Since the Xbox One‘s announcement back in May, the most popular play on words thrown at the console by detractors is the Xbone for… well, obvious reasons. Clearly used as a name of animosity for Microsoft and their product thanks to its large list of controversial policies and features when first revealed, the title has stuck to the console wherever there is a forum or comment section in the gaming community.
However, this kind of wordplay is not exclusive to the Xbox One as the internet culture is full of play on characters, products and hardware names all the time (see: Red Ring of Death). Rarely do the names carry much venom, often used in jest or as light insult. Major Nelson, otherwise known as Microsoft’s Director of Programming for Xbox Live Larry Hyrb, doesn’t much like the name.
In a forum conversation at NeoGAF, Hryb said:
“I don’t like it… it disrespects the teams that have put in thousands of hours (already) into the development of the product. Sure, it’s cheeky but I don’t care for it myself.”
On one hand, Hyrb makes a fair point. Sometimes it is not always easy to remember that games and hardware don’t just come from an omnipotent company, often the work of thousands of people who deserve more thoughtful criticism than flippant comments. On the other hand, they are just flippant comments posted on the internet and calling them out as ‘disrespectful’ could come off to some as overly defensive.
However, in a weird show of dichotomy, WHOIS (via Fusible) records show that Microsoft has validated Hyrb, showing it is made up of many opinions by going against his words and picking up the URL Xbone.com. Currently it takes you to a Bing search for the term Xbone, but it will be interesting to see if Microsoft has any further plans for their new acquisition. Microsoft’s intentions for buying the domain name aren’t entirely clear at this point, but it is likely one of two things. The more probable of the two is that Microsoft is just picking up the name to hold and keep out of the hands of their critics who might plan to use the domain for nefarious purposes.
It is also possible that the company plan to use it as a showing of self-awareness and reclaiming the pejorative. By donning the name, the company could potentially make it a term that isn’t negatively associated with the console, a possible move having the link redirect to Microsoft’s store to buy a console. While that would be a fun interplay with the term and community, the biggest way to rid the console of the name would be to win fans over with reveals and reversals, which to their credit, they have been attempting to do.
It will be intriguing to see what Microsoft does and what the community thinks of the Xbone domain acquisition, if anything. Is Hyrb right in saying it is disrespectful to call the Xbox One the Xbone? Can Microsoft own the term for good? Have they done enough to shake the name in recent months?
The Xbox One launches November 22, 2013 in North America.