Xbox Series X Is the First Video Game Console Born in a Pandemic

The debut of a video game console is a carefully choreographed event. It matches state-of-the-art electronics with complex software and big-budget games. It takes years of development and billions of dollars in collective investments, all building to a single deadline.

At first, Microsoft worried about whether manufacturers, many of which are in Asia where the virus originated, would be able to deliver hardware on time. But China soon contained the spread, and the supply chain issues proved to be less severe than anticipated. The biggest problems for Microsoft were at home.

The games planned for the Xbox Series X couldn’t be developed on the kinds of laptops people have lying around the house. So Microsoft and its game development partners went to work on a Plan B. They shifted to cloud computing tools and bulked up their network infrastructure to enable workers to remotely access more powerful machines located in dark offices. It still wasn’t enough for some Microsoft engineers, who took turns ransacking the office and piling heavy equipment into their cars, one executive recounted. For one star employee, Microsoft explored running a fiber-optic cable underground to his home in the woods.