, the game size limit was expanded. Today you're able to get full games online and games can be installed to your hard drive.

Compatibility with original Xbox Games

By and large the Xbox 360 is not compatible with original Xbox games out of the box. Instead Microsoft provided software emulation for selected titles. The emulation is based on games with similar architecture to each other. This means that from a distance the list of compatible titles may look strange with such inclusions as Barbie's Horse Adventure while many best selling or critically acclaimed titles are seemingly ignored.

The emulation is not perfect and in a lot of case games feature glitches that were not present in the original version. Glitches can go from minor (slowdown, framerate issues) to sever (some glitches cause games to full on crash) Thirteen games were pulled from the service presumable due to such issue. (Seven of which were later reinstated)

Microsoft stopped updating the Xbox emulator in 2007. According to Wikipedia the final total of backwards compatible titles is 476 title making up approximately half of all Xbox games..

New Xbox Experience (NXE)

The old Xbox 360 Dashboard

Since launch the main way of interacting with the Xbox 360 has been using the 'Dashboard', a menu system split into sections by 'Blades'; initially the 'Dashboard' consisted of four 'Blades:' Live, Games, Media and Settings; a blade was later added which separated the Xbox Live Marketplace from the Xbox Live 'Blade'. At the 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Microsoft announced it would be completely redesigning the Xbox Dashboard into a more conventional menu system dubbed the New Xbox Experience.

The New Xbox Experience (NXE) is designed to be more user friendly and to be expandable as new content is added, it takes several design cues from the likes of Apple and Nintendo, and introduces several new features such as Avatars and Live Party. The New Xbox Experience was released on November 19, 2008.

Notable features of the NXE:

The New Xbox Experience
  • Avatars: A 3D representation of the user, replaces the current Gamercard; however Microsoft assure gamers they can still use their old Gamercard.
  • Live Party: A group of up to 8 people, allows users to voice chat independent of which game they are each playing.
  • Play From Drive: Allows players to copy disc content over to the HDD in order to cut down load times and DVD drive noise. The disc of the game played from the HDD is still required to be in the DVD drive.
  • Deleting Zero-Point games: The ability to delete games with no achievements unlocked has become possible, so that players may improve their ratio of possible achievements to ones gained.
  • Netflix: The Xbox 360 gained the ability to stream movies from Netfilx to view on your TV. This feature is only available to gold members and requires a Netflix paid account.

The new Xbox 360 Guide (accessible through the Xbox button on the controller) will mimic the interface of the "Blade" dashboard system. It's accessible in all Xbox 360 games to manage messages/invites, create parties, view player statistics, et cetera.

The NXE update was distributed in the fall of 2008, and took 128 Mb of space to install. Those not meeting this requirement (The Arcade and Core SKUs not having hard drives) were given a free memory unit (512MB) by Microsoft or the option to buy a 20GB Hard Drive at $20.

Features after NXE:

At CES 2009 Microsoft's Robby Bach announced Xbox Live Primetime. Primetime was the first channel on Xbox Live to use scheduled programming at specific time so you can find friends & experience live events. One of the first games to run in Primetime was 1 VS 100, which has since been discontinued. On November 17, 2009, Microsoft released another new update for the Xbox 360. With this new update, Microsoft made available custom hubs for Facebook and Twitter, along with added features like posting pictures of your games on your Facebook page. Other features include Last.fm, Zune HD, and accessing news stations like MSNBC.

Criticisms

There are a number of criticism that are often leveraged against the Xbox 360, the main one being unreliable hardware quality; however, excessive DVD drive noise and a confusing amount of hardware configurations are also targeted by critics of the system.

'The Red Ring of Death'

Red Ring of Death

The Xbox 360 has gained a reputation for a high failure rate, sometimes rumored to be as high as 30% although Microsoft have denied the failure rate is that high; they have not released an official failure rate. The most common hardware failure is the General Hardware Failure, denoted by the bottom two and upper right quadrant of the Ring of Light flashing red; leading to the failure being dubbed the ' Red Ring of Death'. This failure renders the console unable to boot or 'bricked' and the only official course of action for the consumer being to call Xbox support to ship the console back to Microsoft where it is either repaired or replaced. While there is no official course of action on fixing the Red Ring of Death there are some unofficial solutions to try. The most popular is called the "towel trick" in which you take everything off of your Xbox 360, your hard-drive, A/V cables, etc. The only thing you want plugged in is the power supply. Now you wrap it in three (3) large towels (the ones you would use to dry yourself off after a shower) and turn it on. Let it sit running for 20-30 minutes, turn it off, and let it cool off for another 15. Then turn it on and it should work. *Note this is not a permanent solution.*

No official reason has been given by Microsoft as to why this error is so common place, however most speculation points towards insufficient cooling around the GPU leading to a warping of the motherboard. Microsoft has taken steps to solve this problem by adding an additional heat sink to the GPU in later units and units returned from repair. These changes were included in a chipset refresh codenamed 'Falcon' which also includes a 65nm CPU to further reduce heat. An as yet unreleased chip set refresh, codenamed 'Jasper,' will introduce a 65nm GPU and is hoped to solve the 'Red Ring of Death' problem.

As well as these hardware revisions Microsoft has increased the Xbox 360 warranty to 3 years, however this is only to cover the 'Red Ring of Death' all other hardware problems are only covered for 1 year; this was reported to have cost Microsoft $1 billion.

Note: the new "XBOX 360 'S'" does not feature the red LEDs behind the power button. Microsoft removed this particular error message because of the bad connotations associated with this.

DVD Drive Problems

The DVD Drive is often the target of criticism, mostly for the excessive noise produced and an apparent tendency for scratching discs. These issues are less apparent in later models of the 360 as Microsoft have replaced the initial DVD drive with a quieter model from BenQ.

Power Adapter Size

The Xbox 360's power adapter is significantly larger than similar adapters on previous consoles. This criticism was mostly vocal at the beginning of the Xbox 360's retail life, as Microsoft has reduced the power adapter's size over the life of the console.

Xbox Live Arcade File Size Restriction

Initially Xbox Live Arcade games had to come in under the 50 MB file size restriction. While many people felt that that 50MB was too small to create games this limitation allowed 360 owners without the hard drive to enjoy all of the content of XBLA at that time. Over time Microsoft has relaxed restrictions to coincide with the release of larger memory units. Currently the size limit is 2GB and this is a limitation of the backend of service itself rather than an arbitrary limit imposed by Microsoft.