The Xbox One went on sale in North America tonight as gamers thronged thousands of stores at the stroke of midnight.
The launch events on both the West and East coasts were pure hype. But these mark the beginning of a new Xbox One economy. Microsoft sold more than 80 million Xbox 360 systems and generated billions of dollars in sales for Microsoft — and billions more for third-party video game publishers, making video games one of the most important and lucrative industries in the world.
Spike TV broadcast the event — the first Microsoft console launch in seven years — live as if it were the moon landing. The company held big promo events in New York’s Times Square and the Milk Studio in Los Angeles. Midnight openings took place around the world as the countdown finished in each territory.
Fans waited for hours (or days) in the cold in New York. The first to get one in New York had his own green jacket and hoodie, courtesy of Microsoft. Chief product officer Marc Whitten handed out the first box, and Geoff Keighley, host of Spike TV’s GTTV show, counted down the final seconds.
The new box is one of the biggest technical achievements in the entertainment industry, with electronics that have more than 5 billion transistors inside a $500 box. The system begins a new console war with Sony, whose PlayStation 4 went on sale last week and tallied 1 million in sales in its first 24 hours.
Larry Hryb, aka Xbox evangelist Major Nelson, started the broadcast with a segment on Ray Cox, who has earned more than 950,000 Gamerscore points over the last seven years on the Xbox 360 game console. This virtually impossible to do — the average players’s score 8,538. Cox can brag that he has beaten out 80 million other people who own Xbox 360 consoles.
Microsoft treated its first 1,000 New York fans to an exclusive VIP concert with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The first 2,000 were slated to get giveaways that included two games — Powerstar Golf (a cartoonish golf game) and LocoCycle (a motorcycle racing game) — and a six-month Xbox Live Gold membership (this is the top tier of Microsoft’s online service that offers multiplayer modes for games and other media like Netflix or HBO Go, and it requires a paid subscription).
The event will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Pacific time/11 p.m. Eastern on Spike TV. It will also be available on Xbox.com and Xbox Live. Check your local listing for the Spike TV broadcast. In Times Square, zombies, Roman soldiers, and supercars are converging on the Best Buy Theater, where fans are lining up. Microsoft says it will have a couple of thousand systems on hand for those who show up.
In Los Angeles, Microsoft held an official launch event at Milk Studios. There, the first 500 to buy an Xbox One onsite got an exclusive VIP concert with deadmau5 and 7Wallace. Jason Sudeikis of Saturday Night Live fame and various comedies was one of numerous celebrities who showed up in Los Angeles.
Here’s Microsoft’s best pitch, explaining why you need to spend $500 on a video game console.
Vince Zampella and Abbie Heppe of Respawn Entertainment came onstage to promote Titanfall, the Xbox One exclusive title coming in 2014. Keighley said that Zampella will reveal some more Titanfall news at the VGX awards (formerly the VGAs) on Dec. 7. But there wasn’t any big news on the Spike TV special, whereas Sony had a few pieces of news with announcements of a new Uncharted game and downloadable content for The Last of Us.
In Sydney, Australia, the introduction included a fireworks show.
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