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Xbox’s next-gen naming convention has been criticised by key industry figures, following the announcement of Xbox Series S.
Xbox Series S is Microsoft’s second next-gen console due for release this year, alongside the more powerful Xbox Series X. The current-gen Xbox One S is also still in the market, along with the last remaining units of the discontinued Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.
The platform holder is also actively promoting subscriptions services Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox All Access.
On Tuesday confusion was clearly widespread around Microsoft‘s naming structure for its Xbox products, with the Series S announcement causing ‘One X’ to trend on Twitter with mentions of Xbox One S, Xbox One, Series S and Series X.
Nuclear Throne developer Rami Ismail shared the trending topic and said it was proof of the confusing naming convention.
“For the folks arguing last week that the Xbox naming is absolutely not confusing and everybody calls it Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S and the game developers who trip up are incompetent: this was the immediate *trending* response to the Xbox Series S and Series X announcements,” he said.
Shahid Ahmad, who spent a decade at PlayStation, most recently in the role of director for strategic content, also said he thought the naming convention was confusing.
“Obviously I’m biased, but I find the Xbox nomenclature confusing,” he wrote. “With PlayStation, I know if I buy a PS5, that it’s going to be a generational leap over the PS4. If I buy an Xbox Series S though, where does that sit and what am I missing out on by not getting a Series X?
“And if I’m a bit confused, imagine the average punter. There’s something to be said for a simplified product line and a straightforward pricing strategy.”
He added: “I see a lot of people dropping their jaws at $299. It’s a good price, but for what? Is it an upgrade to the Xbox One X? Will I have buyer’s remorse once I see my pals playing 4K games at 60fps on a device that cost almost twice as much?”
The former Sony exec clarified that he wanted to see Xbox do well and that his comments shouldn’t be viewed as a criticism of the consoles themselves.
Gamer Network’s head of games B2B, Christopher Dring, told VGC he believed the confusion around Xbox’s naming structure was ultimately temporary and part of the company’s transition to a new model.
Once Microsoft is able to properly transition from its Xbox One consoles, the naming convention should make more sense, he said.
“Microsoft is moving its games business into a new service-based era, and you’ll be able to access that service either via xCloud, PC, or its two console lines — the high-end X device and the lower-end S product. It’s a model that has existed in the console space before, and it’s something that has worked very well in the smartphone market,” he said.
“The confusion comes when you throw Xbox One and its various editions into the mix. Combine that with all the different subscription offerings, and the consumer needs to do a lot of work to decipher what’s on offer. It’s certainly a big task for the Xbox marketing team, which has been proactive all year in trying to explain its vision.
“Yet as the months role on, as Microsoft’s offering becomes more obvious and Xbox One begins to disappear from shelves, the proposition will become clearer. And I expect, going forward, Microsoft will simply continue iterating on those X and S console lines, and there will be no traditional ‘next generation’ upgrade beyond this point.”
In December 2019 Microsoft indicated that it intended to simplify the Xbox product line by calling its next-generation console simply, ‘Xbox’.
“The name we’re carrying forward to the next generation is simply Xbox,” a Microsoft representative told Business Insider. “Similar to what fans have seen with previous generations, the name ‘Xbox Series X’ allows room for additional consoles in the future,” the Microsoft rep told us.