# 4 – the desire to live


I think most people probably know that when Microsoft launched Xbox Live in 2002, it didn’t invent online games for consoles. But here’s a little fun fact for you: Xbox Live launched 19 years ago, and the first examples of pioneering console online work took place almost exactly the same time before Live was introduced. In the early 1980s, the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision had some sort of online option, albeit in an extremely limited capacity – services like GameLine and PlayCable for the two classic consoles did not allow interaction. online with other users, but they allowed access to digital storefronts where new games could be downloaded and played. The low adoption and high costs (both for vendors and gamers) didn’t last particularly long, and when they were discontinued amid the 1983 video game crash, it sent a message to other creators. consoles that the world was not ready for this kind of technology just now. Which, in fairness, was probably pretty accurate.

Sega and Nintendo would later experiment with online technology in Japan at the end of the decade (again, without much success), and continue into the ’90s where the two began to make small strides – the Sega chain for Genesis has proven to be moderately popular. in the US given the cost of the game download service, and the ingenious Super Famicom Satellaview add-on has used networking in a whole new way, with playable games being broadcast at specific times almost like broadcasts. television, leading to new experiences such as the ability to play Zelda games with live narration and voice acting. The next generation saw both companies (and several others) fail to make console online gaming, and it wouldn’t be until the Sega Dreamcast was released in late 1998 in Japan that we would see our first big. console to be released with out-of-the-box online capabilities. It was sort of a Hail Mary from Sega, a bet on the world finally being ready for online console games to give Dreamcast an edge over the upcoming PlayStation 2, with plenty to do after that. Sony’s previous console stomped the Saturn into the ground.

Online services were limited to simple web browsing and news updates via various regional services in the first year until the release of the frenzied puzzle gem ChuChu Rocket! which offered competitive online play. Over the next few years, the Dreamcast games would expand online content to a lot of what we see today – Jet Set Radio offered an early example of user-generated content, with players able to upload their own custom graffiti. or download tags created by others, while the maraca-based musical masterpiece, Samba de Amigo, would introduce the general public to downloadable content by offering several additional tracks for download. Then we had the big hitters, true classics like Quake III Arena and Phantasy Star Online, and while only about 30 games ended up using Dreamcast’s online feature, these are the games you’ll hear cited as introduction of many people to online games. on console. For my part, I dread thinking about how many phone bills I’ve racked up playing PSO for hours. The problem with online play on Dreamcast, however, was that everything was limited to individual games – you wouldn’t have a constant online handle, no system-level friend list, no integration between abilities. online system and games. themselves. Xbox Live would change all that.

Xbox live

We’ve established that Microsoft didn’t invent online console gaming, but it certainly defined it as we know it today. Deployed in November 2002, Xbox Live would solve just about every problem other services have encountered so far, and MS made it clear, even before Live’s official launch, that it was all live. The company even went with Sega, with the Xbox being the first serial console to offer Ethernet connectivity (Dreamcast actually got an adapter later in its life) for smoother gaming over broadband – still a relatively recent technology. and not adopted at the time, so this move was greeted with derision by those who didn’t believe the online infrastructure was there to support broadband console gaming. This was a bold, forward-looking piece from Microsoft, sure, but you kind of have to think that one of the biggest tech companies in the world Probably knows a thing or two about the growth rates of emerging technologies, and MS has found itself in a good position to ride that wave. In addition to a faster broadband connection, Xbox offered another advantage over previous online console attempts: a built-in hard drive. It could be safe for developers to make games for Xbox Live knowing that all The player is said to have fast speeds and storage space, paving the way for things like big DLC ​​and more complex online interactions.

Xbox Live had (almost) everything that had been missing in previous attempts – persistent online handles for gamers, a system-level friend list so you can play with friends much more easily, leaderboards. line, integrated voice communications, etc. a uniform package. It also didn’t hurt that the big games started to come out strong. Games like Dreamcast’s favorite, Phantasy Star Online, the tactical shooter Rainbow Six 3, Burnout 3: Takedown, and a little game called Halo 2 have all blown up, to the point that if you had an Xbox and you had it. broadband, you had have live. These amazing games (and many more) have driven subscriptions up quickly, and Live has hit one million users just over 18 months after launch. A year later, that number had doubled to two million. This thing was going places, and with both Xbox rivals needing additional hardware to connect (and honestly not really having the online libraries to make it worth it), Xbox was able to clean up in the online gaming space through the built-in console ability to connect and play with others.

rainbow six 3 xbox live

The service’s offerings actually increased further in 2004 with the introduction of Xbox Live Arcade, a disc-based store launcher that allowed users to access a selection of retro and indie titles for a nominal fee. It all started to fall into place, and when Microsoft rolled out its tracking console, the new and improved Xbox Live was here from day one, with XBLA, all in one thanks to those early basics of online gaming on the original console. The Xbox 360 had it all, and more … which is probably a good place to leave things for now, in fact, as we’ll cover that “and more” part in tomorrow’s article. No prizes for guessing what I might be talking about – let’s just say that’s why you’re all here in the first place. On TA, I mean. Not alive. It would be a strange article to post on a gaming site.

So who was there initially? OG Live beta testers here with the orange memory unit to prove it? Your favorite experiences on Live at the beginning? Let’s hear this!

About Sara Rodriquez

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