I know a lot of people are already primed and ready to kick this article to the curb, but hear me out, the OG Xbox is one of the greatest consoles of all time. It's even the console that ushered in a lot of the evolutionary technical concepts and industry practices that have become commonplace for just about every modern-day console. Now this isn't to say this was an easy pick for me, because the N64 is a personal favorite of mine, and I could write lovingly about WWF No Mercy all day long, or shower Nintendo with praises for Mario Kart 64 or Super Mario 64. However, if we're talking about what a console achieved and how its lasting impression has completely reshaped the industry, we have to talk about the OG Xbox; the big black box of pure awesome. These are just a few of the reasons why the OG Xbox is one of the greatest game consoles of all time.
First and foremost, the OG Xbox was the first mainstream game console to feature a standardized 8GB hard drive. This was unprecedented at the time; when it came out most gamers were used to paying $20 through $40 bucks for a memory card, which is typically how games were saved. In the case of the OG Xbox it used a built-in hard drive where you could store custom music (more on that later), save your games, and utilize 2GB for caching in order to help reduce load times and dual-stream between the DVD and the data that was cached on the hard drive. This helped the OG Xbox launch games, load games, and reload games far faster than its PS2 counterpart. While the Xbox 360 Arcade Edition lacked a hard drive out of the gate, newer consoles since then have used the OG Xbox's built-in HDD as a standard policy in design, including both Sony and Nintendo. This helps to reduce load times and reduce the wear and tear on the disc drives and media storage devices.
While this can be a contentious topic, the online play for the OG Xbox was arguably one of the biggest game changers in the history of console gaming. Microsoft introducing the paid Xbox Live service may be looked upon with frowns and glares of resentment from gamers who hate having to play online, but it's undeniable that Xbox Live introducing GamerTags, profiles, Gamer Score, and competitive online play for consoles literally changed everything we know about home console gaming. Heck, some of the most popular games these days on home consoles are almost all online-oriented as noted by Ranker. Some of these games include Fortnite, Call of Duty, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Overwatch to name a few. The burgeoning advent of online play for home consoles was marked with the release of OG Xbox games like MechAssault and Halo 2. The world of competitive gaming would never be the same after Xbox Live grew in popularity, and it helped pave the way for the PlayStation Network and Nintendo Network that followed years later.
Asymmetrical Analog Sticks
This may not seem like a really big deal, but the introduction of the asymmetrical analog design with the "Duke" was a serious moment for Microsoft as they pulled the expectations of gamepad designs right out from under the feet of their competitors. The Controller S was a shrunken version of the original "Duke," which was as cumbersome as it was sturdy. While the "Duke" may have introduced the asymmetrical analog sticks, the Controller S had a much sleeker design and brought the buttons closer together while also utilizing an ergonomic feel. It was perfect for shooter games (more on that later) and helped with standardizing the expectations of a comfortable design that didn't forfeit utilitarianism. Microsoft worked with further improving and refining on the asymmetrical analog concept that carried over into the Xbox 360's design, and was later mirrored by Nintendo for the Pro Controller that was introduced for the Nintendo Switch. These days there are many Android mobile controllers and DualShock variants that are also based on the design that was originally popularized by the OG Xbox.
This is probably one of the most understated features that was popularized by the OG Xbox back during the early aughts. Certain games that came out on the OG Xbox allowed users to make use of custom soundtracks that could be stored on the hard drive. These custom tracks could then be used in games like MotoGP, or State of Emergency, Quantum Redshift, and even the very popular Forza Motorsport series. This feature was beloved by anyone who knew about it (and used it) and it also introduced wrestling fans to the first ever inclusion of custom soundtracks in wrestling games like WWE RAW, which allowed users to assign custom tracks to custom wrestlers. This was later improved upon by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and it was even mirrored by Sony for the PlayStation consoles. These days there are now custom music apps you can download to listen to your favorite songs while you play your favorite games on console, showcasing that Microsoft's innovation way back in 2001 really paid off in the long run.
Popularized FPS Games On Console
Even though Golden Eye 64 is probably one of the most popular first-person shooter games on home console, it didn't really create a flurry of clones like one would have imagined. The only other notable first-person shooter out during that era was Perfect Dark 64, but neither Sony nor Nintendo seemed too interested in really pursuing the FPS genre for their consoles. Microsoft, however, took the opposite approach, focusing the OG Xbox on fostering the shooter genre that was previously relegated to PC. One of the biggest problems was the controls, but Microsoft found a way around that with the asymmetrical analog setup, which gamers acclimated to quite readily. With the release of various first-person shooters like Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequel Halo 2, both of which went on to sell millions, it set the stage for making home consoles home for first-person shooters. Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 all followed suit, and the rest is kind of history. It was the popularity and exclusivity of shooter games on Microsoft's big black box that really helped pave the way for the genre to find a stable home on consoles, and now some of the most popular games on home consoles are first-person shooters.