In the late 1990s, Microsoft made the decision to jump into the fiercely competitive--and potentially highly lucrative--video game console market. Their first system, the Xbox, debuted on November 15, 2001 amid a market dominated by Sony Computer Entertainment and the immensely successful Sony PlayStation 2. Microsoft's other main rival for market share, Nintendo, launched their next-generation system, the much-anticipated GameCube, in November as well. Microsoft envisioned their system as more than a home video game console; they developed the Xbox as a revolutionary home-entertainment vehicle. To this end, designers included an Ethernet port that allowed players access to Xbox LIVE (launched in November 2002), an online, real-time gaming community available for a monthly subscription fee. In addition, the console was capable of playing standard DVDs through a multimedia expansion pack. The system sold relatively well, topping 25 million consoles by the end of its production run in 2006, but failed to supplant Sony's PlayStation line as the dominate home console (both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 sold more than 100 million units apiece). Several of the launch titles for the Xbox enjoyed overwhelming success-most notably Halo: Combat Evolved, which became the signature game for the system. Microsoft's successor to the Xbox, the Xbox 360, was released in November 2005.
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