The Xbox One is an eighth-generation home video game console developed by Microsoft. Announced in May 2013, it is the successor to Xbox 360 and the third console in the Xbox series of video game consoles. It was first released in North America, parts of Europe, Australia, and South America in November 2013, and in Japan, China, and other European countries in September 2014. It is the first Xbox game console to be released in China, specifically in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. Microsoft marketed the device as an "all-in-one entertainment system", hence the name 'Xbox One'. The Xbox One mainly competes against Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch.
Moving away from its predecessor's PowerPC-based architecture, the Xbox One marks a shift back to the x86 architecture used in the original Xbox; it features an AMD Accelerated Processing Unit built around the x86-64 instruction set. Xbox One's controller was redesigned over the Xbox 360's, with a redesigned body, D-pad, and triggers capable of delivering directional haptic feedback. The console places an increased emphasis on cloud computing, as well as social networking features, and the ability to record and share video clips or screenshots from gameplay, or live-stream directly to streaming services such as Mixer and Twitch. Games can also be played off-console via a local area network on supported Windows 10 devices. The console can play Blu-ray Disc, and overlay live television programming from an existing set-top box or a digital tuner for digital terrestrial television with an enhanced program guide. The console optionally included a redesigned Kinect sensor, marketed as the "Kinect 2.0", providing improved motion tracking and voice recognition.
The Xbox One received positive reviews for its refined controller design, multimedia features, and voice navigation. Its quieter and cooler design was praised for making the console more reliable than its predecessor on-launch, but the console was generally criticized for running games at a technically lower graphical level than the PlayStation 4. Its original user interface was panned for being nonintuitive, although changes made to it and other aspects of the console's software post-launch received a positive reception. Its Kinect received praise for its improved motion-tracking accuracy, its face recognition logins, and its voice commands.
The original Xbox One model was succeeded by the Xbox One S in 2016, which has a smaller form factor and support for HDR10 high-dynamic-range video, as well as support for 4K video playback and upscaling of games from 1080p to 4K. It was praised for its smaller size, its on-screen visual improvements, and its lack of an external power supply, but its regressions such as the lack of a native Kinect port were noted. A high-end model, named Xbox One X, was unveiled in June 2017 and released in November; it features upgraded hardware specifications and support for rendering games at 4K resolution. The Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition were discontinued in July 2020 as to prepare for the upcoming Xbox Series X console in late 2020.
HistoryThe Xbox One is the successor to Xbox 360, Microsoft's previous video game console, which was introduced in 2005 as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. Over the years, the 360 had received a number of small hardware revisions to reduce the unit's size and improve its reliability. In 2010, Microsoft's Chris Lewis stated that the 360 was about "halfway" through its lifecycle; this was aided by the introduction of the Kinect motion sensor that year, which Lewis stated would extend the lifecycle by five years.
Initial hardware for the 360's successor, commonly referred to by the industry as the "Xbox 720", was reportedly under development as early as May 2011. The official developer kit was codenamed Durango, and appeared to be available to developers by mid-2012. Leaked documents suggested that the new console would include an improved Kinect sensor, cloud access to games and media, integration with phone and tablet devices, and technology to provide players heads-up displays on glasses worn by the player, codenamed "Fortaleza"; Microsoft did not comment on these reported features. Leaked design documents also suggested that Microsoft was seeking to eliminate the ability to play used games, though Microsoft later clarified it was still reviewing the design and were "thinking about what is next and how we can push the boundaries of technology like we did with Kinect", but did not comment on the validity of the information.
Initial unveiling and launchPrior to the official unveiling, rumors had circulated that the next Xbox console would be an "always on" system requiring a persistent Internet connection, though Microsoft had not confirmed this. This had drawn some concerns from consumers, which were heightened when Microsoft Studios employee Adam Orth stated in a Twitter message in April 2013 that said "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console...Every device now is 'always on.' That's the world we live in. #dealwithit". Orth's message drew further ire towards Microsoft, with concerns about digital rights management and practices against the sale of used games with an "always on" unit. Orth opted to leave Microsoft a few days later due to the backlash. Despite Microsoft's statements following the situation, denying the rumors, the mood it created lingered over the next several months.
In a press conference on May 21, 2013, the new console was publicly unveiled under the name Xbox One, and was presented as an all-in-one home entertainment device. The event focused heavily on the device's multimedia capabilities, demonstrating integration with television for over 30 minutes before any video games were shown. In a 2019 interview, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, recalled that this approach not only confused consumers about the intent of the Xbox One, but also Microsoft employees who had been working on the console. Spencer stated that several employees complained to him about the presentation "blow up all the good work that 've done by talking about the product in a way that's not really matching what the soul of an Xbox console is about and what customers are looking for from ".
As a result of the negative feedback from the May presentation, the press event for E3 2013 focused on the video game functionality of the Xbox One first and foremost; Don Mattrick, then Microsoft's president of Interactive Entertainment Business, described the event as "all about the games". At the event, Microsoft announced that the console would be released in 21 different markets on November 22, 2013, but this was later amended down to 13. The change, which pushed the release date for the other eight markets to 2014, was attributed to unforeseen complexity in localizing the device's voice recognition capabilities. In September 2014, the Xbox One was released in 26 markets, including remaining markets in Europe, the Japanese market, and Middle Eastern markets.
Microsoft initially announced a different game licensing scheme for Xbox One than what was used upon its release: all games, including those purchased at retail, would be bound to the user's Xbox Live account. Users could access their purchased games from any other Xbox One console, play games without their disc once installed, and allow users to "share" their games with up to ten designated "family" members. If a publisher allowed a game to be traded or resold, users could do this at "participating retailers", and could also transfer a game directly to any Xbox Live friend on their list for at least 30 days, but only once per game. To synchronize licenses, the console would be required to connect to the internet once every 24 hours; if the console could not connect, all games would be disabled until the console was connected again.
Reaction to this digital rights management scheme was extremely negative in light of the previous concerns about the "always on" console from earlier in the year. Critics felt that the changes would infringe on consumers' first-sale rights for games purchased on physical media, as games would only be licensed to users rather than sold, and the disc itself would only be used to install the game and not confer ownership of its license or permission to resell. Microsoft also stated that game publishers would decide whether the physical copies of their games would be eligible for resale, and could impose restrictions or activation fees on second-hand copies of games. In addition, loaning or renting games would not be possible at the console's launch, and Microsoft was "exploring the possibilities" with its partners. GameSpot editor Tom Mcshea went on to say that Microsoft had become anti-consumerist, trying to "punish their loyal customers" with strict restrictions, and that "by saying no to the used game restrictions and always-online that Microsoft is so happily implementing on the Xbox One, Sony has elevated the PlayStation 4 as the console to grab this holiday season." Xbox Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Yusuf Mehdi explained that the system was built with digital distribution in mind, but that Microsoft wanted to maintain the availability of games on physical media. He also noted that Microsoft was not "giving in" to publishers' objections to used games, but rather trying to balance the needs of consumers and the industry, and that the trading and sharing abilities of the platform added a level of flexibility not seen on other online distribution platforms at the time.
On June 19, 2013, shortly after E3 2013, Microsoft announced that it would change its policy Xbox One's DRM and game licensing model and reverse course. As with the Xbox 360, users would be able to share and resell physical games without restrictions, and beyond a mandatory software update upon the console's initial setup process to enable playback of Blu-ray and DVD video, the console would not require a permanent internet connection to operate. These changes required the family sharing features, along with the ability to play games without their disc after installation, to be dropped. Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten stated that the family sharing feature may return in the future, but could not be implemented on launch due to time restraints. Don Mattrick, then president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, stated that the licensing changes were in response to the negative public reaction. Other analysts believed the change was in direct response to Sony's aggressive position during its E3 conference. On July 1, 2013, Mattrick, who had been a leader in development on the Xbox One, announced his departure from Microsoft to become CEO of Zynga. Analysts speculated that his departure was predicated on the poor response and subsequent reversal of the plans for Xbox One.
In response to these pre-launch changes and a belief that Microsoft's initial decisions for the console were in poor judgement, journalists and consumers jokingly gave the Xbox One nicknames such as the "Xbox 180", in reference to the Xbox 360 and Microsoft's decision to reverse its controversial decisions, and "Xbone", suggesting that the company was "throwing a bone" to consumers by making these changes.
Subsequent updatesIn 2015, four members of an international hacking group pleaded guilty to gaining unauthorized access to Microsoft's computer network and obtaining sensitive information relating to Xbox One and Xbox Live. At the time of the security breach, Microsoft was in the development stage for its next-generation gaming system. Between 2011 and 2013, the hackers spent hundreds of hours searching through Microsoft's network copying log-in credentials, source code, technical specifications, and other data. Group members say they were driven by an immense curiosity about Microsoft's then-unreleased Xbox One console and associated software. "Using stolen access credentials", two of the hackers also committed a physical theft by entering "a secure building on Microsoft's Redmond Washington campus" and carrying away three "Durango" development kits.
On June 13, 2016, during its E3 2016 press conference, Microsoft unveiled Xbox One S, a revision of the original Xbox One hardware with a streamlined form factor and support for HDR10 and 4K video. The Xbox One S replaced the original launch hardware which had been discontinued around the same time. Microsoft also teased a high-end version of Xbox One with upgraded hardware codenamed "Project Scorpio", which was unveiled and released the following year as Xbox One X. After failing to attract interest from game developers and users, Microsoft had also began to phase out Kinect from the consumer market—removing the proprietary connector used by the device on these newer Xbox One models, and requiring a special adapter to break the connector out into USB and AC power connections.
On April 16, 2019, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which included three digital games, Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves and Minecraft. The console does not have a physical disc drive, and all games must be downloaded. It is $50 cheaper than the Xbox One S at $249 and was made available on May 7, 2019.
On July 16, 2020, Microsoft announced that it had ended production of the Xbox One X and all-digital version of the Xbox One S, in preparation for production of future hardware; as of July 2020, only the Xbox One S remains in production.
DesignThe original Xbox One's exterior casing consists of a two-tone "liquid black" finish; with half finished in a matte grey, and the other in a glossier black. The matte side of the top of the console consists of a large air vent. The design was intended to evoke a more entertainment-oriented and simplified look than previous iterations of the console; among other changes, the LED rings used by Xbox 360 are replaced by a glowing white Xbox logo used to communicate the system's status to the user. Due to the overall ventilation design of the console, the original Xbox One is designed to only sit horizontally.
Xbox One S utilizes a refreshed version of this design, with a case that is 40% smaller in size and supports vertical orientation with a stand. The main Xbox One S SKU is colored in an entirely matte "Robot White" finish, with half of the console adorned with machined holes, and a visible circular vent on top of the console's right half. It utilizes push-button controls rather than capacitive keys, the side USB port and controller sync button were moved to the front of the console, and its power supply is integrated into the console's casing rather than sitting externally.
InternalsThe Xbox One is powered by an AMD "Jaguar" Accelerated Processing Unit with two quad-core modules totaling eight x86-64 cores clocked at 1.75 GHz, and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM with a memory bandwidth of 68.3 GB/s. The memory subsystem also features an additional 32 MB of "embedded static" RAM, or ESRAM, with a memory bandwidth of 109 GB/s. For simultaneous read and write operations, the ESRAM is capable of a theoretical memory bandwidth of 192 GB/s and a memory bandwidth of 133 GB/s has been achieved with operations that involved alpha transparency blending. The system includes a non-replaceable hard drive and a Blu-ray Disc optical drive. 138 GB of hard drive space is used by the operating system, with the remainder available for the storage of games. Since the June 2014 software update, up to two USB drives can be connected to Xbox One to expand its capacity. External drives must support USB 3.0 and have a capacity of at least 256 GB.
It was reported that 3 GB of RAM would be reserved for the operating system and utility software, leaving 5 GB for games. With DirectX 11.2 as the console's API, the graphics processing unit is based on an AMD GCN architecture with 12 compute units, which have a total of 768 cores, running at 853 MHz providing an estimated peak theoretical power of 1.31 TFLOPS. For networking, Xbox One supports Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless, and Wi-Fi Direct.
The original Xbox One supports 1080p and 720p video output; unlike the Xbox 360, the Xbox One does not support 1080i and other interlaced resolutions. Xbox One supports HDMI 1.4 for both input and output, and does not support composite or component video. Xbox One supports 7.1 surround sound, Dolby Atmos, and.
Xbox One S additionally supports 2160p video output, and high dynamic range color using HDR10. 4K video can be played from supported streaming services and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, however, since Xbox One S is a first-generation Ultra HD Blu-ray player, it cannot output the dynamic HDR10+ or Dolby Vision metadata from a disc encoded with either or both formats Games are upscaled from 1080p resolution, and are not rendered at 4K. The GPU on Xbox One S has a higher clock speed and ESRAM bandwidth than the original model, which can provide some performance improvements on games with dynamic resolution scaling or uncapped frame rates.
The console can monitor its internal temperature and adjust accordingly to prevent overheating; alongside increasing fan speed, additional measures can be taken, including forcing the hardware to run in a lower power state—a feature that was not present on Xbox 360. Restricting power consumption lowers maximum performance, but the setting would be intended as a last resort to prevent permanent hardware damage.
ControllerThe Xbox One's controller maintains the overall layout found in the Xbox 360's controller, but with various refinements to its form. Among its changes include a smoother form, textured analog sticks, a four-way directional pad, and redesigned triggers and shoulder buttons with a curved shape for ergonomics. "Menu" and "View" buttons have replaced the Start and Back buttons. Each trigger features independent rumble motors called "Impulse Triggers", which allows developers to program directional vibration. One trigger can be made to vibrate when firing a gun, or both can work together to create feedback that indicates the direction of an incoming hit. The controller also contains light emitters that allow it to be tracked and paired using the Kinect sensor, and to detect when it's not being held to automatically enter a low-power state. An updated revision of the controller was released in June 2015, which includes a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and other minor changes. A third revision was introduced alongside and first bundled with Xbox One S, with textured grips and Bluetooth support.
The Xbox One controller includes a micro USB port; when attached via a micro-USB cable, the controller can operate without battery power and can charge remotely, and is supported on computers running Windows 7 or later with drivers. The Xbox One Wireless Adapter accessory allows wireless use of Xbox One controllers on Windows computers also running Windows 7 or later.
The Elite Wireless Controller was released in October 2015. It was described and marketed as "an elite controller for the elite gamer", containing interchangeable parts, "hair trigger locks" for the triggers that allow users to reduce the amount of distance they must be pressed to register a press, and software for remapping buttons.
In May 2018, Microsoft announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller—a special controller designed for users with disabilities. It features two large dome-like buttons, and a series of connectors corresponding to standard Xbox controller buttons—which are used to attach specific types of buttons and other assertive peripherals. The controller can also be used in conjunction with Copilot—a feature introduced in 2017 that allows multiple controllers to be used in tandem on behalf of a single player.
As of the November 2018 update, developers may now optionally allow their titles to support computer mice and keyboards as input. Microsoft also unveiled an exclusive partnership with Razer Inc. to produce a specific line of Xbox-optimized keyboard and mice peripherals, with Xbox system keys and support for Razer's Chroma LED lighting platform.
Kinect 2.0 sensorThe Kinect 2.0, an updated natural user interface sensor, was redesigned and recreated to provide motion-tracking and voice commands for the Xbox One.
Kinect 2.0 features a wide-angle time-of-flight camera and a 1080p camera, in comparison to the VGA resolution of the Xbox 360 version, and processes 2GB of data per second to map its environment. Kinect 2.0 has an improved accuracy over its predecessor; it can track up to 6 people simultaneously, referred to as "skeletons", perform heart rate tracking, track controller gestures, and read QR codes to redeem Xbox Live gift cards. By default, voice recognition is active at all times, so the console can receive voice commands from the user, even when the console is in sleep mode. It is possible to wake the console with a command, although settings are available to change which individual Kinect functions are active.
Prior to and after the mandate, all Xbox One consoles initially shipped with the Kinect sensor included. On June 9, 2014, cheaper Xbox One bundles were introduced, which did not include the Kinect sensor. Microsoft stated the decision to offer Xbox One bundles without Kinect was to " a choice to people that would allow people to buy an Xbox One and then ramp up to Kinect when they can afford to", while also allowing games to use processing power that was previously reserved for Kinect. An updated Xbox Development Kit issued in June 2014 allows developers to explicitly disable motion tracking functionality in games, allowing access to additional system resources that represent about 10% of the GPU processing power. These resources were previously reserved for Kinect skeletal tracking, regardless of whether the Kinect sensor was attached or in use.
A Windows compatible Kinect 2.0 was released on July 15, 2014. Kinect 2.0 was released as a standalone and optional item in October 2014; it is bundled with a digital copy of Dance Central Spotlight.
Xbox One S lacks the Kinect connection port, requiring a USB/power adapter to use the accessory. A free USB adapter was provided by Microsoft to Kinect owners who registered their ownership of Kinect and Xbox One S online up until March 2017. The adapter was sold separately thereafter, but has since been discontinued. Kinect for Xbox One was officially discontinued on October 25, 2017.
Software and servicesThe Xbox One runs two operating systems within a hypervisor; games run within one separate operating system, while apps and the user interface run within a stripped-down version of Microsoft Windows; the original system software was based on Windows 8, but it has since been changed to Windows 10. This architecture allows resources to be allocated specifically to different aspects of the console's functions, including multitasking and Kinect processing, ensuring an "absolute guarantee of performance" for games. Xbox One supports Universal Windows Platform apps, which can be designed to run across Xbox One, Windows 10, and Windows 10 Mobile in synchronization with the Windows platform.
Xbox One's user interface uses Microsoft's Fluent Design System; previous iterations of the console's software used the Metro design language. The dashboard is divided into "Home", "Mixer", "Community", "Entertainment", and "Store" sections, with the "Home" page further divided into "blocks" that can display pinned games/apps, as well as other content. Pressing the Xbox Guide button opens a sidebar with access to common functions such as the friends list, apps, the user's party, and settings. Users can go back to the dashboard while using games or apps using either the Xbox button on their controller or a voice command; up to four apps can run at once, but only one game can run at a time. Use of Kinect enables the ability to control the console via voice commands. Xbox One's voice control capabilities are similar to, albeit richer than those of Xbox 360. The voice assistant Cortana was added in 2016 to provide expanded voice command functionality with natural language recognition.
The dashboard originally used a layout similar to Windows 8's "Start screen", with a horizontal-scrolling, tile-based interface. This design was replaced for Xbox Preview Program members in September 2015 with the current interface, known as "the New Xbox One Experience", which was publicly released as part of the November 12, 2015 system update. Alongside its new layout, support for Kinect motion controls on the dashboard were removed.
The UI was refreshed again in April 2017, adding the new Guide sidebar and other new features. At this time, the ability to "snap" apps as a sidebar for multi-tasking was removed. The UI was further revamped in October 2017 to use elements of Fluent Design System, and adds a light color scheme option for the console's user interface.
Multimedia featuresThe Xbox One can view and play content from DLNA servers and USB storage devices using the "Media Player" app. An application allows playback of video from Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD media.
The console provides the ability to feed live television by serving as an HDMI pass-through for an existing television provider's set-top box or an optional Digital TV Tuner accessory that allows use of digital terrestrial television. The console provides its own electronic program guide known as OneGuide, augmenting the existing streaming functionality to provide show recommendations based on viewing history, integrated access to "App Channels" corresponding to online video services, and voice control via Kinect. The set-top box and television are controlled by OneGuide using an IR blaster.
The Xbox One does not provide full DVR functionality for recording television programs: executive Yusuf Mehdi indicated that the console would "work in tandem" with existing television services, but that Microsoft would need to work with them directly to provide extended functionality, such as DVR integration. The digital TV tuner accessory allows limited DVR functionality for pausing and rewinding live TV for up to 30 minutes. In June 2016, Microsoft announced that their plans for full DVR functionality for the Xbox One were on hold.
Xbox LiveThe Xbox Live service has been scaled up to use 300,000 servers for Xbox One users. Cloud storage is available to save music, films, games and saved content, and developers are able to use Live servers to offer dynamic in-game content and other functionality. Users can have up to 1,000 friends. The December 2016 software update added the new social networking feature Clubs, which allows users to join groups focused on specific interests or games, and Looking for group, a system to help users locate players to join their party for multiplayer play.
Players can use the Upload Studio app to edit and share clips from the last five minutes of gameplay footage that is automatically recorded by the console. Games can also be developed so that recording can automatically be triggered in response to notable events, such as achievements. Xbox One supports streaming directly to the services Mixer and Twitch. Users can use voice commands to immediately begin streaming footage of their current game directly to the service, and use Kinect's camera and microphone to record video and audio narration. Users can feature recorded clips on their Xbox Live profile page in a "Showcase" section.
As with Xbox 360, premium online features such as multiplayer, voice communication, broadcasting and Upload Studio require an Xbox Live Gold subscription to use. Unlike Xbox 360, a user's Xbox Live Gold subscription benefits apply to all other users of their designated "home" console as well, rather than requiring a separate subscription for each user. Since June 2014, applications no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership to use. Additional subscriptions for outside services such as Netflix may still be required. Microsoft also extended its Games with Gold program to Xbox One, providing free Xbox 360 and Xbox One games to Xbox Live Gold subscribers on a monthly basis.
Second screen and streamingThe Xbox SmartGlass app provides extended functionality on Xbox One, allowing devices running Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS and Android to be used as a companion device for Xbox One features, such as powering on the console, a remote control, accessing messages and the Activity Feed, purchasing content, and providing integration with certain games and content. The SmartGlass app can also be used to stream live television to Android and Windows devices if the console is using a USB digital television tuner.
On Windows 10, SmartGlass is succeeded by the Xbox App, which supports the local streaming of games from Xbox One to personal computers and tablets running Windows 10. An Xbox One controller must be used, but Windows-compatible headsets and microphones can be used for voice chat. Games requiring Kinect are not supported, while Game DVR and online streaming are not available while using this functionality.
Per a partnership with Oculus VR, users will also be able to stream Xbox One games to the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset by means of Xbox app for Windows 10; as of 2015 there were no immediate plans for direct integration between Xbox One and Oculus Rift.
GamesXbox One games are distributed physically on Blu-ray Disc, and digitally as downloads through Microsoft Store. All Xbox One games must be installed to the console's storage: one can begin to play portions of a game once the installation or download reaches a specific point, while the remainder of the game is downloaded or installed in the background. However, for older titles, one must wait until installation is completed to play.
Updates to games and system software are also downloaded in the background and while in standby. If the game is installed from physical media, the disc is still required for validation purposes. If the game is installed on another console, and that console owner no longer has access to the disc, the owner has the option of unlocking the install on their hard drive by purchasing it through Xbox Live; the installed game then acts as a game installed on the hard drive. An active internet connection may be required for some games, particularly those that rely on server-side processing.
Microsoft introduced an Early access program known as in 2015, which allows developers to launch unfinished games for consumers to purchase and beta test before its official launch. Since June 2017, games may be promoted with additional icons that denote compatibility with hardware enhancements found in newer Xbox One models, including support for high-dynamic-range colors, native rendering at 4K resolution, and specific optimizations for Xbox One X.
In February 2017, Microsoft introduced a "on-demand" subscription service known as Xbox Game Pass, separate from Xbox Live Gold, which allows users to download and play games from its library for the life of the subscription. In April 2019, Microsoft also introduced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which bundles Game Pass with an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Backward compatibilitybackward compatibility with original Xbox or Xbox 360 games, and at the time Microsoft stated it had no plans for any form of backward compatibility on the console. Don Mattrick, head of the company's Interactive Entertainment Business at the time, said in an interview that he didn't see backwards compatibility as a problem and stated that "If you're backwards compatible, you're backwards". According to Mattrick, investing in backward compatibility wasn't worth the company's time and resources, as only 5% of Microsoft's customers played older games on new video game consoles.
However, backward compatibility had been a planned launch feature by Microsoft and had been actively under development as early as 2007 under the "Trioxide" program as to get Xbox 360 code to run on 64-bit hardware. Rather than going the route of the initial PlayStation 3 which included a core PlayStation 2 system-on-a-chip processor, the Xbox One hardware was designed to include support for Xbox 360 XMA and texture processing in hardware, knowing this would be computationally expensive and inefficient to replicate in software. Following criticism of its plan for an "always on" console from the May 2013 announcement, Microsoft had to put significant effort to prepare the Xbox One software for a revised approach, and the backwards compatibility development work were put on hold. Interim solutions were suggested: senior project management and planning director Albert Penello explained that Microsoft was initially considering a cloud gaming platform to enable backward compatibility, but he felt it would be "problematic" due to varying internet connection qualities. Xbox Live director of programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb did state that users could theoretically use the HDMI-in port on the console to pass an Xbox 360 through the Xbox One. This process does generate a small amount of unnoticeable display lag.
Following the release of the Xbox One and transition of Phil Spencer to the head of the Xbox division in 2014, he and software engineering vice president Kareem Choudhry restarted the backwards compatibility program in relative secret within the company. Choudhry brought on previous engineers that worked on Trioxide, including Kevin La Chapelle, Jonathan Morrison, and Barry Bond, to restart the program. The team chose to start with Castle Crashers, which included Xbox networking features, to test backwards compatibility. Castle Crashers frequently crashed to a screen with alphanumeric codes, which La Chapelle was able to obtain from the game's developers, The Behemoth, which helped them to rapidly diagnose problems and fix the compatibility issues. Solving most of the major problems through Castle Crashers, the background compatibility team decided to let the program be announced at E3 2015 with plans to have one hundred titles available by the end of 2015. However, by E3, they still found problems with some games running at extremely low framerates. During the event, Morrison recognized that a fundamental difference between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One was its scheduling rate, and when they returned, Morrison's idea helped them to rapidly complete work to meet its promised goal by the end of that year. Individual games still brought some difficulty, specifically , but this prompted the team to develop automatic tools that could be used to identify where Xbox 360 titles would be difficult to run as-is on the Xbox One and how to work around those; this further set up the potential to improve Xbox 360 games on the future iterations of the Xbox One, such as the Xbox One X to improve graphics support.
Xbox 360 backward compatibility uses "Fission", a software emulator within the system software; 104 Xbox 360 titles were supported at the feature's public launch, with more added in the following months. Xbox 360 games contained within Rare Replay are packaged as standalone applications using the Xbox 360 emulation. Microsoft stated that publishers would only need to provide permission to the company to allow the repackaging, and it expected the number of supported games to increase significantly over time. Microsoft, along with fourteen other third-party publishers, will offer supported games, and all Games with Gold titles on Xbox 360 since November 2015 are made compatible.
On June 10, 2019, Microsoft stated that it had wound down the addition of new titles to the backwards compatibility program in order to focus on Xbox One's successor.
Original Xbox compatibilityXbox division head Phil Spencer had also hinted the possibility of adding support for games from the original Xbox. For the backwards compatibility team, after they completed the framework for Xbox 360 compatibility so that other engineering teams could take over, they turned to the question of compatibility with the original Xbox console. The program was started in November 2016, under the code name "Fusion", and was led by software engineer Spencer Perreault. Perreault initially tried the same approaches as the team had done with "Fission", but due to the differences in memory management sizes and chipset bit-rates, these initial tests failed. Instead, Perreault worked to bring "Dolphin", a developer tool for the original Xbox, working to get its emulation correct. La Chapelle brought in a number of personal Xbox titles to test in Perreault's emulation, getting about a 10% "hit rate" on successes, though the variety of failures helped Perreault to identify common problems, and within a month, had improved the successful hit rate to about 90%. As with Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, the Fusion emulation enables Xbox games to be scaled to 1080p resolutions, work with Xbox One networking features, and can allow mixed-console System Link connection between all three generations of Xbox.
With Perreault's success, Microsoft announced the Xbox backwards compatibility on the Xbox One in June 2017. Thirteen titles were initially released on October 24, 2017. Microsoft announced an additional 19 titles to be added to the Xbox One service during April 2018.
Microsoft does not anticipate that there will be as many Xbox titles brought to the program as with the Xbox 360, primarily due to legal issues related to intellectual property, contracts, and companies that have since gone defunct.
Pre-releaseWhile the initial unveiling of the Xbox One in May 2013 created criticism that led to significant changes in the digital rights management scheme it would use, other features of the console were highlighted by journalists. The editorial staff of Game Informer offered both praise and criticism for the console. Matt Helgeson described the console as Microsoft's intent to "control the living room". He called Xbox One's instant switching features "impressive", and that the console was "a step in the right direction" with regards to TV entertainment, especially the prospect of avoiding the usage of non-intuitive user interfaces often found on cable set-top boxes. Jeff Cork said that Microsoft had "some great ideas" for the console, but that it failed to properly communicate them.
Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference was criticized for focusing too much on games that, beyond increased graphical capabilities, provided experiences that were otherwise similar to previous-generation games—giving little incentive for buying the new console. Rafi Mohammed, author of "The Art of Pricing", felt that Microsoft priced Xbox One "too high" and that the $100 premium over its competitor could "derail" the system during the 2013 holiday season.
Critical receptionUpon its release, the Xbox One received favorable reviews from critics and reviewers. In its launch review, Polygon gave the Xbox One an 8/10. Its design was described as "inoffensive" but its larger size noted, while the console's quieter and cooler operation was praised for indicating a potentially higher reliability than Xbox 360 was on-launch. The controller was praised for its battery life and "premium" design, but some members of the site's staff felt that its shoulder buttons were stiffer than that of previous designs. The design of Xbox One's interface received mixed reviews: noting that it carried over Windows 8's design language, the interface was disfavored for hiding functions under the controller's menu button and for being awkward to use with a controller or motion gestures, seemingly encouraging users to use voice navigation instead. While praised for having more "robust" voice navigation than Xbox 360, they felt that voice navigation still had a "learning curve in understanding what works and what doesn't." Although its user following, Smart Match, and improved voice chat features were noted, Xbox Live was panned for not offering the option on-launch to add a real name to user profiles. Despite a regression in local and network multimedia functionality in comparison to Xbox 360 and how OneGuide interacted with outside set-top boxes, Polygon felt the Xbox One's overall multimedia experience "feels like a major step forward in set-top boxes and makes the Xbox One the obvious center of any living room that has one."
Ben Gilbert of Engadget was similarly modest upon its launch, assigning the console a score of 81/100 and describing the Xbox One's design as a "1993 artist's rendering of 2013's technology". Acknowledging that its controller was a mere refinement of the "ubiquit" Xbox 360 design, he praised the controller for its improved D-pad and quieter triggers but criticized its stiff shoulder buttons. Kinect received positive reviews for its face recognition login and improved motion tracking, but that whilst "magical", "every false positive or unrecognized command had us reaching for the controller." The overall interface was also considered more intuitive and flexible than that of PlayStation 4, but its game library view was described as being a "jumbled, sadly unfilterable rows of every owned piece of software", that also knowingly listed games that require their disc to run alongside those which did not. The console was also panned for missing certain promised features on-launch, such as Upload Studio, game streaming, and certain apps/services.
Later on, critics felt that the Xbox One's functionality had matured over the year following its launch; Jeff Bakalar of CNET, assigning it a score of 8/10, acknowledged improvements to Xbox One's software since its original release, but that its user interface was still unintuitive in comparison to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4, explaining that "navigating the interface seems to be much more problematic than it rightfully should be, and there's simply not enough transparency in the logic within it. There are oddities peppered throughout, which is the root for countless headaches and frustrations." Xbox One's in-game performance was mixed, with some titles showing slower performance over PS4, but some multi-platform games performing better on Xbox One than PS4. CNET praised the wider lineup of multimedia services and apps on Xbox One over PS4, not requiring Xbox Live Gold for online save data storage, support for high-speed USB 3.0 as secondary storage, and having a "slightly better" lineup of upcoming exclusives, concluding that "While the PS4 had a clear advantage at launch, that edge is slowly evaporating as Microsoft has worked feverishly to undo most of the Xbox One's original missteps."
Nick Pino of TechRadar, giving it four stars out of five, similarly felt that the Xbox One " more like a media titan today than it did 12 months ago," citing OneGuide, Upload Studio, and Microsoft's decision to drop the Xbox Live Gold requirement for multimedia streaming apps, and that "there's still a lot of potential locked away inside the hardware of the system that developers are just beginning to figure out. So while PlayStation might have the upper hand for now when it comes to certain third-party titles, it may not always remain that way. Just how Microsoft will get it to that point, though, is still a mystery." However, he disfavored the console's dependence upon a subscription for most of its functionality, Kinect's voice recognition, and that some games do not natively run at 1080p resolution, but are upscaled. In an August 2016 review of the Xbox One S model, TechRadar further commended Microsoft's recent improvements to Xbox One, citing a strong lineup of first-party titles in 2015 and further improvements to the console's interface.
Alaina Yee of IGN also praised how Xbox One had evolved since its launch, assigning it with Kinect a score of 8.1/10 and acknowledging that Microsoft had "made good on its promise of listening to consumers, rolling out a steady stream of updates that have both broadened and deepened what this third Xbox console offers." Regarding the console's slightly lower level of graphics capabilities in comparison to PlayStation 4, it was noted that "while videophiles might spot instances of upscaled graphics and less detailed environments immediately, most people generally won't notice a difference between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of a game unless they see both running side by side", and examples of "gorgeous" Xbox One games were noted, such as Sunset Overdrive and Forza Motorsport 5. The number of "hidden" options in Xbox One's user interface was equated to "hunting for treasure in a messy room"; as such, Kinect voice commands, in combination with access to common functions within the Xbox SmartGlass app, were praised for helping to provide a more streamlined user experience.
The Xbox One S revision was critically praised for its improvements over the original model, including its streamlined design, the addition of HDR and 4K video support, and visual improvements on some games when upscaled to 4K. However, TechRadar noted regressions such as the lack of a Kinect port, and concerns that the revised hardware and HDR support would lead to fragmentation of Xbox One's ecosystem, as not all users will necessarily experience a game the same way.
Dieter Bohn of The Verge similarly felt that although it was one of the cheapest 4K Blu-ray players on the market, consumers were more interested in streaming 4K content than 4K Blu-ray discs, and noted the small number of HDR-enabled games on launch. Bohn concluded that the Xbox One S would appeal best to new owners or those who wish to leverage its HDR and 4K support, but recommended that existing owners consider Xbox One X instead.
Lack of exclusive titlesThe Xbox One platform has faced criticism for lacking in exclusive releases over competitors such as PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Although there have been releases in flagship Microsoft franchises such as Forza and Halo, they have underperformed in comparison to other entries, while several major Xbox One exclusives have faced notable delays, such as Crackdown 3, or outright cancellations, including Fable Legends and Scalebound. By contrast, PS4 and Switch have seen a large number of critically successful first- and third-party exclusives, and Activision would sign with Sony Interactive Entertainment for timed exclusivity on certain add-on content in the Call of Duty and Destiny franchises—the former having replaced a previous deal with Microsoft.
An analyst also noted that Microsoft's first-party studios were not as strong as those of Sony, explaining that "Sony has always been about first party and Microsoft wanted to emulate that, but they allowed studios like Rare and Lionhead to fade away." In 2018, Microsoft acquired a large number of third-party studios, including Compulsion Games, InXile Entertainment, Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, and Undead Labs, and hired former Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher to lead a new Microsoft studio known as The Initiative.
In 2016, Microsoft began to make future Xbox One-exclusive first-party releases simultaneously available on Windows 10 PCs, with digital cross-buy support via Microsoft Store under the branding Xbox Play Anywhere. This, thus, makes the games Microsoft platform exclusives rather than Xbox One exclusives. Microsoft has used the branding "console launch exclusive" to refer to titles that are timed or permanent exclusives to Xbox console hardware, but were already available on, or are planned to be available on PC.
Microsoft initially imposed policies referred to as the "parity clause" on indie games, which required that the Xbox One version of a game be released at the same time as versions on other platforms. Phil Spencer stated that this rule was intended to ensure that Xbox One was a "first-class" platform by discouraging staggered releases. However, these policies resulted in some studios, such as Vlambeer choosing to negotiate console exclusivity with Sony instead, who proved to be more receptive to indie development. By July 2015, Microsoft had changed its policies in response to the criticism, with Spencer admitting that this policy was onerous on smaller studios. Spencer also stated that Microsoft was willing to work with studios to help make the Xbox launches of former timed exclusives "special in some way", so that customers are not simply purchasing "last year's game".
SalesMicrosoft only publicized its sales figures during the first year after release. The last official figure was released in November 2014, with the company announcing in October 2015 that it would no longer publish sales figures for the system.
On November 22, 2013, Microsoft confirmed that it had sold one million Xbox One consoles within its first 24 hours of being available. Based on approximately 102,000 shopping receipts tracked by InfoScout, 1,500 of which included a purchase of either a video game or a video game console, the Xbox One was the highest-selling console during the Black Friday sales period in the United States.
On December 11, 2013, Microsoft announced that it had sold approximately 2 million units in its first 18 days on sale. On December 12, 2013, Microsoft announced it was the fastest selling console in the United States, based on NPD Group figures, however the NPD report clarified, "PlayStation 4 sales included an additional week within the November data month compared to Xbox One. When looking at sales on an average per-week basis, Xbox One led PS4. Keep in mind, however, that supply typically becomes constrained in the second week after launch."
On January 6, 2014, Microsoft announced that approximately 3 million consoles had been sold worldwide in 2013. In their Q2 2014 earnings report on January 23, 2014, Microsoft announced that 3.9 million Xbox One units had been shipped worldwide. On November 12, 2014, Microsoft announced it had shipped almost 10 million units to retailers worldwide. The company also revealed that a price cut had tripled U.S. sales of the console over the previous week. On December 11, 2014, Microsoft announced, based on NPD Group figures, that Xbox One was the best-selling console in November 2014.
With Microsoft's October 2015 announcement that it would no longer publish sales figures for the system, the 10 million figure from November 2014 is still the latest official cumulative sales number. Some journalists think that its lower sales figures than rival PlayStation 4 is the reason behind the decision, to make their system not look "bad" compared to Sony's.
In January 2016, the CFO of Electronic Arts reported during a financial call that the Xbox One has sold "around 18 to 19 million" units. This is half of the 36 million units of the PlayStation 4 that Sony claimed at the time, but higher than that of the Xbox One's other main competitor, Nintendo's Wii U, which sold 12.5 million units.
Research firm IHS Markit estimated 39.1 million units were sold by the end of March 2018. Video game industry analyst Daniel Ahmad estimated that approximately 41 million units had been as of January 2019.
At Turtle Beach Corporation Q3 2019 earnings call, Xbox One sales were estimated to have reached 50 million.
The Xbox One has sold poorly in Japan, continuing the trend of Microsoft's previous consoles which have struggled against the local Sony and Nintendo. The Xbox One sold a total figure of 23,562 consoles within its launch week. By comparison, the Xbox 360 sold 62,000 consoles in Japan during its opening week in 2005. In the week ending June 14, 2015 the Xbox One sold just 100 consoles in Japan; in the same week the Wii U sold 16,413 consoles.
According to the International Data Corporation, of the 46.9 million Xbox Ones sold worldwide through the second quarter of 2019, just 0.3% of them have been in Japan.
As of December 2019, and the unveil of Xbox Series X, Xbox One sales in Japan were estimated to be just a little more over 110,000 units according to Famitsu.
Launch configurationOn launch, Xbox One was available in a single retail configuration, which included the console with 500 GB hard drive, one controller, and Kinect sensor. In the United States, it retailed for US$499. On June 9, 2014, Microsoft released a new Xbox One retail configuration that excludes the Kinect sensor, costing US$399. A standalone Kinect sensor for Xbox One for use with these models was released in October 2014, retailing at US$150. On June 16, 2015, Microsoft lowered the price of the stock model to US$349, and released a new US$399 model containing a 1 terabyte hard drive and in some markets, . In May 2016, Microsoft lowered the price of selected 500 GB bundles to US$299, and 1 TB bundles to US$319 as a limited time offer of unspecified length. On June 14, 2016, the price of 500 GB models was lowered once more to US$279 through October 2016, in anticipation of the launch of Xbox One S.
On August 31, 2015, Microsoft announced Xbox One Elite—a new SKU with a 1 TB solid-state hybrid drive and an Elite controller. It was released in November 2015 and retails for US$499.99. In the US, the Elite bundle was a timed exclusive to GameStop and Microsoft Store.
The launch hardware configuration's production was discontinued by mid-2016. A spokesperson for Microsoft told Rolling Stone, "we stopped manufacturing the original Xbox One when we introduced Xbox One S."
Special editionsThose who pre-ordered Xbox One for its release received a special "Day One Edition", which featured a "DAY ONE 2013" inscriptions on the controller, and a unique achievement. A white "Launch Team" edition was given exclusively to Microsoft staff members, featuring the inscription "I made this, LAUNCH TEAM 2013" on the console and controller, and was bundled with Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, ', and Zoo Tycoon. A similar limited edition was gifted to Respawn Entertainment employees following the release of Titanfall, with a black, white, and orange color scheme and a similarly styled controller inspired by the game.
Xbox One consoles bundled with digital copies of specific games have also been released, including Titanfall and Forza Motorsport 5.
- In October 2014, a non-Kinect bundle featuring a white Xbox One and a coupon for a digital copy of Sunset Overdrive was released, marking the first public availability of white Xbox One models. A similar white hardware bundle was released for Quantum Break.
- In November 2014, a limited edition 1 TB bundle was released for
Xbox One SThe Xbox One S is available in 500 GB, 1 TB, and a "special edition" 2 TB model, which originally retailed at US$299, $349, and $399 respectively. The 2 TB model was released on August 2, 2016, and 1 TB and 500 GB models were released on August 23, 2016. A Gears of War 4 special edition was also released. On June 11, 2017, Microsoft lowered the prices of the 500 GB Battlefield 1 and 1 TB Forza Horizon 3 Xbox One S console bundles by US$50. At Gamescom 2017, Microsoft unveiled a 1 TB Minecraft limited edition, with a grass block-themed hardware and a Creeper-themed controller. During an Inside Xbox livestream in September 2018, Microsoft unveiled a 1 TB Fortnite Battle Royale bundle, with online codes to acquire unique in-game Eon-themed items and currency. On October 9, 2018, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a 1 TB Minecraft Creators bundle, with a download code for Minecraft, in-game currency, DLC packs, and a free trial for Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. On June 7, 2019, Microsoft released a second Fortnite bundle with purple hardware, as well as in-game currency and items. On March 17, 2020, a similar Roblox bundle was released, bundled with in-game items and currency, and a one-month trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Xbox One S All-Digital EditionOn April 16, 2019, Microsoft unveiled an "all-digital" configuration of the Xbox One S named Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which excludes the Blu-ray Disc drive. It is a 1 TB model sold at a price of US$249, and is pre-loaded with Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft, and Sea of Thieves. The console was released on May 7, 2019. The unit was discontinued in July 2020.
Xbox One XMicrosoft first teased Xbox One X, a high-end hardware revision of Xbox One, at E3 2016 under the codename "Project Scorpio", and released it on November 7, 2017 with a 1 TB model priced at US$499, and a limited, pre-order exclusive "Project Scorpio Edition", with a dark-gradient finish, vertical stand-brace and green "Project Scorpio" inscriptions on the console and bundled controller.
Xbox One X features upgraded hardware, designed primarily to render games at 4K resolution and to provide performance improvements for existing games; they can be displayed at full resolution on 4K displays, or supersampled for lower-resolution displays. It uses a system-on-chip known as Scorpio Engine, which incorporates a 2.3 GHz octa-core CPU, and a Radeon GPU with 40 Compute Units clocked at 1172 MHz, generating 6 teraflops of graphical computing performance. It also includes 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM with 9 GB allocated to games. Scorpio Engine's CPU utilizes a custom platform designed to maintain compatibility with the Jaguar CPU of the original Xbox One, but with a 31% increase in performance; the custom platform is unrelated to AMD's current Ryzen architecture. The console uses a vapor-chamber method of cooling for the SoC, and motherboards tailored to the exact voltage needs of each individual Scorpio SoC to optimize their output and energy usage. The console also supports AMD's FreeSync technology, 1440p resolution, and/or 120 Hz refresh rate on compatible displays.
Xbox One X is compatible with all existing Xbox One software and accessories, including the Xbox and Xbox 360 games that have been made backward-compatible. To assist in optimizing the new hardware to run existing games at 4K resolution, Microsoft developers used internal debugging software to collect GPU traces from major titles that did not run at full 1080p resolution on the original Xbox One. , which uses a scaling system that dynamically lowers the game's resolution when needed to maintain a consistent frame rate, was able to run at its native resolution with no scaling on Xbox One X hardware. Phil Spencer touted that Xbox One X's hardware could also support virtual reality, due to its power, price point, and convenience. At the 2017 Game Developers Conference, Microsoft announced plans to support Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets on Xbox One in 2018, but the company later stated that it was initially focusing on PC platforms first, and that it wanted to focus on wireless VR solutions for consoles.
Games marketed by Microsoft as Xbox One X Enhanced have specific optimizations for graphical fidelity on the console's hardware. Separate iconography denotes games that natively run at 4K resolution, or support HDR. Existing games can be updated to provide these enhancements. Though Xbox Games marketing head Aaron Greenberg stated that Xbox One X will have no exclusive titles, general manager of game publishing Shannon Loftis remarked in a follow-up interview that she was not sure on this point, and exclusivity would be "up to the game development community what do they want to do".
Xbox One X has been characterized as a competitor to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, a hardware update of the PlayStation 4 released in late 2016 that similarly focuses on 4K gaming and improved virtual reality performance, although Phil Spencer relegated the PlayStation 4 Pro as competition to Xbox One S instead. In October 2016 Penello stated that the performance advantage of Xbox One X over the PS4 Pro would be "obvious", noting that the PS4 Pro's GPU only had 4.2 teraflops of graphical computing performance in comparison to Microsoft's stated 6 teraflops. Some journalists thought that Microsoft's messaging and positioning of Scorpio alongside the release of Xbox One S were at odds with themselves and "confusing".
Production of the Xbox One X was discontinued in July 2020 as Microsoft prepared for the transition to the upcoming Xbox Series X console.