Microsoft will discontinue the Xbox Live service for original Xbox consoles this April.
“On April 15 we will discontinue the Xbox Live service for original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox v1 games playable on Xbox 360 and Xbox Originals,” wrote Marc Whitten, general manager of the online service.
“I want to start by saying this isn’t a decision we made lightly, but after careful consideration, it is clear this will provide the greatest benefit to the Xbox Live community.”
Whitten acknowledged that some original Xbox games, including Halo 2, still command a significant Xbox Live user base.
Halo 2 has had an amazing run on Live, with a dedicated community more than five years after launch and well into the next generation of consoles. It has fundamentally changed the way we play video games. And while it’s difficult to see that run come to an end, the Halo franchise continues to act as the benchmark for multiplayer gaming in this generation, with Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and soon Halo: Reach on Xbox 360.”
Whitten also noted that new features would continue to be made available to the service’s 23 million strong community.
“And as we look down the road, we’ll continue to evolve the service with features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360. To reach our aspiration, we need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games. We will contact the Xbox Live members directly impacted by this change and if this includes you, I encourage you to check your Live messages and associated e-mail account over the coming weeks for more details and opportunities. We view you as a partner in this process.”
One new feature widely tipped to be introduced is the introduction of larger Xbox Live friend lists. Currently capped at 100, the discontinuation of support for original Xbox titles could facilitate this.
Xbox group product manager Aaron Greenberg said of raising the cap back in 2007: "There’s some interdependencies. Some things like original Xbox games have friends lists hard coded in, so there’s things we gotta work through, but we’ll get it figured out, it’s something we want to do." He reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to raising the cap just last month.