For a tech industry giant, you’d think that Microsoft would be better at names. Take a look at some of their products and you’ll see that they follow a certain pattern: first, there’s gaming subscriptions along the lines of Xbox Live, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and Xbox All Access. Then you have the consoles: the Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and the Xbox Series X.
I’ve got a question: what does any of that mean?
Full disclosure, I’ve been playing video games my entire life; I played the first Resident Evil when I was very young with my older brother on the original PlayStation. Seeing the first zombie turn around to face the screen will always be ingrained in my memory and is the sole reason why I hate scary video games and movies.
But I digress.
Throughout my time, I’ve played and owned many video game systems from many different manufacturers and for the most part, they’ve had fairly straightforward naming conventions. Take Sony, for example.
If you look at Sony’s consoles, they came out in this order: PlayStation (1994), PlayStation 2 (2000), PlayStation 1 (2000), PlayStation 2 Slim (2004), PlayStation 3 (2006), PlayStation 3 Slim (2009), PlayStation 3 Super Slim (2012), PlayStation 4 (2013), PlayStation 4 Slim (2016), PlayStation 4 Pro (2016) and the PlayStation 5 (2020).
Apart from the PlayStation 1 releasing after the PlayStation 2 – Sony wanted a cheaper alternative to the PS2 – everything is pretty straightforward. Nintendo chose a different path of naming its consoles, and its most recent consoles are called the GameCube, Wii, Wii U and Switch, respectively.
Microsoft, in all its wisdom, opted not to follow their main competitors and decided to name its consoles in a different way.
In order, it was the Xbox (2001), Xbox 360 (2005), Xbox 360 S (2010), Xbox 360 E (2013), Xbox One (late 2013), Xbox One Elite (2015), Xbox One S (2016), Xbox One X (2017), Xbox One S All-Digital Edition (2019), Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S (2020).
I know there’s a lot of “X’s” there, but bear with me. Even as a lifelong gamer, that naming convention is extremely confusing. If it’s confusing for me, just think how confusing it is for parents looking to buy the newest console for their kids or people looking to get into Xbox gaming.
I imagine it’d be almost impossible to properly distinguish any of the consoles, particularly the Xbox One X and S with the Xbox Series X and S. As a result, when the newest console, the Xbox Series X and S, became available for pre-orders, many, many, many people got the Xbox ONE X instead, even though that model had been discontinued.
Compared with Sony’s straightforward approach, Microsoft is really making things difficult for consumers. At one point, even Microsoft themselves lost track of which console it was referring.
If the company itself gets confused with the names, then it’s automatically a bad situation.
All that being said, I know it’s extremely early to be talking about the next Xbox console, but the conversation has to start early. Microsoft HAS to change the way it names consoles moving forward.
Considering how Microsoft has hamstrung themselves with this weird naming convention, it’s going to be difficult to find a name for the brand to find a way to introduce evolution with its names. Perhaps going in a new direction would be helpful.
In the end, we’re stuck with these awfully-named consoles. Hopefully in the next seven years or so – the typical lifecycle of a console – Microsoft will have found a way to make the console perform better and more importantly, have a better name.
Because right now, Microsoft sucks at naming their consoles.