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Letters from the Front

The Xbox 360, for me, represented a very special time in my life and a special time in gaming when the internet was truly beginning to take flight, and Microsoft came to the forefront bearing the new and improved Xbox Live.

The Xbox 360 era also represents some of my favorite gaming franchises of all time, in an age where live service games and MTX wasn’t all the rage. Games like BioShock, Dead Space, the Fallout games, and many, many, many more soaked up hundreds of hours of my time, launching around the time I was still in grade school where everyone at breakfast would speak about what games they were playing.

In 2006, Microsoft positioned themselves in a near-flawless way, taking advantage of Sony’s predicament, which they came off the heels of the wildly successful Playstation 2, the Playstation 3 was expensive, although more future like with the introduction of Blu-Ray and integrated WiFi, at a time where home WiFi wasn’t ubiquitous like it is in the modern day and not only that but it had customizable and expensive architecture too, which led to an inflated price point.

Before all that, in 2005, the Xbox 360 launched a year prior to the Playstation 3, which gave Microsoft a huge head start when building a user base. The Xbox 360’s design allowed it to achieve a much lower retail price point at a whopping $299. WiFi was optional, via a sold-separately dongle, and the Xbox 360 fell back on DVDs. Microsoft pushed innovation in other ways, however, taking advantage of expanding connectivity which built the console and the games around Xbox Live.

Xbox Live began with the original Xbox, but, it was the Xbox 360 that defined Xbox Live and brought the service to the forefront. Xbox Live party chat, chat in-game, achievements, messaging, and other iconic features which drove engagement and letting us make memories and friends at a time when multiplayer gaming was just beginning. The speed at which Xbox Live grew outpaced its rivals and it seemed like Microsoft could do no wrong, but, we all know what happened.

After the Xbox 360 launched in 2005, a few years after its debut, gamers started noticing that their own consoles were beginning to fail, even I got it. The failure warning went on to birth an incredible meme that stands the test of time, dubbed the “Red Ring of Death,” or RROD for short. RROD consoles displayed a red circle around the power button, indicating a total system failure.

The RROD was a worst-case scenario for any company. Every single Xbox 360 was at risk, leading to Peter Moore to request  from then-CEO Steve Ballmer to fix the problem. Microsoft later came out with hardware revisions to rectify the Red Ring of Death and saving the Xbox brand from total collapse. Thanks to this, Microsoft wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is today in the present day, flooding the brand with cash paid off in the long run.

The Xbox 360 is mostly remembered for Xbox Live and the amount of games that launched on the platform, many of these are now dormant in the present.

My favorites came from Activision, BioWare, Bethesda, and EA: Games like Mass Effect 2, the Bad Company games, the two Fallout games, Battlefield 3, and most of the Call of Duty games being some of my favorite games of all time. These franchises, especially Call of Duty, exploded and was made a sensation overnight.

The generation had plenty of iconic games, like, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, BioShock, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV, and plenty of others. I sunk so many hours into Skyrim, Fallout 3, the Call of Duty games like Modern Warfare and Black Ops, my fondest memories of the Xbox 360 came from games like the Call of Duty games where I would stay up all night during summer break playing with my friends and making new friends on those games, friendships that I still have decades later. One of my favorite things is that Xbox today in the present is the desire to honor these games by bringing them forward to the modern day via Backwards Compatible so I can go back and play these legendary games.

Did you have an Xbox 360 back in the day? What are your fondest memories of the console? What franchises should return or return to their former glory? Share them down below!

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