NextBox? Xbox? Durango? 720? In this week’s Split Screen, Phil Nachum and Anton Wegenast debate the name of Microsoft’s upcoming console
Phil: Microsoft is scheduled to reveal its next generation console on May 21. Codenamed Durango and colloquially referred to as Xbox 720, there’s much speculation as to what the console will actually be called.
Some potential titles that have been theorized are the domain registered Xbox Fusion, Xbox Infinite or Infinity, and simply Xbox. I think the most likely choice is Xbox Infinite. Namely, because of process of elimination. Fusion, sounds too 90s, and is more likely the name of some sort of feature or initiative – likely a fusion of Xbox and Windows, or of Xbox and cable programming. Meanwhile, simply calling it Xbox, would be a source of confusion.
Anton: I agree that the name Fusion is a little hokey. Hopefully it’s the name of their content streaming service, or the name of the dashboard when paired with a Windows PC. I will disagree that simply Xbox would be confusing. I think it has been long enough since the original console, and Xbox is looking to consolidate their brand identity. The 720 name is ridiculous, and Microsoft will be looking to simplify the name of their next generation.
Phil: It’s true that Microsoft is seeking to consolidate the Xbox brand. Xbox no longer refers to a console. Even the games tile on Windows 8 is called Xbox. But that’s precisely why I think it would be a source of confusion. There needs to be a way to differentiate between all the different uses of Xbox. Every other use, be it Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Xbox Music, and so on always has some identifier after the word Xbox. Xbox alone refers to a brand or a category. Using it to also refer to a singular device would be confusing.
Anton: You raise a good point. Microsoft is a fan of adding descriptors behind their products. Windows Phone and Windows RT differentiate between different applications of Windows 8. It could help the association of Xbox with games if they just merge the device and the concept of play together though. You also have to consider how a name is used in practice. Many people just say 360 or Xbox already, just the same as they say Vista.
Phil: Indeed, the Xbox 360 is referred to as Xbox, as often as it’s referred to as 360. This, I think, would be an additional source of confusion. When the PS4 was announced, I could tell my non-gamer friends about it, and they were immediately aware of what I meant. Sony has established an intuitive and clear naming convention. While Microsoft doesn’t quite have that convenience – Xbox 360 backed them into a corner – they can take steps to provide a similar effect of making it clear that the new console is in fact a new console. For example, in 2010, when the redesign of the Xbox 360 was announced, this could have also been referred to as the new Xbox. So if yet another new Xbox, is announced, how clear will it be to a mainstream audience that it’s a new console?
Anton: Are we in agreement that the 720 name is absolutely out? You can’t just add 360 every time. Think of the next generation after: Xbox 1080? Give me a break. Over the past 12 years, Xbox has established itself, and is looking to continue its legacy. I expect the new console will look radically different from the previous generations, so just by design the new console will establish a unique profile. It has been suggested that some form of Kinect 2.0 will be included, if not integrated right into the hardware. Microsoft is big on selling the idea of one box integrating multiple services; a hub. So Fusion and Infinite support that idea. Which is most likely do you think, if not simply Xbox?
Phil: Yes, I agree that 720 is out of the question. 360 had some sort of meaning and significance, and coincided with the circular lights around the power button. 720 doesn’t really represent anything, other than a stubborn attachment to a naming convention. Infinite isn’t necessarily the best name, but of the proposed ones we’ve seen, I think it’s the frontrunner. It works well with the Windows 8 branding (a sideways 8) and it seems in line with Microsoft’s strategy to make its console about more than gaming. I can already envision the “infinite possibilities” tagline.
Anton: As a large company, Microsoft is always looking to the future projects. Like 360, Infinite is painting them into a corner. I mean, how do you beat Infinite as a name in the next generation? Perhaps the real name is something we haven’t heard before at all?
Phil: Indeed, that is a problem. You can’t get bigger than Infinite. But this could be nearly 10 years from now. We don’t know what the console climate will look like. It’s definitely possible that the name will be something that hasn’t yet been proposed. That would be the most interesting scenario.
Follow Phil on Twitter: @philpee2
Follow Anton on Twitter: @virussixzero