Microsoft is to cease production of the Xbox 360, 11 years after the console first went on sale. The company’s head of Xbox division Phil Spencer said that while the console meant a lot to its staff, “the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us”.
Microsoft will continue to sell its remaining stock and supported games while supplies last. Xbox 360 owners will still be able to use Xbox Live services including online multiplayer gaming and access to apps.
The console first went on sale in November 2005 and was redesigned twice with 2010’s Xbox 360 Slim and the Xbox 360 Elite in 2013. Microsoft last shared official sales figures in 2013 when it announced that the console had been purchased 78.2 million times. Its successor the Xbox One went on sale the same year and has sold around 19 million units till date.
The news comes ahead of Microsoft’s quarterly results announcement. Analysts predict the company will have been hit by weak demand for computers but are encouraged by the strength of its other hardware.
The company has been locked in a losing battle with Sony’s PlayStation 4 for years, which has sold around 35.9 million units. Sony is reported to be working on a more powerful version of the PS4 code named NEO which could be intended to bolster its virtual reality games content with the release of its PlayStation VR platform in October.
Xbox owners could soon be able to wage online war against PlayStation rivals once Microsoft opens up its system to support cross-platform play.
Currently, gamers can only play against others on the same gaming system but Rocket League will be among the first games to go cross-platform through Xbox Live, Microsoft has confirmed.
The move is a first in the competitive gaming world – a step towards greater collaboration, given that many first-time console buyers choose the platform their friends use in order to play against them.
Both firms will be making announcements at this year’s E3 video games in June.