A Brief History of RPGs on Xbox - How Microsoft's Console Brand Modernised RPGs

Role-playing games are a true staple of the gaming landscape – from epic fantasy tales to violent shooters, so many games out there embody aspects of this industry stalwart.

While the genre’s beginnings were on PCs with text-based adventures, it was the shift to consoles that made them as popular as they are today, and in particular the original Xbox is what brought them mainstream acclaim in the West by putting them in the hands of millions of gamers.

Some are more iconic and influential than others, however. From the original Xbox to the modern-day – these are the RPGS that have made the genre what it is today and whose influences will still be felt for years to come.

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Masaharu5d ago (Edited 5d ago )

Yeah no. That was the SNES and PS1.

trumpwonstopcrying5d ago

Absolutely ridiculous to give any credit to the xbox for modernizing RPG games. It's the most scarce genre on every xbox console minus some western RPG titles which IMO aren't really RPG's, they're more action games with RPG elements.

The companies that deserve the real credit would be Atlus, Nihon Falcom, Namco Bandai, NIS and Squarenix. And the majority of their games pop up on Sony and Nintendo consoles

DiRtY5d ago

I think JRPG and WRPGs are different genres. They are so not the same.
Xbox did very well with WRPGs, Oblivion, Fable I - III, Mass Effect, The Witcher 2 were all somehow exclusive (timed, console or full) to the Xbox brand.

JRPGs... well couldn't care less. Not my cup of tea at all.

UltraNova5d ago

Ok the author must know something I dont. This aint adding up.

DarXyde5d ago

I think it depends on what constitutes "modernized".

SNES and PSOne did wonders for Japanese RPGs (Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy, Earthbound, Pokemon, etc.) but I do believe Microsoft had a direct impact on Western RPGs and perhaps even guided the direction of some JRPGs.

See, Xbox has a certain western appeal; PlayStation has both Western and eastern appeal. Square released Final Fantasy on Xbox as of last generation when it was announced as a PlayStation exclusive. Seeing as it started out as a PS3 game, it makes sense for XIII to be turn-based. Interestingly enough, Final Fantasy has taken a more western approach as of XV by making it real time action instead of turn-based, and this game was intended from the beginning to be multiplatform. I think that was a pretty straightforward attempt at Square appealing to Western and Eastern audiences. Also consider that the JRPGs that are exclusive to PlayStation (and in some cases, Nintendo as well) maintain their very eastern appeal: Disgaea, Persona, Hyperdimension Neptunia, etc. Basically, I think Square, going forward, is trying to capture two audiences at once starting with Final Fantasy XV--they know PlayStation gamers like both action titles and J/RPGs but I think they question how successful a turn-based Final Fantasy would be on Xbox consoles following XIII.

So I think Xbox has guided the direction of the more potentially commercial JRPGs. Other than that, I would definitely say that they had a very heavy hand in the rise of western RPGs.

_-EDMIX-_5d ago

"I would definitely say that they had a very heavy hand in the rise of western RPGs" they didn't.

MS Game Studios back with the first XB only had 1 big RPG IP and that was Fable.

MS didn't own KOTOR or Jade Empire annnnnnnnd those games came to PC via other publishers.

SO I don't think 1 game by MS as in owned by MS counts as "heavy hand".

Soooooo we just going to ignore Bioware, Bethesda, Obsidian and many more?

trumpwonstopcrying5d ago

You're talking about a console that sold around 25 million for its entire life cycle. The xbox did next to nothing for RPG games. The Xbox did however give a huge push to the shooting game genre with Halo and another huge push to online console gaming with Halo 2. I give them major props for that.

And you're right. Squarenix has definitely been building some of their biggest games like FFXV for the mainstream audience. FFXV looks more like a western RPG than it does a JRPG. But then when dragon quest XI hits it will be a pure JRPG especially the 3DS version with it's retro look.

DarXyde5d ago (Edited 5d ago )


Maybe I wasn't clear.

The original Xbox didn't do much for the genre (KOTOR, Elder Scrolls, and Jade Empire withstanding) but X360 definitely had that content.

And you're right in saying it's neither first party nor fully exclusive, but I think in the console space, Xbox has done a lot for games like The Witcher, Elder Scrolls, and even introduced Mass Effect.

No, they're not first party, but neither are most of PlayStation's JRPGs. On that case, both brands did well to popularize genres in the console space. Otherwise, if I worked within your restrictions, we would be uniquely giving credit to Nintendo and PC.

And to be clear, I'm not at all saying Microsoft pioneered much. But Xbox has had some impact on the genre. If you think Final Fantasy hasn't changed to appeal to a more western audience, I'd say you're crazy.

indysurfn4d ago

Id like to add

First square invented the console ACTION RPG (dragon slayer 1 and 2, starting 1984) then Square invented the console TURN BASED RPG (final fantasy 1-9, starting 1987)

Hence action RPG is old school if you can read a calendar and turn based is new school if you can still read said calendar.

rainslacker4d ago (Edited 4d ago )

Western RPG's were already gaining a lot of momentum before MS ever entered the console market. They were very popular on PC with things like Elder scrolls, Forgotten Realms, Ultima, and various MMO's which had been working towards things like WOW.

MS had a few of those kinds of games on their system, but they didn't sell anywhere near what they did on PC, nor match the sales that Japanese RPG's did. It wasn't until Skyrim came along that you saw a runaway success of a RPG on the Xbox, and that game was popular everywhere.

I guess Fable could be considered a success, but it wasn't exactly some iconic and pivotal RPG that shaped the modern RPG. Everything it did had been done before, it just did more of it in a single game. But fable actually had a bigger marketing budget on the PC, because that was where most of the RPG gamers were at the time of it's release.

MS didn't promote the games enough, nor did their marketing budget really spend much time on Xbox, for Xbox to ever be considered a factor in making the genre mainstream. Modern RPG's are just extensions of what has been around since the mid-80's.

What specific action has MS taken to have an effect on the modern RPG going mainstream? I can't think of any. The only time they ever marketed or seemed to care about RPG's was in the early 360 days, and those were more Japanese RPG's, which didn't really do anything that wasn't done before. Just having some modern RPG's on their system due to the happenstance of having a large enough install base to support the sale of the game, does not mean that MS was a major factor. They had a place in getting them to more people, but that doesn't mean they were somehow responsible for it, nor should be given credit for it just because they happen to sell enough systems. By that logic, we can say how Sony was a major player in making FPS so popular last generation. It defies logic.

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datriax5d ago

"How Microsoft's Console Brand Modernised RPGs"

LOL These opinion pieces. I've never had such awesome laughs as when I come across most of these. Truly hilarious stuff.

rainslacker5d ago (Edited 5d ago )

I can't think of a single "modernized" style of RPG that was exclusive to Xbox at any point in time.

Maybe there was one that went under the radar, but that isn't exactly influential.

I'd say things like Skyrim, Dragon Age, The Witcher(which was bigger on PC), or several efforts by Square Enix to appeal to the western market had more to do with the modern day RPG than any thing that MS or Xbox did. Maybe the original Mass Effect, but they dropped that style by the 2nd game, which wasn't exclusive anymore.

If we're really going to try and look at who's responsible for the modern RPG, why not give credit to the developers that did this, and most of those big games were primarily designed with PC in mind, as they took principals of PC RPG's from long before Xbox came around, and brought them into the modern age.....not even really brought them into the modern age....just made them prettier and bigger.

porkChop5d ago

Uh, what? RPGs were super popular on PS2, far more so than the original Xbox. Xbox didn't modernize anything for RPGs. Like the PS2 was an RPG machine, and sold 150M+ units compared to the original Xbox's 24M.

"in particular the original Xbox is what brought them mainstream acclaim in the West by putting them in the hands of millions of gamers"

Don't make me laugh.

Godmars2905d ago

"in particular the original Xbox"

"the original Xbox"


The original Xbox actively ignored JRPGs. At best made a weeaboo knock off.

I will give them Jade Empire, KOTOR, but like with Mass Effect those were IPs they supported but failed to actually foster as brand identifying IPs.

Krysis5d ago

I'll give you that, they were stupid for not signing bioware and letting ea have them.

_-EDMIX-_5d ago

I wouldn't even give them that.

They don't own those IPs. They paid for development and to publisher, market and distribute an IP, they didn't own, of a team they didn't own annnnnnnnnnnnd here comes EA buying them up.

MS just made bad, slippery deals and they paid dearly for such a dumb set up. Basically EA was thanking MS right to the bank for marketing Mass Effect, funding Mass Effect and thanks for not buying the team or IP, we'll take over from here lol

I'd say not buying Bioware was just as dumb as Nintendo not buying Rare.

Some times its like.......put a ring in on it folks, stop doing dumb deals to be cheap and really invest. MS missed out and its one of those land mark deals that could have legit changed MS Game Studios for the better if they bought them.

Could you imagine? All 3 Mass Effect games only able to be found on 360? They would have sold a boat load more units with that gem in their arsenal, but they wanted to have back door deals.

rainslacker5d ago

Funny how FFVII is almost universally thought of as the RPG that made them mainstream. Without fail. For a couple decades now.

I can't think of a single exclusive RPG for Xbox that was anywhere near mainstream. Their most notable and successful exclusive RPG was Lost Odyssey which sold around 1-1.5 million through the generation, although apparently had a resurgence with X1 BC(which is long after the time it would have been influential). Other games they had like Blue Dragon and Infinite Undiscovery were maybe good, but not that influential, and weren't some precursor to the modern RPG.

When you look at the games that they did have, they did indeed have some good games to mention. But realistically, all those games came well after RPG's went mainstream. Those games also didn't bring anything, or much new to the RPG table. They didn't sell anywhere near mainstream levels.

_-EDMIX-_5d ago


When you laugh so hard, a tear is in your eye. PS2 was so chalk full of RPGs, I was playing RPGs on PS2, DEEP in to the PS3 generation. It was like 2009 and I was playing Person 4.

OmnislashVer365d ago

Uses a pic of FFXV

> wasn't even going to appear on Xbox originally.

*clap clap clap*

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