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The 30 Defining Moments in Gaming History

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Just read this feature over on Next Generation, a great article on the last 30 Years in Gaming. Ah, I lived through so many of them, it's not funny! Here's a clip:
2002: Live from Redmond
If the Dreamcast dragged consoles online in 1999, Microsoft pioneered the coherent online experience in November 2002 with Xbox Live. The idea: provide a seamless, uniform experience for any online game on the Xbox. The system uses a single user identity across all Live games, called a gamertag, which players use to connect to the system and communicate with friends. A player's gamertag also carries a reputation, an attempt to temper online misbehavior similar to eBay user feedback. Since each Xbox contained a hard drive, Microsoft could offer downloads of additional data, like extra levels, to complement Xbox Live-enabled games. Many games even included online voice communication, a technology which was still uncommon in computer games where users had been more likely to have the necessary hardware.

Of course Microsoft didn't give away their new service for free. The original starter package cost a cool $50, and included 12 months of service along with a headset. After the first year Microsoft began charging $50 for 12 months of service and bumped the starter packages to $70. By the end of 2003, Microsoft began offering Premium Content, downloadable add-ons for games for a modest price of $5 or more. Microsoft's killer-app, Halo 2, launched in 2004 with Xbox Live multiplayer and within 12 months the number of Xbox Live accounts doubled to 2 million.

Xbox Live did more than line the pockets of Microsoft, however. It made an online service essential to the modern console. Even recalcitrant Nintendo, previously dismissive of consoles online, put its new Wii online within months of its Holiday 2006 launch.

Microsoft wasn't the only company dreaming of selling 0s and 1s online. Valve released its Steam 1.0 client along with Counter-strike 1.4 in early 2002, sowing the seeds for what would eventually become an empire of virtual game sales. While it was initially limited to game patching, Steam eventually grew into a large content-delivery system and online community. By 2004, Steam was used to pre-install Valve's Half-life 2 before the game reached store shelves and in 2007 is selling games for independent developers and traditional publishers alike.

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:31 PM |

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