Game Over for Xbox 360

Microsoft announces that the company is ending production of its last-gen game console, more than a decade after it first launched.

Xbox One

Microsoft has ended production of the Xbox 360, Phil Spencer, head of the company's Xbox division, announced yesterday.

"Xbox 360 means a lot to everyone in Microsoft. And while we've had an amazing run, the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us," wrote Spencer in a blog post. "[That] is why we have made the decision to stop manufacturing new Xbox 360 consoles."

The company plans to continue sales of its existing inventory. After that, gamers seeking to partake in some last-generation Xbox entertainment will need to visit eBay or shops that stock used video game systems.

Another option is the Xbox One (pictured), the Xbox 360's successor.

During last year's Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft announced that the Xbox One would support native backward compatibility for select Xbox 360 games in the November 2015 update. While not all games have yet to make the cut, the list of supported titles continues to grow.

It may be the end of the line for Xbox 360 hardware, but Microsoft's Xbox Live online services will continue to support the console, Spencer said. "Xbox Live servers that support Xbox 360 services will also remain online and active," he pledged. Hardware support services will also remain intact.

Xbox 360 is one of Microsoft's most successful consumer electronics products. According to industry watchers at VGChartz, a video game hardware and software research firm, more than 85 million Xbox 360s were sold since its launch on Nov. 22 2005. In the subsequent years, gamers have racked up more than 78 billion hours of play time, said Spencer. Users also spent more than 25 billion hours engaged with the console's assortment of supported apps.

The Xbox 360 also helped usher in another commercial success for Microsoft, the original Kinect.

Four months after releasing the 3D-sensing peripheral, Microsoft announced that it had sold 10 million examples as of March 2010, setting a world record for consumer electronics devices at the time. Not only did gamers snap up the device, but so did technology enthusiasts looking to extend computing into the physical world using relatively inexpensive hardware ($149).

Exploiting the device's camera and sensors, developers and hardware hackers soon flooded YouTube with videos of rudimentary 3D scanners, robots that could sense their surroundings and other demonstrations of the Kinects capabilities. At first, Microsoft wasn't thrilled about people hacking the Kinect, but the company soon reversed its position.

Today, the Xbox brand is under assault from a resurgent Sony.

Earlier this month, a comment from Blake Jorgensen, CFO of game publisher Electronic Arts (EA), revealed that Sony's PlayStation 4 has huge sales lead over the Xbox One. In an earnings call, he noted that the combined sales of both systems was roughly 55 million units. Sony claimed it had sold nearly 36 million PlayStation 4s in January, leaving Microsoft with about 19 million in Xbox One sales.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...