Xbox Made A Four Hour Anniversary Documentary About Itself

Xbox Made A Four Hour Anniversary Documentary About Itself

Power On: The Story of Xbox is a four-hour, multi-part documentary about the history of Microsoft’s console, produced by Xbox itself.

Some episodes break down the development of the first three Xbox consoles and interview the people involved in their creation. Other episodes get into specific, unavoidable moments in Xbox history, like the Red Ring of Death. Even Don Mattrick, the executive whose career was destroyed by the Xbox One’s abortive launch, appears on camera. This might actually be his first interview in years.

It’s good to see that Xbox made a documentary that doesn’t try to hide its mistakes. It is, however, still a product of the marketing department. This means it seeks to minimise those darker moments wherever it can. Fun and informative in certain sections, enlightening in others, but a long-form puff piece nevertheless. I’ve embedded the entire playlist below if you’d like to check it out.

Sony did something similar a few years ago when it released a two-hour documentary on the development of God of War. Called Raising Kratos, the documentary followed the game’s production over several years, including its live unveiling at E3.

Making Ofs happen for posterity in film-making all the time. They happen far less often in games, and that’s to the industry’s detriment. So, it’s nice to see members of The Big Three carving off some budget for productions like these. However, we mustn’t forget that they are sprung directly from the marketing department. Their goal is to get you feeling warm and fuzzy about the brand so that you’ll buy-in. Let’s just bear that in mind.

Further reading

Anyway, if you do decide to watch this and you’re feeling hungry for more video game docs, might we recommend a few channels?

NoClip is one of the bigger video game documentary channels on Youtube. Created by former Gamespot journo Danny O’Dwyer, it has produced short- and long-form documentaries since 2016. A recent series on the work of Dishonored developer Arkane ranks among the channel’s finest work. Indeed, it’s O’Dwyer’s work that these in-house docs from Xbox and PlayStation seek to emulate. Unlike a lot of other “documentary” channels on YouTube that are little more than facts from Wikipedia over a slideshow, O’Dwyer and his team embed themselves with developers in their studios and speak to them on their terms.

Cloth Map is another great channel that cleverly marries the travel documentary with video games. Hosted by journalist Drew Scanlon, who you may know as the Blinking Guy Gif, Cloth Map follows Drew on visits to various countries and dives into their connections to the culture of video games. Memorable docs include Drew’s visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, and Havana’s ad-hoc, city-wide LAN network used for World of Warcraft. Though the channel was forced to slow its roll during the pandemic, I’m looking forward to seeing Drew hit the road again in the future.

Let us know if you decide the check out the Xbox documentary! We’d love to know what you thought.


  • Of course Microsoft isn’t going to make a documentary saying ‘we suck’ but I applaud them for being a little more transparent than Sony in so many ways…

    I mean, yes it downplays things, but the fact that Chapter 5 is literally CALLED The Red Ring of Death shows that they are willing to acknowledge their mistake. I mean do you EVER hear Sony make mention of the ApocalyPS3? Yes, it only lasted for a little over 3 weeks, but I am pretty sure the RROD didn’t involve the largest (at the time) security breaches in history with tens of millions of accounts details leaked. To me, that was a bigger mistake of that gen cause it affected EVERY PS3 owner.

    On a slightly different tangent, I had the yellow light of death on 3 different PS3s back in the day and RROD only once..

    • RROD could fixed by replacing the bad solder for people who had the skill to do so themselves. I believe my original RROD 360 is back in working order due to it, but we decided to mod it after the fact because reliability is always an issue when you jury rig repairs. I never encountered the yellow light of death on PS3, but I’d imagine capacitors to be more of a pain in the arse to replace than bad solder.

    • Microsoft are obviously all about money like every other company but they are by far the most “humble” when compared to other gaints. They admit and own their mistakes.

      Everyone forgets that when the og xbox released in Australia it didn’t do well so they cut the price very quickly. Everyone that paid full price for the console had 2 free games, of their choice, sent to them to make up for it. PPretty sure no company has EVER done something like that before. Can confirm this is legit as well as they sent me 2 games

  • I was wondering what the recent media drive was all about but I never would’ve guessed it was a 4 hour lesson in corporate masturbation.

    • It’s honestly worth watching at least the first two episodes, as they talk in detail about the development of the original XBox, and how the team had to fight others within Microsoft (such as the Windows CE team, which was also developing a console) to get the XBox to happen.

      The rest of it does tend to skip over a lot of stuff (the XBox One S doesn’t even get mentioned!) and the final episode degenerates into self-congratulatory bullshit after the halfway point, but I enjoyed the whole thing well enough. Definitely the first two episodes are the highlight, though.

      • Why wouldn’t they be self congratulatory after all of the shit they had to deal with in the first five episodes? The documentary was released as a celebration of Xbox success in spite of the setbacks. It wasn’t released as self-immolation piece – they already did that with the RROD on the 360, so I don’t know why you’d go in expecting that in the first place.

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