The original Xbox was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe. It was Microsoft’s first foray into the gaming console market. As part of the sixth generation of video game consoles, the Xbox competed with Sony’s PlayStation 2, Sega’s Dreamcast (which stopped American sales before the Xbox went on sale), and Nintendo’s GameCube. The Xbox was the first console offered by an American company after the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996. The name Xbox was derived from a contraction of DirectX Box, a reference to Microsoft’s graphics API, DirectX.
The integrated Xbox Live service launched in November 2002 allowed players to play games online with or without a broadband connection. It first competed with Dreamcast’s online service but later primarily competed with PlayStation 2’s online service. Although these two are free while Xbox Live required a subscription, as well as broadband-only connection which was not completely adopted yet, Xbox Live was a success due to better servers, features such as a buddy list, and milestone titles like Halo 2 released in November 2004, which is the best-selling Xbox video game and was by far the most popular online game for the system.