When Microsoft officially unveiled their next-gen console, the Xbox One, to the world back in May their presentation was focused on touting the device’s new features while also teasing new content. They were, after all, trying to sell gamers on a console that, at the time, was trying to do some revolutionary, but not necessarily consumer friendly, things.
And so it’s with good reason that Microsoft’s development team didn’t see the writing on the wall — that the Xbox One name had its own “flaws.” Not just because it’s the third generation console not the first, but also because the easiest and most efficient way to shorten the console’s name is to call it the “Xbone.”
As Microsoft’s Phil Spencer admits, he didn’t see the Xbone name coming. He’d been, as he says, looking at the name for months, but he never put the Xbone combination together.
“At first, I guess the thing that bugged me the most is I didn’t see it. I’d been looking at the name for Xbox One for months, and I wasn’t clever enough to merge them and come up with Xbone.”
He should have, though, as the Xbone moniker soon carried a very negative connotation, brought on by gamer backlash over Internet connection requirements and game sharing restrictions. As most know, those features have since been abandoned by Microsoft, but the Xbone doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Xbox 180’s aside, the Xbone name is something that Microsoft, at least according to Major Nelson, is not happy with. Microsoft was apparently so unhappy with the name that they bought the Xbone.com URL to prevent any further bad press.
However, while Major Nelson thinks the Xbone name is “disrespectful,” Phil Spencer has a little more perspective on the unfortunate name. He understands that the Xbone name has already entered the zeitgeist, and that it likely won’t go anywhere.
“But, you know, I think it’s going to stick. I think we can say we don’t like it as much as we want, but it’s a clever use of the name. Probably not the most flattering name, but I think it’s going to be there.”
Moreover, he thinks it’s actually a clever way to abbreviate the name…even if it isn’t the most flattering. That doesn’t mean Microsoft will be running any ads with the Xbone name either, as that will likely ruffle a few parents’ feathers.
“Embrace? I think we know it’s there. I don’t think you’ll see us running ads that say Xbone… but, yeah, it’s a clever use of the name.”
With the Xbone URL now in their control, though, Microsoft could potentially leverage the name to their benefit. They can choose to take a name that at one point was used to mock them and try to embrace it — something that Spencer says his company isn’t likely to do right now — or they can ignore it.
To come out and say Xbone is a “disrespectful” name only seems to make things worse. Better to let gamers call it the Xbone, because at the very least that means they’re talking about your console.
Do you think that Microsoft should embrace the “Xbone” name? Does the Xbone name always carry a negative connotation or is it just the easiest way to shorten Xbox One?
The Xbox One releases November 22, 2013.