I Can’t With These Confusing Xbox Names

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This is a next-generation Xbox. But not the best one.
This is a next-generation Xbox. But not the best one.

With the price of one of the next-generation Xbox consoles confirmed and the other one likely forthcoming as Microsoft and Sony’s big game of next-gen pricing chicken drags on, there needs to be a frank discussion about the names of these consoles. A discussion wherein I sit down with Mr. Microsoft and ask a simple question: What the fuck?

These are the names of the current and forthcoming Xbox consoles, in order of reveal:

  • Xbox One
  • Xbox One S
  • Xbox One X
  • Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
  • Xbox Series X
  • Xbox Series S

This is getting ridiculous.

To the casual observer (and hell even industry professionals), this naming taxonomy is confusing as hell and likely to create consumer misunderstandings and purchasing mishaps. Let’s say it’s Holiday 2020 and you’re an inexperienced person who plays video games looking for a new console. Here are your choices: A PS4, a PS5, an Xbox Series X and an Xbox One X.

As you muse over Sony’s offerings you’re immediately able to tell that the PS5 is probably the newer console, as five is greater than four. But crossing into your local Best Buy’s Green Section, Microsoft’s cumbersome naming scheme makes the “which one is the latest version” distinction much less apparent. Is the “Series” suffix important here, or the “One”? That’s not even taking into consideration the further breakdown of the Series X and the Series S. What is X? What is S? Even having official confirmation of what the words S and X stand for would help. But we only have colloquial knowledge that the S stands for “slim”. (And even then, it’s for the previous generation.) What is the X for? Extra? Excessive?

OK, Ash, you pedant, the price of the consoles should clearly give it away, since newer things are more expensive. True. While we don’t yet know the price of the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S is reported to be $US299 ($413). You know what’s also retailing for $US299 ($413) right now? The Xbox One S.

This nomenclature is unnecessary and the confusion it engenders is totally avoidable. The chosen consonants to distinguish the two consoles are even similar in sound: “ess” vs “ecks”. I can already hear the belaboured conversations consumers are going to have with retail associates:

“I want the Xbox Series Ecks.”

“Did you say Series Ess or Series Ecks?”

Throw an accent or a crappy phone connection into the mix and all hell will break loose this Christmas.

Source: I am a former retail associate with many similar encounters under her belt. (Looking at you Nintendo Wii/Wii U.)

This is all speculation of course. Maybe come November the nightmare scenarios I’ve outlined above won’t come to pass. But it’s not even been 24 hours since the Xbox Series S reveal and I’ve already seen tweets confusing the S and the X. Having to rely on extra information like price and the presence of a disk drive to tell which console is which is just bad design.

The next generation of consoles claims to focus on speed and ease of use, conveying vast amounts of information at the highest of speeds. Shouldn’t their names also meet that standard? This “Series” series of Xboxes doesn’t do that.

Comments

    • Man, you should hear the horror stories from people shopping on the ground. A lot of regular gamers forget just how disconnected the millions of families that walk into a store and just buy something for their kids are from all of this.

    • Anyone with common sense? That’s cute. That would be, me, you, and a minority of people – in terms of Xmas shopping retail, nobody has common sense, nor would do research.

    • If your email address is anything to go by, you work in retail.

      You know for a fact that humans as a whole are idiot machines producing nothing but stupid. Why would this be any different?

  • Xbox one S & X has been discontinued. Im not sure you can even get the one X from JB hifi anymore. Not sure you’ll have any other xbox option by launch day apart from the Series X & S.

    problem solved

    • Only the All Digital editions have been discontinued. The disc based versions will still be around for a while yet.

      • the one x doesn’t have a digital version to my knowledge. And you cant get them a jb anymore, pretty sure its all consoles and not digital only

        • Yeah, the 1X has been discontinued. Which makes sense given the price point it was at. It wouldn’t have been that big a jump in dollars to get a Series X, so it’s hard to see the 1X still having a market.

  • How is this more confusing than half the stuff Nintendo releases?

    I never actually understood the difference between the DS and DSi and yet then we move into the 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS (and XL variation), 2Ds, New 2DS, and when you fire up a 2DS it has the screen showing ‘3DS’..
    I get that these consoles are generations apart, but there are some games which only work on the new 3DS despite the older 3DS still being available for a while.

    And let’s not even tough on the Wii to Wii U..

    I agree, Sony’s is more definitive and clean and I like it more, but then again Sony IS going for generation leaps and Microsoft is going for iteration similar to phones/tablets (which again, look at the iPad range to get thoroughly confused!)

    • I’d agrue that in most cases with Nintendo handhelds the name actually tells you the difference. A 3DS is 3D, a 2D is 2D, XL means bigger, NEW means newer….

      Xbox One after the Xbox 360 after the first Xbox doesnt mean anything. S, X, Series… if you gave me a list of names in a vacuum you’d never guess what order they came in or what their features were.

      I love Xbox and will be buying one (is that One?) and even ive just been calling it “the new X box” cause the name doesnt instantly come to me.

      It’s a shitshow. As bad as the Wii/ WiiU but with more.confusing variations.

      • True, but a 2DS doesn’t play 2DS games it plays 3DS games so when a parent goes to buy one they need to look for games with 3DS packaging which, I would imagine to parents who have no idea of these things, may be as confusing as Xbox one x vs Xbox series x..

        And left in a vacuum you would assume 3DS came after 2DS..

        Hmmm.. maybe Sony is onto something with their naming convention..

  • How did we survive when we had Megadrives becoming Saturns, or Super Nintendoes becoming Nintendo 64.

    What does it mean? In the 40+ years of console marketing, has this EVER really mattered?

    Seriously. Sony number their consoles. It’s pretty predictable. Good for them. Does everyone have to now? It’s not like people unsure of the name wouldn’t just ask for “the new xbox”, then be asked “the big one or the cheaper one ? sir or madam?”

  • Settle down Grandpa.

    Hell, I’m 42 and I’m ok with these names, it doesn’t worry me. Noone needs to fret over these. First world problems and all that.

  • Might well catch some casual gamers out, although it’s not as bad as the Switch where the updated version has the same name, and you have to check the picture on the packaging or SKU to know the difference!

    Just wondering what the physical games will have on the side tab? Xbox Series?

  • Gawd, I still remember the problems we had with simple things like the 360 and PS3.

    Thankfully most people know what they want but Christmas was the absolute worst for clueless shoppers.

    • If you’ve ever worked in retail you should understand that this is 100% an issue.

      If I were a praying man, my prayers would be with the retail workers this christmas when people come looking for the nintendo playstation one X and yell at poor teenagers until they walk out with a tiny arcade cabinet.

      • Or just screaming they want Mario for the PS5 and not believing the person that it’s a Nintendo exclusive as why would Nintendo not make games for their competitors.

        • Exactly!
          I’ve been screamed at for lying about a stargate boxed set not being released yet. the fact that I’m pointing to the catalogue that says the release date means nothing to the garbage fuck who insists she saw it on the shelf last week. i didn’t even work at the shop. I was the security guard helping out the staff during the Christmas rush.

          People are the worst.

  • Look, clearly Microsoft saw how the XBox S All Digital got abbreviated to XBox SaD and wanted the Series X to be abbreviated to XBox SeX. Not sure what the Series X is supposed to abbreviate to though, maybe the XBox Sssss.

  • I worked at EB as a store manager for 5 years. I was there for the 360 launch up until the Wii U. This generation of XBox naming is the worst I’ve seen.

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