End of an era: Microsoft ends production of Xbox 360

There are moments in one’s life when people become aware of just how old they have become. Time’s habit of slipping by gradually obscures the large distance covered until these moments bring them into sharp relief. The ten-year reunion is one of those events, as are significant birthdays (how did I become a 40-year-old?). In the past week, gamers may have experienced one of these events when Microsoft announced that they were ending production of the Xbox 360, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last November.

The Xbox 360 was a revolutionary system that marked a number of firsts for gaming. It allowed, for the first time, opponents to play against one another in real time across the Internet. Games like Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty entered into a new generation of competitive gaming over these platforms.

In their announcement, Microsoft justified their decision by saying:

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.

The system was unveiled around the same time as Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3. While the Wii saw initial demand spike out of the gate, Nintendo eventually saw sales flatline and plummet. Still, the Nintendo Wii has sold over 100 million units, surpassing the total Playstation 3 (78.2 million units) and Xbox 360 (80 million units).  In the last couple years the Xbox360 and Playstation 3 have outsold the Nintendo Wii, leaving a muddled answer as to who won the “console wars” of the last generation.

Sales of consoles by manufacturer
Sales of consoles by manufacturer

While Microsoft is ending production of this system, they will continue to provide support in the form of:

  • Continued access to Xbox Live services including access to all servers and apps that they currently use
  • Ability to purchase games online and at retail establishments (while supplies last)
  • Hardware support (visit xbox.com/support)
  • Backward compatability for Xbox One
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Joseph Colangelo is Executive Director of Consumers' Research, the nation's oldest consumer-focused organization. Joseph grew up in Northern New Jersey and attended U.C. Berkeley on a Naval ROTC scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts with a concentration in Political Science.

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