Microsoft is positioning the system as a broad-based consumer entertainment platform, which plays not just games, but can also record television programs via its digital video recorder feature, and can play music and display photos.
With its pre-Christmas launch, Microsoft is hoping to gain market share from Sony and its competing Playstation console. Sony's new Playstation 3 is expected to debut next year. Currently, Sony holds the top position in the games console market, Microsoft is second, and Nintendo holds third place with its GameCube.
The Xbox hype from Microsoft included 12:01 a.m. store openings Tuesday morning at numerous Best Buy stores nationwide to sell the first systems to anxious gamers who'd lined up overnight.
"The debut of Xbox 360 marks one of the biggest consumer launches in Microsoft’s history,” Robbie Bach, Microsoft's entertainment and devices division chief said in a press release.
Eighteen games were available at the launch to prime Xbox sales, including "Perfect Dark Zero," "Project Gotham Racing 3," and "Kameo: Elements of Power," from Microsoft Game Studios.
While today's launch marked the debut of the Xbox in the United States, the console won't go on sale in Europe until Dec. 2. In Japan, gamers must wait for the Dec. 10 launch.