On Saturday, the Xbox One will be a full year old. Microsoft's flagship console has certainly had a year of ups and downs. Thankfully for the Xbox team, most of the downs seemed to come at the start of the year and things have gotten better since. The Xbox One was slow to start in its race with the PS4, with Sony's console tripling the sales made by Microsoft in the first quarter of 2014. The race nearly looked over later on, when news broke that the PS4 was the top-selling console for 8 months in a row.
However, Microsoft has made a bit of a return in terms of sales. Xbox promised to focus on new IPs for the console, and took the motion-control device Kinect away from the Xbox One package as a necessity to reduce its price and the sales started coming back. Reports started coming in that the Xbox One outsold the PS4 in September, and it was revealed that the console is very close to reaching 10 million units shipped.
Now, to celebrate the console's anniversary, Microsoft has announced that owners of the console can look forward to a number of free gifts. In a post on the Xbox website, the tech giant thanked its "unbelievable fans" for an "incredible year" to mark the console's first birthday. "We want to thank you for being part of an amazing 12 months by celebrating with you all weekend long."
Microsoft revealed that every Xbox One owner will receive a Year One gamer picture, some new Xbox One backgrounds including an exclusive Day One background for those who unlock the Day One achievement, and a background for use on Twitter or on a home desktop. A free, limited-time rental of Halo 4: Forward Unto Battle, a free rental of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods and a sampler pack of Dragon Ball Z episodes are available for US and Canadian customers.
There are also prizes up for grabs at random. Amongst the potential special gifts, Xbox One owners could get their hands on a limited edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle or a special edition Sunset Overdrive bundle if they are based in the US. Owners could also receive a 12-month Xbox Live Gold membership digital code, one month's membership for EA Access, and the Killer Instinct Season 1 Combo Breaker Pack, including DLC character Fulgore.
Microsoft also has a pair of gift packs available. The Forza gift pack includes a Forza RallyCross hat, a 1/24 scale replica Lamborghini Huracan, and a Xbox One controller signed by Global RallyCross champion Tanner Foust. Meanwhile, the Grand Theft Auto V gift pack comes with a Los Santos Sheriff Trucker cap, Michael, Frankin and Trevor Posters, and a Grand Theft Auto V sticker pack. Both gift packs are available in the US only.
The prizes will be available to any Xbox One owners who purchased their console prior to October 1, 2014, in the 13 initial Xbox One launch markets. To be eligible, Xbox One owners must also have opted in to receive Xbox marketing emails prior to November 11, 2014, must be 17 years or older, and have spent 10+ hours on their Xbox One. Even with those restrictions, it looks like there are plenty of good gifts up for grabs.
Has Microsoft managed to make the Xbox brand appealing in your eyes over the last year?