It is the end of an era. Sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Microsoft will shut down the servers and the original Master Chief will throw his last frag online. It was first announced back in February that Microsoft would be pulling its support of the original Xbox Live to make way for improvements to the new XBL service, and tonight is the last chance to play your favorite original Xbox Live games like Halo 2 and… well probably just Halo 2.
It is a sad night for gamers who spent a small – but significant – chunk of the decade on the Xbox. There were other games that had a much bigger online communities, especially on the PC, but for consoles, the Xbox was the only real choice for online gaming. The Playstation 2 sold their modem separately, but with the exception of the SOCOM series, online game never really caught hold on for Sony.
Since the debut of the Xbox Live service in November 2002, the online community has continued to expand and grow. In February of this year, Microsoft announced that the Xbox Live service had grown to 23 million. Although slightly primitive by today’s standards (which allow us to stream Netflix, download full games and even play online game shows) the original Xbox Live service paved the way.
Gamers who have been still playing on the original XBL will get a small consolation in the way of 400 MS points and three months of free XBL service for the Xbox 360. Original Xbox games can be purchased as Arcade games for the 360, but they will no longer feature online multiplayer game modes. Halo 2 still attracts hundreds – sometimes thousands – of gamers every day.
Tomorrow might be the funeral for the service, but tonight is the wake! Dig out your old consoles and join Halo developers, Bungie, on Halo 2 from 6-11pm PST. Gamers can win prizes and talk to the developers while giving Master Chief the send off he deserves.