Tracing Xbox Live’s Family Tree

By Jared Chadwick

Alexa Ray Corriea wrote an interesting piece for Polygon that shines some light on the roots of Xbox Live. Timely, considering we’re in the midst of the service’s ten year anniversary.

Que Star Wars-style story scroll: When Microsoft first settled on the idea of the Xbox Live service, they needed flag-bearer to head the rest of the potential games into battle. The problem was Publishers like EA saw Xbox Live as competition more than opportunity. Then came Halo 2.

The team at Bungie was responsible for the implementation of Xbox Live’s matchmaking process, skill rankings and in-game friends lists, as well as the “walled garden” user account system.

“As a group, we provided both technical and creative guidance and thought leadership that really pushed the limits,” said Bungie president Harold Ryan. “We weren’t just a game developer using the service. We were integrated in the design of the service and how it worked.”

It’s an odd revelation, but even today’s multiplayer lobbies share an obvious lineage with Halo 2. So even if you’re “not a Halo-person” it’s tough to imagine where the world of console multiplayer would be without the series.


Written by Jared Chadwick

Jared Chadwick is an English major who takes writing about videogames more seriously than finding a respectable profession. Find him on Facebook