Xbox 360

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Template:CVG system The Xbox 360 is Microsoft's successor to their original Xbox, referred to during development as "Xenon", "Xbox 2", and "Xbox Next". It was released on November 22, 2005 in North America, December 2 in Europe, and December 10 in Japan. It will be released on February 2, 2006 in Mexico, February 24 in Korea,March 2, 2006 in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

The Xbox 360 will compete against the upcoming generation of consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution, and was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, a week before the trade show.

In most countries the console is sold in two different configurations: the "Xbox 360" and the "Xbox 360 Core System". The Xbox 360 configuration, often referred to as the "Premium Edition", includes a hard drive (needed to play original Xbox games and to play live online), wireless controller, headset, ethernet cable, Xbox Live silver subscription, and a component HD AV cable.

The console hardware is based on a custom IBM PowerPC-based "Xenon" central processing unit (CPU) and a custom ATI R500-based "Xenos" graphics processing unit (GPU). It is equipped with 512 MB of RAM and uses the DVD-ROM storage medium for Xbox 360 game software.


Retail configurations and pricing

Microsoft's current retail strategy involves two different configurations of the Xbox 360 in most countries.

In United Kingdom and Europe, the console will be offered in two versions: an Xbox 360 SKU, frequently referred to as the "Xbox 360 Premium Edition"; and an Xbox 360 Core System SKU. The Core System will not be available in Japan, instead Microsoft will offer a package identical to the Xbox 360 SKU for ¥37,900 ($323.90 as of 21 December 05 8:09 UTC, based on The Xbox 360 Premium Edition is being sold in America for $399.99. Japanese pricing of the console has drawn some criticism, as customers there will be able to purchase the Xbox 360 Premium Edition for a lower price than in other countries.

Microsoft's decision has also allowed Japanese developers to fully utilize the hard drive to optimize game performance, since it is part of the default system configuration in their market. However because of the existence of a Core System edition, many games do not require a hard drive.

BusinessWeek magazine compiled a report which estimates that the total cost of all of the components in the "Premium Edition" is $525 USD, aside from additional manufacturing costs, meaning that Microsoft is losing at least $126 on every Xbox 360 system sold in the US, and at least as much in Japan. The strategy of selling a console at a loss is common in the console games industry, as console makers can usually expect to make up the investment with revenue from game licensing. Also, since Microsoft owns the patents for all custom hardware used in the Xbox 360, they can easily switch to new fabrication processes or change suppliers in the future in order to reduce manufacturing costs. This flexibility stands in contrast to the situation faced by the original Xbox, which contained a processor from Intel (a slightly modified Pentium III) and a GPU from NVidia (a modified GeForce 3). Both of these were very similar to "off the shelf" PC hardware and were therefore sold to Microsoft at inflated market prices. Because of these chips and the added expense of a hard drive component, Microsoft was never able to reduce the cost of manufacturing an Xbox below the break-even point. Microsoft's home entertainment division posted a loss through nearly every quarter of the console's lifecycle as a result. Microsoft hopes to avoid such a predicament with its new console, the company is predicting that a greater market share and falling hardware costs will make the Xbox 360 a profitable item.

Comparison table Xbox 360


Xbox 360 Core System


Detachable hard drive (20 GB) Template:Yes Template:No
Controller 2.4 GHz Wireless Wired with 9ft break-away cable
Xbox-Live Headset Template:Yes Template:No
Cables Component HD-AV cable Standard AV cable
Xbox Live Silver membership Template:Yes Template:Yes
One month membership for Xbox Live Gold (hard drive or memory unit needed for Core) Template:Yes Template:Yes
Ethernet cable Template:Yes Template:No
Media Remote (included in the initial shipment) Template:Yes Template:No
Pricing on release
Australia (Australian dollars) $649.95 $499.95
Canada (Canadian dollars) $499.99 $399.99
Europe (Euro) [1] €399.99 (€409.99 for Finland, Ireland, and Portugal) €299.99 (€309.99 for Finland, Ireland, and Portugal)
Sweden (SEK) 3995:- 2995:-
Norway (NOR) 3395:- 2595:-
Japan (Yen) ¥39,795 not available
Mexico (Pesos) $4999.99 $3999.99
New Zealand (New Zealand dollars) $719.95 $549.95
United Kingdom (Pound sterling) £279.99 £209.99
United States (USD) $399.99 $299.99

Launch details

The Xbox 360 has been released in North America, Europe, and Japan. Many stores sold out on the first day, and as of late December consumers had to hunt across many stores to find one in stock. In Japan, it was received far less enthusiastically, despite the low price and bonus features. For full details see #Console launch.


The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, a week before . The first area to see the machine released was Brazil on November 21, 2005, at the Brazillian Electronic Game Show (though Microsoft doesn't plan to sell the Xbox 360 offically in Brazil it was shown on this date). It was released in North America on November 22, 2005, with Europe following just over a week later.

Date Location
November 21, 2005 Brazil, due to EGS (Electronic Game Show fair), ending on Sunday (Nov 21).
November 22, 2005 North America
December 2, 2005 Europe
December 10, 2005 Japan
February 2, 2006 Mexico
February 24, 2006 South Korea
March 2, 2006 Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan
TBA Elsewhere

Available titles

Eighteen launch titles were available for customers in the United States and Canada on November 22, 2005. The European countries had fifteen titles available for the launch date of December 2, 2005. Japanese customers, however, only had six titles to choose from by the time the Xbox 360 was released on December 10, 2005. This discrepancy is partially accounted for by the time needed to localize the games.

150px 150px
Call of Duty 2 Dead or Alive 4
150px 150px
Every Party FIFA '06: Road to FIFA World Cup
150px 150px
Kameo: Elements of Power NBA Live '06
150px 150px
Perfect Dark Zero Project Gotham Racing 3
Title North America Europe Japan
Amped 3 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Call of Duty 2 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Condemned: Criminal Origins Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Every Party Template:No Template:No Template:Yes
FIFA '06: Road to FIFA World Cup Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Gun Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Kameo: Elements of Power Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Madden NFL 06 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
NBA 2K6 Template:Yes Template:No Template:No
NBA Live 06 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Need for Speed: Most Wanted Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
NHL 2K6 Template:Yes Template:No Template:No
Perfect Dark Zero (LE available) Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Peter Jackson's King Kong Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Project Gotham Racing 3 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Quake 4 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Ridge Racer 6 Template:Yes Template:No Template:Yes
Tetris: The Grandmaster Ace Template:No Template:No Template:Yes
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:No

Components and accessories


The Xbox 360 has the ability to support up to four wireless controllers. Alternately it can support two wired controllers through the use of its USB ports at the front, the USB port on the back will support a third controller. Since the controller has a USB cable, it is also usable in Windows PCs. The wired controller has a nine foot (2.74 m) long cord with a break-away feature. The wireless controller has a battery life of up to 25 hours on the NiMH rechargeable battery pack (optional and recommended) and a recommended range of up to 30 feet (9.14 m), although it has been tested to work at a greater range.

The controller for the Xbox 360 is a similar version of the Type-S gamepad for the original Xbox. The Xbox 360 controller adds an Xbox guide button, which has the appearance of the Xbox 360 emblem and is surrounded by a ring of green LEDs. Pressing the Xbox guide button will bring the Xbox 360 out of sleep mode, turn the console on or off, and bring up the "Xbox Guide" for access to digital movies, music and games libraries. The ring of light lights up the quadrant (on the controller as well as the console) that correlates with the quadrant of the screen you will be playing on (if more than one person is playing the game). The black and white buttons have been redesigned as shoulder buttons, now referred to as bumper buttons, located above the left and right triggers. The rear of the controller includes a port where the player can connect a headset. This port replaces the two proprietary USB connectors on the front of the Xbox controller.

Detachable hard drive

A detachable SATA 20 GB hard drive is used for the storage of games, music, downloaded trailers, levels, demos, player preferences, and community-created content from Xbox Live Marketplace; it may also be used to transfer such content between Xbox 360 units. A hard drive is also required for the user to be able to play backward compatible Xbox games. The individual drives will come pre-loaded with a promotional video about the making of the Xbox 360, additional Dashboard skins, songs, additional Xbox Live Gamertag images, and Hexic HD, an Xbox Live Arcade game from Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov. This content will be included on both the bundled hard drive and the stand alone product. This drive will not be included in the Core System bundle at launch, and also will not be sold separately in Japan.

According to J Allard, the chief of Microsoft's Xbox division, Microsoft may sell larger capacity detachable hard drives for the Xbox 360 in the future, and territories outside of North America may have a differently sized hard drive in the retail unit.


The default faceplate (Xbox 360's Chrome or Core System's Chill) can be replaced with a range of custom designs, each to be sold separately. Microsoft has also distributed two promotional faceplates, one for those present at the E3 2005 unveiling and one for VIP X05 attendees. The price of these custom designs are around $20 with more to be released by third party manufacturers.

AV connection cables

This set provides component RCA and composite video cables, along with 2-Y RCA stereo audio connectors for both high and standard definition output to TVs. All the connectors also offer an optical audio output jack for connection to surround sound systems.
  • S-Video AV Cable (U.S., Japan, and Canada only) or Xbox 360 SCART AV Cable (Europe only)
This set of cables connects to high-definition as well as standard-definition TVs that have S-Video or composite video inputs. The SCART AV Cable allows an RGB connection via the SCART connector.
  • Xbox 360 D-Terminal AV Cable (Japan only) This cable is included in the Japanese Xbox 360 System.
  • VGA HD AV Cable
This set of cables allows for high-definition on flat-panel TV or computer monitors that have a VGA connector. It has 2-Y RCA male jacks for audio connection.


  • Rechargable battery pack: This nickel metal hydride battery pack provides up to 30 hours of continuous gaming for the wireless controller. It is recommended in place of disposable AA batteries (which differ slightly in voltage). It also ships as part of the Play & Charge Kit.
  • Play and Charge kit: allows the controller to be recharged while playing. Also includes the rechargeable battery pack.
  • Memory Unit: a portable 64MB device which allows the transfer of saved games, in-game achievements and unique gamer profiles to other Xbox 360 consoles.
  • Wireless Networking Adapter: The Wi-Fi (802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g) adapter is sold separately and will be sold for $100/€80/£60/C$130/¥8,925. Using an official or third-party wireless bridge the console will automatically detect and link up with other Xbox 360 consoles that are within range and form a mesh network.
  • Headset: allows gamers to talk to each other when plugged into the controller and connected to Xbox Live, and has an in-line volume control.
  • Universal Media Remote: assists in the playing of DVD movies and music (although the console can play such media without the remote) , and offers controls for a TV or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PC. The universal media remote is a bigger version of the media remote that will initially be shipped with the premium version of the console. Both remotes allow basic control of games, along with being able to navigate the dashboard. The remote controls interface with the Xbox 360 via IR.

Hardware specifications

Specifications are also available at the official Xbox website.

Central processing unit

The central processing unit (CPU), named Xenon, is a custom IBM triple-core PowerPC-based design. [2]

Graphics processing unit

Xbox 360 GPU, note the smaller eDRAM die to the left of the main Xenos die.

The graphics processing unit (GPU) is a custom ATI R500-based "Xenos"

  • 337 million transistors total
  • 500 MHz parent GPU (90 nm process, 232 million transistors)
  • 500 MHz 10 MB daughter embedded DRAM framebuffer (90 nm process, 105 million transistors)
  • 48-way parallel floating-point dynamically-scheduled shader pipelines
    • 4 arithmetic logic units per pipe for vertex or pixel shader processing
    • Unified shader architecture (This means that each pipeline is capable of running either pixel or vertex shaders.)
    • Support for DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0, limited support for future DirectX 10 shader models
    • 2 Shader operations per pipe per cycle
    • 96 Shader operations per cycle across the entire shader array
    • Shader performance: 48 billion (48,000 million) shader operations per second
  • 16 Filtered & 16 unfiltered texture samples per clock
  • Maximum polygon performance: 500 million triangles per second
  • Pixel fillrate: 16 gigasamples per second fillrate using 4X multisample anti aliasing (MSAA)
  • Dot product operations: 9.6 billion per second theoretical maximum, 33.6 billion per second theoretical maximum when summed with CPU operations.


System bandwidth

The system bandwidth comprises:

  • 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth (700 MHz × 2 accesses per clock cycle (one per edge) on a 128 bit bus)
  • 256 GB/s eDRAM internal logic to eDRAM internal memory bandwidth
  • 32 GB/s GPU to eDRAM bandwidth (2 GHz × 2 accesses per clock cycle on a 64 bit DDR bus)
  • 21.6 GB/s front side bus (aggregated 10.8 GB/s upstream and downstream)
  • 1 GB/s southbridge bandwidth (aggregated 500 MB/s upstream and downstream)

Overall System Floating-Point Performance

  • 115 GFLOPS theoretical peak performance for CPU
  • 1 TFLOPS theoretical peak performance of CPU and GPU combined


  • All games support at least six channel (5.1) Dolby Digital surround sound
  • Supports 48 kHz 16-bit audio
  • 320 independent decompression channels
  • 32 bit processing
  • 256+ audio channels
  • No voice echo to game players on the same Xbox console; voice goes only to remote consoles
  • Voice communication except during games or applications that do not support voice.
  • Uses XMA codec (advanced audio technology from Microsoft)


DVD Drive

A 12X DVD-ROM drive, capable of reading DVD+R/RW discs, is part of the console, with game titles shipping on single or dual-layer DVDs. The other supported formats are: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, WMACD, MP3CD, and JPEG Photo CD.

It has been confirmed by Yoshihiro Maruyama, Japan's chief of Xbox operations, that Microsoft will never release games for Xbox 360 in a format other than DVD. [3]

Also confirmed is the fact that the 360 will not include a next-generation DVD drive in the future. Microsoft put an end to speculation in a press release that stated they have "no plans" to ever put a next-generation DVD drive in a future revision of the Xbox 360. [4]

Xbox 360 games are set to the standard 7.95GiB of storage available on a dual-layer DVD. Due to the limited space of standard DVDs, some games made for the system may span multiple discs. The Nintendo Revolution will use a proprietary disc of similar capacity while the PlayStation 3 will have the ability to use 25GB or 50GB Blu-Ray Discs, although Blu-Ray specifications are not finalized yet.

Physical characteristics

  • Weight 3.5 kg (7.7 lb)
  • 30.9 cm (L) x 25.8 cm (W) x 8.3 cm (H) (12.15 x 10.15 x 3.27 in)


  • Support for WMV HD and progressive or interlaced DVD video playback.
  • Media Center Extender capability
  • The console makes use of regional lockout. Games bought for the console in a specific region can only be played in a console from the same region, though some games are region-free. DVD playback on the console has similar lockouts.
  • All games must support a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a minimum of 720p HD resolution with 2x full-scene anti-aliasing enabled. The GPU can downsample 720p to lower display resolutions (including 480i SDTV and 480p) and dynamically crop or scale 16:9 to fit 4:3 screens. Some games will optionally support native 1080i and 480p video resolutions as well.
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • Microsoft claims all games will support custom music. (This requirement may have profound effects on the business model for music video games.) There are several ways to utilize the custom soundtrack option: by ripping music from audio CD's, stream music directly from your PC (Windows Media Center Extender), plug in a USB Flash Drive, or plug in an MP3 player that is USB-capable (including any Apple iPod models which support USB or Sony PSP) into the system to use custom soundtracks. However, you can only store music on the system's hard drive by ripping your audio CDs.


The Dashboard is the main interface to the Xbox 360, governed by a series of "blades" to subdivide categories. The Dashboard will launch automaticially at boot if no game disc is inserted into the console. The Dashboard can also be accessed via the Xbox Guide button on the controller at any time to open a player specific blade. From there, the full Dashboard can be run, exiting the current game.

The main dashboard is divided into 4 main sections:

  • Xbox Live/MarketPlace
    • For downloading maps, patches etc. Online multiplayer and online communication
  • Games
    • Information adds to your gamer card, for example what games collection you have and what one's you have played
  • Media
    • Section for music, pictures and videos
  • System
    • System information and Gamer Card

Software development


In March 2004, Microsoft announced a new game development software strategy dubbed "XNA", which Microsoft claims would enable game studios to cut development times by up to a third if developing across multiple Microsoft platforms, by means of tools created with the increasing difficulty of programming for a machine with three processor cores in mind. The Xbox 360 game development will be centered around the XNA Studio game development platform. XNA Studio covers three areas: Content Creation, Production Processes and Game Technologies. XNA Studio will enable collaboration between content creators, programmers, management and QA staff to speed the game production process. Based on Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team System, the XNA Studio is the Visual Studio for game development; an integrated, team-based development environment tailored for game production. XNA Studio will provide 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. XNA Studio will allow team members to collaborate using familiar techniques and tools, even when elements of the team are distributed geographically, an increasing trend in game development. Microsoft believes that this will give developers more time to generate unique content and reduce time running the content process. To date, some developers have endorsed XNA Studio. For example, John Carmack stated at QuakeCon 2005 that the Xbox 360 had "the best development environment" he has seen for a console.

Procedural synthesis

Main article: Procedural synthesis

For the Xbox 360, Microsoft has drawn on recent research in computer graphics to enable a new method for game programming. In traditional games, all content is statically stored and generally immutable; that is, textures, meshes, and other game content is stored on a storage medium. As complexity in each rises, the demand for storage rises as well. A newer approach to generating content is utilised for Xbox 360 titles, a method referred to by Microsoft as procedural synthesis. Procedural synthesis is an approach to generating game content via algorithms. For example, trees are one of the most complicated objects to render in a game, due to their organic complexity. A game with only one model for a tree will appear odd, as nature is far more random; the game loses some of its immersion as a result. Instead, a general recursive algorithm will generate the tree's model and textures, so that each tree looks different from the next, and do so with high efficiency. The Xbox 360's architecture was designed with this approach in mind.[5] When running procedural synthesis algorithms, one of the Xenon CPU's cores may "lock" a portion of the 1 MB shared L2 cache. When locked, a segment of cache no longer contains any prefetched instructions or data for the CPU, but is instead used as output space for the procedural synthesis thread. The Xenos GPU can then read directly from this locked cache space and render the procedurally generated objects. The rationale behind this design is that procedurally generated game content can be streamed directly from CPU to GPU, without incurring additional latency by being stored in system RAM as an intermediary step. The downside to this approach is that when part of the L2 cache is locked, there is even less data immediately available to keep the 3 symmetric cores in the Xenon CPU running at full efficiency (1 MB of shared L2 is already a rather small amount of cache for 3 symmetric cores to share, especially considering that the Xenon CPU does not support out-of-order execution to more efficiently use available clock cycles).

Procedural synthesis is also found outside of the Xbox 360 in the advanced freeware FPS game .kkrieger, where such techniques have reduced the size of the visually stunning game to a mere 96 kilobytes. Other interesting examples of procedural synthesis are shown in various demoscene demos. The Playstation 3 also has impressive procedural synthesis capabilities, but the technical implementation differs significantly.

Backward compatibility

See also: List of Xbox games compatible with Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is partially backwards compatible, being able to play certain Xbox games through emulation at the CPU level [6]. This requires an Xbox 360 with a hard disk, and a subscription to XboxLive. However, the Xbox 360 does not have an x86 architecture, making emulation of high-end Xbox games like Doom3 and Far Cry Instincts improbable (as even the graphic card architecture is different). Hard drives purchased separately or as part of the console package will include a certain number of "emulation profiles" for games, including Halo and Halo 2. Games are treated to more than just playability in the form of minor graphical enhancements due to Full screen Anti-Aliasing and games being transmitted in 720p and 1080i resolutions, with the 'AA' turned on graphical 'jaggies' become less apparent or do not show up at all. Another small improvement is slightly further draw distance in some games, possibly due to the system's memory bandwith. Other profiles are available as auto-updates over the Xbox Live network, provided that there is a hard drive component to store them to. Users may also download the profiles from and transfer them to the console via a burned CD, or order such a CD from Microsoft for a nominal fee.

The list of backward compatible games for the U.S. market was released on November 11, 2005 and is maintained at Although the U.S. list includes over 200 games, fewer games are listed as backward compatible in the European markets, and the Japanese Xbox site shows only 12[7]. Note that these figures are current as of November 2005, more emulation profiles will be made available in the future.

Xbox Live on the Xbox 360

Main article: Xbox Live on the Xbox 360

With the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft's online gaming service, Xbox Live will go through a major upgrade adding a basic non-subscription service (Silver) to its already established premium subscription-based service (Gold). Xbox Live Silver is free of charge and allows users to create a profile, join on message boards, access to Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, and talk to other members. Silver members are not allowed to play any games online. Microsoft has also announced there will be trial weekends for Silver members to access the full features of Gold service temporarily.

Xbox Live Gold will have the same features as Silver plus online game playing capabilities and video conferencing. However, video conferencing will not be available when the console is first released. Microsoft has allowed for previous Xbox Live subscribers to maintain their profile information, buddy lists, and games history when they make the transition to Xbox Live Gold. To transition your account you have to sign up for a .net account on and link it with your gamer tag. Then when you turn on your 360 console you will be asked for your .net account and your information will transfer. An Xbox Live Gold account will cost $49.99 USD, £39.99 Pounds Sterling, €59.99 per year.

Xbox Gamer Guide

The Xbox Game Guide is a tabbed user interface that can be accessed instantly by pressing the Guide Button on any Xbox 360 controller. It offers the following selections:

  • Xbox Live
  • Marketplace
  • Favorites List
  • Custom Playlists
  • Friends Lists
  • and others


MTV's Xbox 360 TV special hosted by actor Elijah Wood.
File:X360 BillG TIMECover.jpg
Bill Gates on the Cover of Time Magazine with the new Xbox 360

The official unveiling of the system occurred on Thursday, May 12, 2005 on MTV in a program called MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed hosted by actor Elijah Wood with a musical performance by the band The Killers. The Xbox 360 was also featured on the cover of Time magazine's May 23, 2005 issue with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates holding up one of the units. In the article he says "It's perfect...The day Sony launches [the new PlayStation], and they walk right into Halo 3." [8] Read more at wikiquote. Microsoft executive Robbie Bach later clarified this statement, saying "Philosophically the point Bill was trying to make is that we're not just going to ship and not have great stuff coming up."[9]

The system, along with some playable games, were shown off at E3 2005. The demos were running on "Xbox 360 Alpha Development Kits" which were Apple PowerMac G5s, chosen due to the PowerPC processor architecture that machine shares with the Xbox 360. Microsoft claims that most of the games were running at 25-30% of full capacity because they were not running on actual systems.

In October/November 2005, North American Target and Wal-Mart stores received kiosks to demonstrate games like Call of Duty 2 and Kameo: Elements of Power. In the first week of November, the Xbox 360 screen of death was reported. EB Games locations recieved the Xbox 360 kiosks in their stores just over a week prior to its release.

Viral advertising and alternate reality games

The promotional campaign for Xbox 360 began on March 14, 2005 with the opening of an alternate reality game called OurColony. Throughout March and April offered challenges to its community, rewarding solutions with cropped pictures of the console and game screenshots. On May 12 the ARG section of OurColony closed, visitors were instead greeted with a promotional video hosted by J. Allard. was the next viral marketing campaign from Microsoft. Unveiled on September 27, 2005 the website, hosted by talking rabbits Boss and Didier offers visitors an opportunity to enter in various contests. The initial contest was a raffle that required participants to answer three trivia questions regarding the Xbox 360 for a chance to attend a promotional pre-launch event. New contests include a Halo 2 tournament and a competition to design a "Gamertile" (an avatar icon). Design for the website employs flash animation of a Bonsai tree and bland elevator music to create a serene environment that is punctuated by visually intense psychedelic episodes involving the host rabbits.

October 2005 saw the launch of "Hex168", another viral marketing campaign commissioned by Microsoft and executed by the Marden-Kane advertising agency. On October 13, 2005, members of the TeamXbox forums were directed to the website through mysterious messages posted by someone called "Lutz". [10] This website hosted a number of images that appeared to perpetuate obscure conspiracy theories, but sometimes contained obtuse references to Xbox 360. The campaign was later revealed to be a U.S. contest that offered participants a chance to win one of three hundred and sixty Xbox 360 console bundles six days before the official launch.[11]

Console launch

United States and Canada

Prelaunch reports assume that Microsoft intentionally restricted supply [12], although there is no evidence to support this and Microsoft has said they are releasing all units into supply chains as quickly as possible [13] [14]. Evidence indicates that Microsoft launched with all consoles available at the time, and operating at maximum production capability (i.e. they did not withhold produced consoles). They did not, however, build up a sufficient supply of consoles to satisfy the entire demand at launch. This allowed them to launch several months earlier than would otherwise be possible, but also led to shortages.

Peter Moore, Microsoft corporate vice president, predicted that shipments will reach 10 million units worldwide by the end of 2006. [15]

Immediately after the launch, reports about the new machine's technical glitches started coming out. Some reported the Xbox 360 crashing with errors, some reported the hard drive does not respond in certain situations while others report error messages during various games or unusually fast overheating. [16] The manual contains warnings about not placing the Xbox 360 on soft surfaces or in enclosed spaces to avoid heating problems. Microsoft claims that these problems are to be expected on a large scale release for a console and the number of reports versus the number of consoles released was very minimal. Microsoft has stated that they will look into the reports and have offered assistance reachable by phone.

The high demand for the Xbox 360 led to some owners almost immediately re-selling their console for vastly inflated prices. eBay in particular was a popular location for such offers with thousands of consoles going up for auction, some selling for many times the original retail price. It was reported [17] that 40,000 units appeared on eBay during the initial month of release, which would mean that 10% of the total supply was resold.

According to the NDP Group, 326,000 units were sold in November. [18] A second batch of 300,000 units were shipped to North America in the week of December 18, 2005. If the estimates are correct, Microsoft will likely not be able to come close to its goal of three million units sold in the first three months after launch. [19]

In Canada, all 32,100 units available for launch were sold. [20]


Microsoft confirmed that 300,000 units were available for the european launch, creating shortages as in North America. As before, hundreds of Xbox 360 appeared on auction websites like eBay, selling for more than twice their retail price. The shortages led to some consumers criticising retailers (especially Amazon), and others attacking Microsoft itself for failing to fill demand. In turn, some retailers blamed Microsoft for failing to provide enough consoles in the Christmas period. Microsoft stated that more units would arrive on the UK market at the beginning of December but, as in North America, supplies will likely be limited until 2006 due to high demand.

A total of 15 games were available for launch, including critical hits Call of Duty 2, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Perfect Dark Zero.


While other regions such as the United States or Europe enjoyed successful launches, initial sales in Japan have been a great disappointment with 62,135 units sold on the first two days, December 10 and 11, according to an independent report by Enterbrain. [21] This report also specified the initial shipment as 159,000 units, meaning only 39.08% of available units were sold. Some have attributed this slow start to titles such as Dead or Alive 4 and Enchant Arm missing the launch date while others point to the marketing strategy that focused on selling the Xbox 360 as a fashionable item when customers were looking for an affordable or a high performance gaming console. Reports of troubles with units sold in the U.S. as well as a quick cut in the retail price of the original Xbox made many gamers skeptical of the Xbox 360.

For his part, Famitsu Xbox 360 editor-in-chief Munetatsu Matsui pointed to DOA4's absence as the main factor behind the slow start. He even added information that over 60% of his readers had planned to buy the much anticipated Tecmo fighting game which is set for a December 29 release.

Matsui predicts however that the Xbox 360 will likely gain momentum coming into January 2006 when new titles come out which includes Ninety-Nine Nights.

Initial predictions were highly optimistic as the highest rating launch game reviewed by Famitsu, Namco's Ridge Racer 6, scored 35 out of 40 stars. Namco expects to sell 500,000 copies of Ridge Racer 6 in Japan. It should be noted that this number is roughly equal to the number of Xbox units sold in Japan by November of 2005. Microsoft Japan executive Yoshihiro Maruyama stated that he expects sales of Xbox 360 in Japan to hit one million units sometime next year. Maruyama is widely credited for attracting support from Japanese game developers.

In Japan to entice people into buying the Xbox 360 some retailers are offering discounts on the system if they sign up for a 2 year broadband contract, similar to cell phone deals in the US. On December 17, Rakuten's website announced a special one-day sale at December 22 for 10 Xbox 360 to be sold at 24,900 yen.[22] (If you can read japanese it says the price is 24,900 after January 5th 2006.)

The 2-day 62,135 sales figure of the Xbox 360 is a little past half of the 123,334 units of the old Xbox that Microsoft sold in the first 3 days in Japan in February 2002.

On the day of the launch, Capcom unveiled their Xbox 360-exclusive sci-fi game Lost Planet, which features South Korean actor Lee Byung Hun in the lead role.

Technical Issues

Xbox 360 "Screen of Death"

File:Xbox360 bsod 02.jpg
A photo of the Xbox 360 "Screen of Death" at a kiosk

The Xbox 360 screen of death (X360SoD) is an error screen displayed by the Xbox 360 game console. It was discovered in Wal-Mart stores days before the official console launch. Microsoft placed kiosks for demonstration in some stores and the error began appearing. The error stops the console and requests that the player contact technical support.

The screen contains the text "System error. Contact Xbox Customer Support." in a variety of languages and the error code at the bottom.


Since its initial release date, some Xbox 360 customers have complained that the 360 occasionally freezes, apparently due to overheating because of high environment temperatures or a limited airflow around the 360 (and as such the problem can be lessened by allowing a better airflow or cooler environment). Given the lack of independent statistics it is hard to say whether the 360 tendency to overheat is severe enough that it is to be considered a flaw in the product.

Disc Scratching

Since the release of the Xbox 360, a small number of users are complaining of heavily scratched and damaged DVDs caused by misuse of the Xbox 360. The actual problem comes from a user moving the Xbox 360 from its vertical position to its horizontal position and vice-versa while the system is playing a game. The spinning disc has a high angular velocity and when the console is rotated, angular momentum causes the disc inside the drive to warp, touching the drive's pickup-assembly and scratching the disc. This is why the instruction manual that comes with the unit specifically states not to move the Xbox while it is in operation. A video has been posted on the web which depicts a user tilting the Xbox 360 while in operation causing a loud scratching noise. [23]. Microsoft is unable to replace the scratched discs, however they are offering a free copy of Perfect Dark Zero (a Microsoft published game) as a replacement. [24] There have been no reported scratched discs while leaving the unit stationary during gameplay. It is also possible however, that resurfacing may fix some of these discs as the disc shown in the video above does not show any signs of damage to the data layer.

Power Supply

Although not a true technical issue, there is some criticism regarding the size and consumption of the power supply for the 360. A photo comparing the 360's power supply size next to a Nintendo Gamecube can be seen here: [25] It draws 160 watts, over twice as much as the original Xbox (74 watts) and over three times as a PS2 (50 watts). It is notable that the processors within the Xbox 360 are considerably faster and more powerful than previous consoles which constitutes a higher power requirement, much like many of the new high-power gaming PCs. In comparison, the power draw of the 360 is greater than most home A/V equipment with the exception of bigscreen HDTVs [26].

Red Light Patterns

Various issues occuring with the Xbox 360 system will cause various patterns of red lights to occur in place of the standard green Ring of Light.

The patterns are as follows:

4 Red Lights: The A/V cable is either not properly connected to the Xbox 360 system, or is not being detected. [27]

3 Red Lights: The Xbox 360 system is experiencing a hardware failure. Some Xbox 360 system owners have reported that this is due to a low-power problem, and was fixed by allowing the Xbox 360 console its own power socket.

2 Left Red Lights: The Xbox 360 system is overheating; place in an area with better ventilation.

1 Red Light: Will usually come with the 'Contact Microsoft Support' error message, but either way it means a hardware failure. Contact MS Support.

(on controller) All four lights periodically flash green: The controller is not initialised by the device it is plugged in to.

List of Solutions

As many errors as there seems to be with Xbox 360, there are also a number of ways around the problems as well. First, it is stated in the instruction manual to keep the 360 in a cooled environment away from dust and dirt. This is one of the major causes of overheating in the 360. It should be noted that one should not put the console on carpet or any soft area. Next, the large Power Supply Unit works best when it is off the ground. This (along with plugging the unit into a wall socket and NOT a surge protector) greatly reduces the risk of overheating on a console. Finally, one must never move their console at any time when it is active and has a disc inside. As stated before this will scratch your disc and few retailers are willing to replace them. Follow these steps and a majority of the problems will be avoided.

See also

External links

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  1. Lewis, Peter (Nov. 28, 2005). "Let the Games Begin". Fortune, pp. 87–88.
  2. ^  Template:Citepaper publisher

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