Microsoft has pulled the plug on its best-selling games console ever, ending the lifecycle of the Xbox 360, which has now reached the grand old age of 10 years old.
That is of course a lifetime in tech terms, but gamers will look back fondly on the 360 as it cemented Microsoft as a genuine contender in the gaming industry.
Phil Spencer, the chief of Microsoft Xbox division announced on Xbox Wire that the company is now stopping production of the console.
While the Nintendo Wii run away with the 7th generation of home consoles, the Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 boasted the hardware to appeal to hardcore gamers.
The two consoles sold in huge numbers and ended the generation basically neck and neck in terms of sales, but the 360 certainly contributed to creating its own legacy. Microsoft's Xbox Live took shape on the console and really put Sony's similar PlayStation Network to shame and contributed greatly to the gaming shift to the online world.
Spencer's post is a good read in its own right, so here it is in full:
“The Xbox 360 helped redefine an entire generation of gaming at Microsoft. I am incredibly proud of all of the work and dedication that went into development of the Xbox 360 hardware, services and games portfolio over the last decade. And I'm grateful to the fans for their continued passion and support.
Franchises like Gears of War were born on the 360, and established blockbusters like Halo really came into their own during this console generation. Xbox 360 was also the foundation for industry-leading technical innovation like Kinect, and the start of system updates and dashboard refreshes based on fan feedback.
Thanks to the Xbox 360, we evolved Xbox Live from the original Xbox into the thriving online gaming community it is today. And the console became a beloved gaming and entertainment hub with over 78 billion gaming hours played, nearly 486 billion Gamerscore on 27 billion achievements and over 25 billion hours spent in apps over its lifetime.
From the original Zero Hour launch event, to the incredible reaction received last year at E3 when we announced that you could play your Xbox 360 games on Xbox One, the soul of Xbox 360 was about putting gamers at the center of every decision we make – and we apply this principle across our business to this day.
Xbox 360 means a lot to everyone in Microsoft. And while we've had an amazing run, the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us. Which is why we have made the decision to stop manufacturing new Xbox 360 consoles. We will continue to sell existing inventory of Xbox 360 consoles, with availability varying by country.
We know that many of you became gamers on Xbox 360 and are still active, so it's important to us that while the overall Xbox gaming experience will evolve and grow, we will continue to support the platform you love in multiple ways.”
So, the 360 is now riding off into the sunset and will join other classics like the PlayStation 2, Mega-Drive, and SNES in the gaming console place in the sky. First released in the United States in November 2005, the Xbox 360 is still a solid enough console even today and has many 8th generation titles available for gamers who have clung to the older gen hardware.
Over the years Microsoft has refined the console, which means making it slimmer, easier on the eye, and more potent in terms of hardware. It is something the company is currently toying with doing to its Xbox One, which proceeded the 360.
Luckily, while production has stopped, the platform itself is not dead and Microsoft says it will be supporting the Xbox 360 in the future in the following ways:
Xbox 360 owners will continue to receive Xbox Live services for their console, such as online multiplayer gaming and parties, access to the apps they use today, and Games with Gold and Deals with Gold.
Xbox Live servers that support Xbox 360 services will also remain online and active. Our Xbox 360 fans can continue to play their favorite games with the full support of Xbox Live.
Gamers will also be able to continue to buy over 4,000 Xbox 360 games or Xbox 360 accessories at retail and through our 360 store online, while supplies last.
Any 360 hardware will still be supported at xbox.com/support. And Xbox One owners will be able to continue to enjoy available 360 games through Xbox One Backward Compatibility – at no additional cost.