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Microsoft celebrates 20 years of Xbox with gear drops, wallpapers, more through November

This year, Xbox turns 20. That’s right, our favorite gaming console is nearly of legal age, and Microsoft is taking a walk back down memory lane for a celebration. You’ll find exclusive gear drops, wallpapers, profiles, and even the ability to go back to where it all started: Halo. So, let’s take that stroll back in time and see how far Microsoft has come in the past two decades.

Halo, the game that started it all, is still available to play on Microsoft’s latest consoles

If we rewind time and look back at the very first Xbox and the very first game to be released, we’d be staring at a green glowing X with Halo loading in the background. Sure, the X hasn’t gone anywhere, and we have new Halo games on the horizon, but there’s something nostalgic about meeting Master Chief for the first time all over again.

Unlike its rival, Microsoft has focused on retaining its roots when launching new generations of consoles. The Xbox 360 didn’t have that robust of a backward compatibility layer, but starting with the Xbox One and really ramping up with the additional power of the One X, Microsoft built a fantastic backward compatibility engine into the One lineup of Xbox consoles. Moving onto the Series line, which released last year, Microsoft turned things up to 11 when it comes to backward compatibility.

There’s now a library of thousands of original Xbox, 360, and One games available to play on the latest Series S/X. Microsoft also went the extra mile to allow you to convert disk-based games from yesteryear into digital licenses, so you don’t have to keep that old DVD or Blu-ray around. You’ll also find that, even though a game was made in the mid-2000s, it can now take full advantage of the high-end powerful GPU, CPU, and SSD that the Series S and X have to offer. “No boost mode, no downclocking” happens when playing these games, according to Microsoft. This means that older titles will load faster, have better graphics, and run smoother than ever before. And, all of this power lets you travel back in time throughout Xbox’s 20 years in gaming and explore some of your favorite titles from childhood.

Enjoy exclusive gear drops while supplies last

Another way Microsoft is celebrating 20 years of Xbox is by launching an exclusive “20th Anniversary Collection” of gear and apparel. You’ll find pillows with Master Chief inside of the number 20, matching T-shirts, bugs, and tumblers, as well as totes and trucker hats. While this is everything in the store right now, Microsoft has said that more content is coming over the next few months leading into November, so we can hopefully expect new gear to launch as well.

Customize your console with “The Original” profile theme and more

Microsoft didn’t want to leave current-gen consoles out of the loop, either. Sure, they can play older games, but what people really want (sometimes) is to make new look old. And that’s just what Microsoft did by launching a series of Xbox and Halo anniversary-themed wallpapers, as well as the ability to set “The Original” profile theme in the “Customize Profile” menu. If you have a Series X|S, this will be dynamic and bring back all kinds of nostalgic feels.

Xbox continues to be by gamers, for gamers

Right now, it’s entirely too hard to pick up a next-generation console. We know how frustrating that can be, and so does Microsoft. Because of this, the company is extending an invitation to those with an Xbox One and who are enrolled in the Xbox Insiders program. You’ll be able to take part in the Console Purchase Pilot program, which allows you to register to purchase a Series X or S. Not everyone who registers will receive the option to buy, but at least with a program like this, scalpers and bots won’t be able to participate.

9to5Toys’ take

It’s no secret that Xbox is my favorite console gaming platform, though Windows with a PC is my preferred method, for sure. I love taking a look back at where the Xbox came from and thinking about where it’ll be in another 20 years. Nobody thought console gaming would last like it did or become such a huge part of our lives that we would write about, read about, and talk about it every day.

What are some of your favorite Xbox memories? We’d love to hear them, so sound off in the comments below.

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