Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
They Said WHAT
From X-Box to Xbox to XBOX
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 25, 2009   |   Episode 26 (Show Archive)  


NEXT Generation: They may have been one of the most trusted names in gaming news, but this industry mag was real bad at getting some of the facts right!
It used to be that video game systems came out of nowhere. The media didn't report on their development, the company's didn't leak any information and nobody really cared. But by the late 1990s all that had changed. By that time we had already lived through the 8-bit era, saw the Super NES vs. Genesis battle and chose between the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. We were ready for the next big thing, and for awhile it felt like that was going to be Microsoft's long-rumored "X-Box" game console.

NEXT Generation magazine was there from the beginning, giving us monthly updates about the goings on at Microsoft. They reported on all of the games, the big hardware announcements and so much more. But there was a problem - most of their reporting was erroneous. That's right, NEXT Generation dropped the ball and started reporting rumors as facts and promising much more than any game system could deliver.

NEXT Generation taught America's gamers that you need to be skeptical when it comes to what you read about an unannounced game console. And to help spread that message, we've decided to debunk all of the rumors found in NEXT Generation magazine. In this episode of They Said WHAT?!? we go From X-Box to Xbox to XBOX. We chart the very untrue history of Microsoft's first real game system.

Quote #1 - In the Beginning There Was a Denial
"We [Microsoft] don't have a strategy to do a $200 game console that is a direct competitor to what Nintendo, Sega, and Sony

It all starts with a simple denial from Bill Gates!
are doing, and business model isn't to charge software developers money." - Bill Gates (June 1996).
Reality: We start this history lesson with a little white lie from none other than Bill Gates himself. Let's give Billy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this quote, maybe there wasn't a $200 game console currently in the works. But it couldn't have been too long before Microsoft started to seriously consider it. To start the research and development, to woo third parties and to make games, all these things take time. And considering that the Xbox came out a mere five years later, it stands to reason that Bill and company decided to go full steam ahead almost immediately after talking with Next Generation. And it's a good thing they did, because Microsoft has really pushed the concept of online gaming and downloadable content. If this article will teach you anything, it's that you shouldn't believe a word that is said about a game system before it's announced.

Quote #2 - nVidia over 3Dfx?
"The system will have USB ports for controllers, and an internet hookup is "likely". Like the Dreamcast, the system will have its OS (a WinCE variant) on discs. The system will

This may just be the most boring picture I've ever posted on Defunct Games!
use DVD discs and you will be able to watch DVD movies using the system. It will certainly use DirectX as its graphic API. Although there may be a 3Dfx option, sources indicate nVidia is the target graphic platform." - NEXT Generation (October 1999)
Reality: There are a bunch of rumors here, so I'll try to address each and every one of them in order starting at the top. Early on it seems like NEXT Generation was starting to get their facts straight. For one thing, the Xbox does indeed use USB technology. It also has an internet hook-up. As we all know, the Xbox was the very first console to offer an ethernet jack right out of the box. Of course, we didn't really have a use for that port until a year in, but that's not important in this situation.

Moving on, the Xbox does indeed have an operating system, however it is a custom OS based on a modified version of Windows 2000. This operating system did not come on discs, instead it was pre-packaged with the hard drive. The system did in fact use DVD discs and you were able to watch DVD movies using the system (though you had to buy the official remote control). And last but not least, NEXT Generation was right about Microsoft using nVidia and supporting DirectX. Phew. That sure was a busy paragraph.

Quote #3 - X-Box on the PC (Part 1)
"It's possible that X-Box games will run on PC without modification." - NEXT Generation (October 1999)

You cannot play the original Half-Life on your Xbox!
Reality: No, it will not be possible to play Xbox games on your PC. Not with or without modification. Oh, I suppose there's probably somebody out there who has a working emulator, but that's certainly not something endorsed by Microsoft and was never the purpose of the Xbox disc. I have a hunch I'm going to have to say this again, Xbox games did not work on the PC out of the box, that was not one of the selling points of the game. Instead they played on Microsoft's proprietary game console, just like the PlayStation 2 and GameCube.

What's troubling about this quote is how people just assumed that this would be true, even though there was no track record to back it up. Assuming that Microsoft's console would play PC games because of their involvement on that hardware would be like assuming that tapes will fit in your Sony MP3 player just because they used to make the Walkman. It's a ludicrous assumption, which is probably why it never materialized. Still, how cool would it have been to play all of your PC games on a home console?

Quote #4 - Well Under $300?
"What about cost? Our sources say "well under $300" is the target mark, with a release date scheduled for sometime in fall

Who's afraid of Crash Bandicoot?
2000. Sources also say the marketing budget is designed to beat the PlayStation's." - NEXT Generation (October 1999)
Reality: Well under $300? While the system certainly did launch at under $300, you have to be fast talker to convince me that $299.99 is "well under $300." When I hear NEXT Generation suggest that the system would be "well under $300, that suggests that maybe it will be $250 or $200. But for all intents and purpose, the manufacturer suggested retail price IS $300. That one penny does not make all of the difference. The second part is true, Microsoft definitely put a lot of money towards marketing this device. And, when it comes right down to it, that marketing worked. While the Xbox didn't do well in some parts of the world, in most of the English speaking regions it gave the PlayStation 2 a run for its money. That still doesn't mean that $299.99 is "well under $300."

Quote #5 - Introducing the Microsoft ... Mariner?
"The system will be a non-upgradable, closed box built using top-of-the-line PC components, including a 4 GB hard drive. Although X-Box is the name of the

I have a hunch that this isn't the type of Mariner they had in mind!
device, the development program has the slicker code name, "Mariner." - NEXT Generation (November 1999)
Reality: Mariner?? Okay, let's just forget they said that. Here is yet another example of somebody just pulling numbers out of thin air. It wasn't enough to simply say that the system would come with a hard drive? You know, that would have been a perfectly normal announcement that would have kept them from looking stupid months later. But no, they opted to make up a number. No good ever comes from predicting a number. Unless you are predicting that the next PlayStation console will be called PlayStation 4 ... and even that isn't something I would bet the farm on.

So the Xbox is going to come with a 4 GB hard drive, eh? Well, that's not exactly what happened. You see, a few months after NEXT Generation published this rumor, Microsoft announced that a 20 GB hard drive would be standard with the system. And then, several months after that, Microsoft announced that the hard drive was cut down to ... 8 GB? Unfortunately that's the case, they only gave us 8 GB to work with. Still, that's better than NEXT Generation's fictitious guess.


Did Critics Like Duck Tales in 1989?

From Night Trap to Corpse Killer!


Thimbleweed Park

Persona 5

Delicate Duplicates

comments powered by Disqus