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Opening the XBox [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Dean Takahashi


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Book Description

13 July 2002
Inside Microsoft's Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution
The video game industry is expected to double in sales over the next five years. It has already eclipsed motion pictures to become one of the largest and fastest growing markets in history and a lamplight illuminating where the future of entertainment is headed. In an effort to grab a chunk of that market, Microsoft—an absolute newcomer to the gaming industry—has put billions of dollars on the line in a gamble to build the fastest, most mature, most advanced video game console ever: the Xbox. Is this new Microsoft venture just another experiment that, like WebTV, was launched to much fanfare but will be quickly forgotten? Or will it become the next Windows, finding its way into the homes and lives of millions of people around the world?

In Opening the Xbox, award-winning journalist and gaming-industry expert Dean Takahashi guides you deep into the amazing story of this much-anticipated game console. Through exclusive interviews with top executives at Microsoft, exhaustive research, and a penetrating investigation, he unveils the tumultuous story behind the development of the project and how it could change the entertainment industry forever. Inside, you'll discover that what started as Project Midway, spearheaded by Jonathan "Seamus" Blackley and three of his renegade cohorts, turned into Xbox—a multibillion-dollar enterprise that became Microsoft's largest internal startup ever and a personal pet project of Bill Gates. The colorful infighting, the cutthroat tactics used to lure partners, and the race to vanquish bitter rivals Sony and Nintendo are all laid bare in this unvarnished, high-tech drama. It's a story like no other, full of heroes and villains, plot twists and intrigue—all before the backdrop of Microsoft's grand ambition to move from the office into the living room.

If you're like the millions of gamers, investors, and business spectators who anxiously anticipated the Xbox, then you don't want to miss the explosive, exclusive, behind-the-scenes story in Opening the Xbox.
"I had not thought it possible to write an entire book on a single game console. Takahashi has done it and done it well. Opening the Xbox is consistently interesting and very personable. It's also a book that should ruffle a few egos, including my own."
Steven L. Kent, author, The Ultimate History of Video Games

"Opening the Xbox
provides fascinating insights about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering at Microsoft. Takahashi's fly-on-the-wall style of writing is complemented by insightful analysis of the gaming industry and interesting vignettes about the personal lives of the Xbox creators. This book perfectly intertwines a compelling business story with human drama."
Geoff Keighley, editor in chief, GameSlice

"Thoroughly researched, this book exposes the guts of the video game industry through the prism of Microsoft. Takahashi gives us an engrossing glimpse of an industry that's at once juvenile and ruthlessly systematic in its manufacturing of digital fun."
Alex Pham, staff writer, Los Angeles Times

"Takahashi has meticulously researched this book. It's required reading for anyone interested in the next-generation console race."
Tom Russo, director of program development, G4 Media

"Reads like The Soul of a New Machine for the new millennium. Dean provides insights into the people and the motivation behind Microsoft's high-stakes bid to break into the home-entertainment market. And, he doesn't miss a detail."
Dawn C. Chmielewski, staff writer, San Jose Mercury News

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any XBOX fan or business professional! 27 April 2002
By AMM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book! Author Dean Takahashi gives a detailed insight as to the development and marketing of the XBOX from its early conception right up to its high profile launch!
Being an XBOX fan, this was just the book to read to help dispel some of the myths that were floating around when the XBOX was being developed. You also get a good idea of how the Microsoft corporation thinks and operates not just in the video game market, but throughout all of their business ventures. Interesting theories as to why Microsoft entered the console market in the first place are discussed (one theory is that the XBOX is Microsoft's act of "revenge" against Sony when it looked elsewhere for it's PS2 development systems!).
I highly recommend "Opening the XBOX" to anyone who enjoys video games in general or for someone who is looking for a book that's different than all the other business books currently in stores. Well worth the price and a very insightful look into the strategy and culture that is the Microsoft Corporation.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great glimpse of the video game industry. 14 Jan 2003
By Marcus A. Sasiadek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't like Microsoft. In fact, I bought a PS 2 just to spite them. But, I couldn't put this book down in the bookstore.
The reader gets rare glimpes of the decision making processes for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. The book provides good information on the specifications and history for all 3 systems. The book also gives good insight into the developer's point of view as well. The personalities of the people involved are very interesting, especially the ones from Microsoft.
It's one of the best books I've read in a while. I found it very entertaining and informative.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unprecedented Access 13 Aug 2002
By Steven L. Kent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dean Takahashi is quite possibly the finest reporter ever to dive into the video game arena. He has a shrewd understanding of the financial arena, does not take surface answers seriously, and digs.
He is also a fine writer.
And all of this is apparent in "Opening the Xbox," the deepest and best coverage ever dedicated to a single game console.
I have always belonged to the "Phoenix," "Ultimate History of Video Games," "Supercade," "Arcade Fever" school of game coverage--these volumes seem dedicated to the idea that the book format is so vast that you need to cover the entire industry in it.
David Sheff bucked that trend with "Game Over," dedicating an entire book to the history of Nintendo with exemplary results. Then Takahashi comes along and does an entire book on one console--ONE CONSOLE! The result is real depth.
"Opening the Xbox" does a great job of capturing the intrigue and excitement of Microsoft's boardrooms. Takahashi takes more than a fly-on-the-wall approach here, he is a genuine fixture--he is pervasive, making everybody explain what they did and why they did it.
"Opening the Xbox" offers a most thorough picture of the inside decision making process for one small segment of gaming; and doing so, it offers a big-picture view for any company in an analogous situation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insights 7 July 2002
By Richard Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book on at least two different levels. First of all, it is an easy and fascinating read about a rapid development effort accomplished with virtually unlimited resources. Secondly, the author provides a view of the dynamics of Microsoft's motivation and behavior in moving against a well entrenched competitor in an interesting new market, namely games. The tactics perfected in unhorsing Apple, WordPerfect, Novell, and Netscape from their dominant market positions are well demonstrated in the Xbox effort detailed in this book. The only missing piece for me was a careful examination of the hardware, software and developer support trade-offs between the Sony PlayStation2 and the Microsoft Xbox in contrast to earlier Microsoft predations. However, such a detailed examination would have bored most readers so I can't complain. Anyway, those insights are available elsewhere.
On the whole, I was well rewarded with the book because of its "view-from-the-inside" as opposed to the externally obvious facts. I think this is a "must" read for anyone expecting to participate in the games market either as a consumer or provider, and for that matter, anyone who expects to provide services or products to Microsoft, sell or use their products or compete against them. Clearly, Microsoft is a tenacious competitor with virtually unlimited resources. Beware Nokia!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars three-and-a-half stars 18 Jan 2004
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What the book is:
An interesting look at how projects evolve inside a company like Microsoft and how that evolution effects subsequent strategy. It makes an interesting point of comparison for similar projects in other companies.
A good look at how Microsoft is responding to the question of games and the gaming industry.
What the book is not:
Particularly well-written, at least in my opinion. The writing felt clunky, too much like an extended magazine article and not enough like a book.
Well documented. I expected more than interviews and anecdotal evidence.
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