Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Xbox One" is a pretty good name for a console

at 10:56 AM
Sometimes I'm truly baffled by the insane reactivity of the insular, narrow-minded gaming community, as I was yesterday after Microsoft's Xbox One presentation. I'm not interested in speculating on the prospects of One's future or whether I'll buy one, I just want to talk about the name. What is a product name supposed to convey? The raison d'etre of the product, or more specifically, the reason you should buy it. Microsoft is trying to sell a box (for the third time around) that is supposed to be the sole multi-functional device sitting in your TV cabinet. It is supposed to be the one box that does it all. Which "Xbox One" pretty succinctly conveys. When I heard the name, before I even read on, I immediately knew what their marketing focus was going to be.

As for the "but it's not the first Xbox!", who cares? Is there seriously a concern that your grandma is going to accidentally buy you an original Xbox when you ask her for a One at Christmas? Was the Xbox 360 frequently mistaken for the 360th Xbox? The Nintendo 64 the 64th machine from Nintendo? Let's not forget that Sony is the only manufacturer to have latched onto the iterative numerical scheme, which seems dumber each and every time they reuse it. What am I supposed to derive from the name "PlayStation 4"? It's not even clear that it's the newest one.

Think in advertising terms for just one fucking second. "PlayStation" is a place to play games. "Wii", setting aside the silly spelling and urine jokes, is intended to bring people together around games. "Super NES" is a souped-up Nintendo entertainment system. These names are concise, identifiable, and communicate purpose. I know what they are with zero explanation. "Wii U", despite its awkward sound and failure to achieve its promise, indicates a move toward universality (similar to "One"). It should've been called the "Nintendo U", but Nintendo mistakenly overestimated the strength of the "Wii" brand (which was is fact more an albatross than a boon).

On the flipside, "Dreamcast" sounds like a fishing rod. "Gamecube" describes the shape of the physical device, which is good for identifiability, but fails to clarify a market position - what made it different from Nintendo 64. "Wonderswan" probably knocks it out of the park for weirdest and most nonsensical - then again, it wasn't really destined for English-speaking markets. "Turbo-Graphx 16" is too direct and hard to spell. It sounds more like a graphics chip or processor.
Ah yes, the Dreamcast
I could do more one-sentence reviews of console names if there's a lot of demand for that, but suffice to say that some are good and others are bad. If you have Asperger's or other diseases that make it hard to perceive the world from a generalized social standpoint, you may have trouble identifying which are which. Just wanted to get in a quick jab at the mentally unbalanced. But you're probably an idiot in one way or another if you made a forum post or comment about what a "terrible" name "Xbox One" is.


  1. I just like that I can call it the xbone.

    1. that's strike one for obscene comments

    2. Oh man, only strike one? I've been slacking.