What’s In A Name? ‘Xbox One’ Could Confuse Average Gamers

What’s In A Name? ‘Xbox One’ Could Confuse Average Gamers

Yesterday, when Microsoft finally announced the successor to its Xbox 360, Don Mattrick took the stage with a giddy grin. “Today, we’re thrilled to unveil the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system,” the Microsoft executive said. “The one with the power to create experiences that look and feel like nothing else.

The one that makes your TV more intelligent. The one system for a new generation. Ladies and gentlemen: introducing Xbox One.”

One. One. One. The rhetoric has a nice rhythm, doesn’t it? And indeed, when I first heard the name, I thought it was kind of neat. Xbox One: the one device you need in your living room. The Power of One.

Then I started talking to friends about it. Not hardcore gamer friends — the friends who play Call of Duty and Madden and occasionally Skyrim, and who don’t read websites like Kotaku unless one of our articles happens to pop up on their Facebook feeds. Here’s an example of what these conversations have looked like:

Jason: “So have you heard anything about Xbox One?”

Friend: “Nope. What’s that?”

Jason: “The new Xbox. It was just announced yesterday.”

Friend: “Oh. Wasn’t Xbox One the first Xbox?”

Now I’m worried. I’m worried because Microsoft’s press conference yesterday was not designed for the hardcore gamer, yet the hardcore gamer is the person who needs to explain to his or her friends just what an Xbox One is. I suspect that a lot of us will be calling it “the new Xbox,” which strikes me as a recipe for disaster. Just ask the Wii U.

Granted, the Wii U was its own kind of disaster: I’ll always remember sitting in the audience and watching the looks of confusion during Nintendo’s E3 press conference in 2011, when the Mario makers announced a new console that looked and sounded like a Wii accessory. The name “Wii U” still confuses people today, to the point where Nintendo needed to write up special marketing materials just to explain that it’s a new machine. (Seriously, why couldn’t they just go with “Wii 2”?)

But the situation might be similar. This is the year of the prequel, and the name “Xbox One” sounds like it will fit nicely alongside Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed IV. When your average video game fan hears the name “Xbox One,” he or she will not think, “Oh, that’s the one device I need in my living room.” He/she will think, “Why did they go back 359?”

Average people might not see Xbox One as an accessory, but they sure could think it’s a remake of the first Xbox. Or a lesser version of the Xbox 360. And while this sort of brand confusion may not destroy Microsoft’s new console, it could very well hurt Xbox One in the single market Microsoft is pursuing hardest: casual TV watchers and video game fans.

CNET asked Microsoft program manager Jeff Henshaw about this confusion, and his answer was not comforting:

I think after today, there’s just no question about it. I think there was a few minutes of “hmm” but then as soon as people realise what it’s all about and understand the experience, the One brand immediately gets applied to this new generation of experience.

The thing you have to bear in mind, is that if you look at the original Xbox, the experiences have grown to become so dramatically rich and different. There’s no resemblance anymore between the two. You can’t confuse them in any way. So when people say “Xbox One,” it’s going to be reflective of this new generation of experiences. I really don’t think there’s going to be any confusion.

Hubris! There might not be much of a resemblance between the old Xbox and the Xbox One, but can “Xbox One” really dig its claws into pop culture the way “Xbox 360” did? Or will we all just casually refer to it as “the new Xbox” when talking to our friends and family members, for fear of confusing the heck out of people who don’t religiously keep up on gaming news?

As Microsoft touts the futuristic new features that really could be game-changers, like cloud computing and an overhauled version of the Kinect body sensor, they have saddled their system with a name that evokes the past. “Xbox One” does not say next-gen; it says “we’re starting over.” And I think it will confuse more than it clarifies.


  • I just keep thinking of the HTC One…….

    At least they didn’t call it Xbox 720 – that name just shits me.

    • Indeed… I wonder if Microsoft looked at HTC when they named their phone the HTC One and said “what a great idea”

      I’m not keen on Xbox 720 either….but it would have been better than calling it Xbox One

  • Well, they dug their own grave the minute they named the 360. From that point ordinal numbers and sequence were out, and words was all they had. Then they chose the worst possible word.

  • Can’t believe it wasn’t the first thing anyone thought. Wasn’t the whole point of naming it the 360 to avoid having Xbox 2 go up against PS3? They didn’t want people to think it was inferior because it was numerically lower. So why now pit Xbox One against the PS4? It’s madness, especially given the Wii U situation. Parents, grannies, ‘casuals’, they’re all going to be confused and/or apathetic. Then, if they bother to dig any deeper, when they find out that it’s a machine that features games as a third or fourth priority, with TV and sport features not available in this country shoved to the forefront, then it will struggle tremendously.

      • I think people saying games as a low priority are being silly, ms knows they can do games well, in fact better than Sony and Nintendo at this stage, wouldn’t say better but almost part to pc in terms of multiplayer and quality
        Regardless they are advertising this new crap to appeal to a wider market trust me games will not be neglected it wouldn’t be a games console otherwise.

        • I’ve owned an Xbox 360 and a PS3 for the last 5/6 years. I started out playing more 360 than PS3, but over the last few years Microsoft’s seem to have shifted from games to that of a more TV, music, movie, and social media focus. The number of exclusive games have waned, whereas Sony’s exclusives have flourished.

          The amount of ads, TV, and social media nonsense on Xbox has seen the games tab on the 360 slowly move further down the ladder (the left hand side of the screen). I’m not interested in using my console to watch TV or stream whatever (even if those services were available to us in Australia). I don’t want to go on facebook or twitter or any of that nonsense on my games machine. It seems like games are no longer their priority on the 360 and that’s why these days I use my PS3 a hell of a lot more. Nothing they showed yesterday made me think that the One’s approach will be any different.

          • Lol, the very fact that it’s a share ‘button’ means that pressing it is entirely optional. With MS all this crap is in your face and you can’t get away from it ever, unless you close your eyes and shove your fingers in your ears and go ‘La LA LA LA LA LA!’ in your loudest voice.

          • Xbox One has precisely the same share feature, but without the button on the controller. They already demonstrated this. I find it interesting that people are slamming the Xbox One when in reality it basically has all the same features as the PS4.

    • There’s more than one meaning for the word “One”. Like “low, “first”, “best” and “all”. Completely different situation from the Xbox 2.

      • Oh I’m not saying that it’s the same situation, but if they employed that thinking previously it seems like some of that mindset should have stuck. If numbers denoting iteration could be construed as confusing then it’s best to avoid them. I totally get the ‘One-ness’ thing, that it encapsulates all media, etc, but will the majority of the public? Probably not, just look at the confusion over the Wii U.

        • Wii U is a different situation too. What on earth does the U even stand for?? Having a number suffixed usually represents a version, U doesn’t have much meaning so it’s easier to think it’s an expansion for the Wii.
          Besides, what are they going to confuse the Xbox One with? The original Xbox from about 8 years ago? Doubt it. Wii U however gets confused with the Wii because it came out right after it. Had there been another console and an 8 year gap between them, there probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

  • I really can’t believe people are even worried about this…

    1. It’s just a name – when I refer to my 360, I just say Xbox anyway.
    2. Very small percentage of people/if any (after all the hype leading up to Xmas release) will get confused.
    3. Could confused average gamers? No. Could confuse, way, way,way below average gamers.
    4.. It’s just a name.

  • Infinite/Infinity seem alot better now!

    In hindsight, with the direction they are taking the console I get the feeling they wanted to re-launch the brand, the all in one entertainment box they claim it to be. However, there is a part of me that thinks their first consideration might have been what Apple did with the iPad. (ie : The New XBOX)

    Ultimately, they would have been hammered by people suggesting they were copying Apple and seeing as this console is looking to go partially head to head with Apple TV, MS wouldn’t want that, so they started back at One (and of course you have to spell the word, because it looks classy, but only when it is the “number 1”, anything above that doesn’t)

  • Yeah personally I think this just as bad as WiiU although that consoles’ main problem is that Nintendo set a precedent with all their unnecessary DS iterations and then they compounded that by making a fairly indistinct looking box that is always pushed to the back of their marketing material.

  • Here’s what I’m thinking – what are they going to call the next one? This might be the ultimate home entertainment device to rule them all now, but they like money, so there will be another one. Infinite would have been a hard act to follow, but in 8 years are we going to be hearing about the Xbox 2?

    Or Xbox U?

  • Just wait for the eBay disputes.

    “The listing says Xbox One!”
    “And I sent you the first Xbox. What’s the problem?”

  • He/she will think, “Why did they go back 359?”
    My first thought was with the degrees of a circle. The next degree after 360 is 1.

    Regardless, still calling it the Xbone.

    • But the PSOne was just a revamp of the Playstation….

      Xbox One is a complete step over the 360. The PSOne was different in design and I think its GUI, but other than that, it was a Playstation through and through…

    • Except the PSOne was just the smaller version of the PSX which was the original name and the first Playstation, not the third one. They renamed it to PSOne to avoid confusion with the DVR attachment they released for the PS2 which they named the PSX as well.

  • really?? Xbox One will confuse the average gamer…. really??

    No average gamer would be confused by this. its just a name. Worse case someone will come in asking for the latest xbox.

  • Should have gone with Xbox 3 , with the 3 being superscript (as in cubed).

    It works on multiple levels, 3 to signify 3rd gen, the superscript suggests that it’s exponentially more powerful than previous version, and ‘cubed’ matches the shape of the new Xbox,

  • You know what the problem I have with the name is? It’s misleading.

    Xbox One: the one device you need in your living room*
    * Xbox one is actually two devices. You will also probably still need your cable box. And of course you’ll still need to keep your 360 plugged in to play your existing games.

    • It has a HDMI through. It just means that you plug the hdmi from your smart tv or foxtel into the xbox one and back into the tv, meaning that you never need to change the tv channel and can multitask more efficiently. You don’t need to purchase any other box unless you don’t already have digital tv, which would be pretty unlikely in 2013.

  • When he was talking about the specs, when I heard “Now the ‘xbox ones’ specs…” I automatically thought they were describing the first xbox’s specs and were going to move up to show the improvement. So if it can confuse a hardcore gamer who isn’t quite paying attention I’m sure it could confuse less game-culture savvy consumers

  • Seriously? People generally call their 360’s just simply Xbox or 360 and everyone knows what’s going on. Now we can just refer to the One as Xbox and the 360 as the 360… Nobody ever really needs to mention the original Xbox these days and if they do they can call it just that, the original Xbox.
    You would have to be of rather below average intelligence to get in any way seriously confused by the situation.
    Its really not hard and people are just being douchebags about the whole thing IMHO.

  • This is the year of the prequel, and the name “Xbox One” sounds like it will fit nicely alongside Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed IV. Er, I think 4 comes after 3, or 1 for that matter…

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