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Is the 'Xbox Series X' name confusing?

Xbox Series X Reveal
Xbox Series X Reveal (Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series X was revealed at The Game Awards, alongside an incredibly impressive trailer for Hellblade II, comprised of in-engine footage. As tends to be the case with new console announcements, commentators set out to pick the device apart. So far, it seems that one "flaw" has risen above the other criticisms to take center stage in the wider narrative — that the Xbox Series X has a confusing name.

According to my Twitter feed, the fear is that confused grandparents will "accidentally" purchase an Xbox One X for little Timmy at Christmas, leading to mass disappointment-induced trauma (seriously, who are these grandparents buying $500+ dollar consoles for their grandkids?)

I keep seeing the Xbox Series X compared to the Wii successor, the Wii-U, which some blamed for the console's general failure. Of course, it was absolutely nothing to do with the Wii-U's hardware limitations. Funny then that nobody has been confused between the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X, either, but I digress.

The notion of the Xbox Series X name being "confusing" rings like hollow grasping at straws from concern trolls looking for any inlet to put the console down. Microsoft clarified in a statement that the next generation of Xbox consoles is simply called "Xbox," and that the "Series" part of the name will denote the different models. I expect then we'll get a less powerful Xbox Series S (rumored to be codenamed Lockhart). And future consoles may just be called "Xbox Series X (2025)," or something of that nature, similar to how laptops are often named. I've owned three different types of Razer Blade laptops, all with completely different designs and internals, while also sharing the same name. Have I been confused? No, but I am also someone who knows how to search for the differences in Google/Bing. You know, like practically everyone.

Xbox Series X

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The one time I recall being confused about a console naming convention was Nintendo's "New 3DS," which replaced and upgraded its old 3DS. To circumvent this cognitive horror that Nintendo had imparted upon me, I simply searched "Differences between 3DS and new 3DS." Lo and behold, thousands of articles comprehensively explaining the differences enlightened me in mere seconds.

We live in the information age. I am utterly convinced that literally nobody is going to find this confusing. Look at the damn thing; it's obviously not an Xbox One in any way, shape, or form. How do the ignorant masses manage to buy the correct phone every year if tech names are so damn confusing?

You can argue that you simply don't like the name — and that's fine. Because, when you're playing Halo Infinite at 8K resolution, I doubt you are going to be sitting there thinking, "oh wow, my enjoyment would be tenfold higher if the console had a cooler name." I at least hope not.

In any case, where do you stand on this apparently controversial topic? Vote in our poll, sound off in the comments, let's hear all the talking points. We're on the internet, after all.

Xbox Series X/S

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Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

33 Comments
  • It's not so much being confusing as it's being just plain BAD.
    First because you're using brandings that already exist, then because you put "series" (plural) but only show one console. And then because your clarification is that "the console will be just called Xbox". Well, then call it just "Xbox X". And whenever you release another one, call it "Xbox S", "Xbox C", "Xbox Y" etc. Specially if you intend to keep that naming scheme going forward.
    Consumers have better things to do than to just go around memorising dumb confusing branding names like fanboys like to do. If you don't make your names simple, consumers will move on. "How do the ignorant masses manage to buy the correct phone every year if tech names are so damn confusing?" Look at the phones that actually sell. Their names aren't confusing nor do they change every time a new phone comes out. "Galaxy S1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10". Simple. iPhone 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8".
    Then look at the brand that keep struggling. Xperia Z4, Z5, X, XZ, 1" And in fact, naming it something different might be an even worse idea. Xbox already enjoys poor consumer adoption outside the USA. If everytime you start building goodwill towards a product you go and change everything, all that work is thrown away.
    Had they gone with "Xbox One X (2020)" it would have meant exactly the same while capitalising on consumer awareness already created.
    But when, like Microsoft, you change the name of your console with each generation...well, that's not going to play in your favour. Will the name affect sales? Probably not.
    The people who were going to buy an Xbox will continue to go buy an Xbox (well...most of them). The people who were usure, however, are likely to go for the console with better consumer adoption in their region, regardless of the naming scheme.
  • The Galaxy naming conventions you reference as easy to understand are no different than for Xbox though. Xbox Series X, Series C, Series D, etc. I made up the last two, but C could stand for compact and D for digital. Also the Galaxy brand has other variants other than the S series.
  • "First because you're using brandings that already exist" Oh, you mean like Surface RT (later renamed to just Surface), Surface 2 and Surface 3? Because, you know, that's what they're going for: instead of naming the generation the new Xbox belongs to, they're naming the use case. As such, Series X will be about power, while Lockhart (Series S?) will be about affordability. I'd go even further and bet we might even see Xbox Headphones, Xbox Laptops and the like down the line, effectively establishing Xbox as the Microsoft brand for everything gaming related, even PCs.
  • @CJBS Microsoft had to explain it because of people like you. It's easy to understand yet somehow for people like you super confusing 😂 embarrassing really how u can see "Xbox Series X" as a full name and not for a generation of consoles to come.
  • Maybe one reason Xbox fails in Asian because the name is too long to pronounce or type for Asian people. PS and Wii/Switch has much simple name. When it's not convenient to speak or type, people tend to avoid using this name, and prefer to use other platforms of name if possible (not media, but just general chat, post, tweet where people tend to use less words), eventually leads to different level of influence.
    And it's also a failure if it's necessary to educate customers to understand the name.
  • @mullen
    No I don't think that's it. MS has a priority market. That's the US. Maybe after that they have English speaking market like UK, after that it's probably other European market. But all this is nothing compared to how much they'll cater and care for the US.
    In Japan, the XB brand is a lot more invisible in terms of media coverage compared to what it gets in the US. Not just that, for most generation MS didn't care too much about Asian games, why would Asians care for XB if MS didn't?
  • Language has part to do with it, the notion that Xbox doesn't care about Asian games is a little silly though. The thing about the Japanese market, is that it can border on jingoistic, as does the Korean Market, So Microsoft can, and has throw as much money possible at that market, but until there's enough change culturally it wont happen. Games like Katamari, Sword Art Online, Black Desert, Final Fantasy, Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter, are all hugely popular in Japan, and all available on xbox. There's tons of JRPGs, like Tales, Atlier, Romancing Saga, and Shenmue available too. The only game I think of that hasn't been on the Xbox, that was just announced as coming out now to the platform, is Yakuza. So the idea that MS isn't reaching out to, or welcoming Japanese devs...is false
  • Ok, but what about all the sub models of the phones that you named? Samsung has at least 4 different varients of the same Galaxy and Note series, iPhone has 3 of the newest series. How this so different? I agree that the series name is a little weird, but I also think that it might be the best name going forward as they really can't start numbering consoles after the 360 and then the One. If this is supposed to stop generations going forward, then going back to just Xbox (which they can't do without some subname because of the original) is the best option.
  • You're missing out all the other Galaxy and iPhone variants to suit your argument, thus your whole point collapses.
  • When I first saw the ad at game awards I assumed "series x" would be the collective name for this generation, and that the high-end and low-end consoles would get their own, more logical names. Calling a single console "series" whatever is IMO dumb and confusing.. but then Microsoft hasn't made much sense with their console names.
  • Not really confusing, although wish it was abit more imaginative lol. You can also read the name as xbox series 10 although if you use roman numerals for the xbox one x... it would read as xbox one ten or I suppose xbox eleven lol? If people arguments are grandparents will get confused about the name and buy the xbox one x... thus disappointing their grandkids to these people I'd say they don't know the value of money or in short, extremely ungrateful. The one x is no slouch and is a beast of a console, many kids would be doing hoops up and down the street if they ever got such a console. Besides the shapes are far too distinctive for anyone to make such mistake any way... if people can't tell the difference between two different shapes then they've got bigger problems to worry about lol.
  • Confusing? Let's see. This console is called "Xbox Series X". There's another one called "Xbox One X". So no. Different names. You just need to read. Problem nonexistent.
  • I see it as more of a long term problem. If everything is just going to be 'Xbox' in the upcoming gen, what happens in the gen after that? They'll need to distinguish between Scarlett and its successor and can't just keep calling it Xbox, and going back to suffixes at that point will just look really silly.
  • You can't understand? There are no more generations.
    Xbox one was the last generation. This is not even a new generation.
    Scarlett is a more powerful XB1, just like Scorpio.
    All Scarlett games will be playable on XB1 x, XB1 s (and possibly the original XB1 imo).
    This is what MS said.
    http://www.vgchartz.com/article/441396/head-of-xbox-game-studios-discuss...
  • It's not that hard to figure out. There's going to be a series of consoles. Hence the name Series X. Most like they'll release a Series S, or a Series C (for cloud), or something like that. Then when the next generation comes, they can just add numbers to the tiers. Series X2, Series S2, Series C2, and so forth, and they can follow this uniform structure that virtually the ENTIRE tech industry does and has been doing for years. I kinda need the console community, who buys phones, and keeps up gadgets to stop acting we're entering the "unknown" when some of those principals are adopted to game consoles
  • Like I said, if we're just going to end up with numbers and suffixes anyway, going back here is somewhat meaningless. I guess it isn't a 'problem' so much as an eyeroller just like when we got the unnumbered Surface Pro. The reply before yours is definitely interesting though. If from here their plan is to try and keep everything as compatible with each other as possible, that'll make this a good point to start something new and reflect that in their naming.
  • I can understand how it can be confusing for some people. ofc most of us who are into gaming won't find it confusing, I mean we knew what the Wii U was at the time, the casual and general public probably didn't . But I think it's ok. Personally, I would have preferred the Xbox One Series X as this is just a console upgrade or just a more powerful XB1.
  • You keep saying that it's just an upgrade but seem to ignore the fact that that's what any new console generation is, just an upgrade. Outside of Nintendo none of the console manufacturers are really thinking outside the box, Sony easily plays it the safest, make the system a bit more powerful, add one to the number and call it a day. Microsoft has made attempts to Branch out and try something new but it has, for the most part, not been received well, so they go back to what they're good at. But long story short, you don't have to keep saying it, we know Microsoft and Sony aren't innovative.
  • I keep saying it because MS said it.
    It cannot be a new generation all of a sudden just because that will help sell more of these consoles. "seem to ignore the fact that that's what any new console generation is, just an upgrade."
    But every console upgrade is not a new generation. XB1s/XB1x/PS4 pro were not new generation, just like XB series.
  • I didn't say any console upgrade is a new generation, I said any new generation is just a console upgrade. The thing is you constantly mention it like it's a bad thing, it isn't, it's what both Sony and Microsoft do it's just that Microsoft is finally being honest about the fact that generations are a farce (and really, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't actually mean anything).
  • I keep mentioning it because people talk about a new generation. I want people to know that they don't NEED to buy this console to play Scarlett games. I'm not sure many people know that this is just a console upgrade like what Scorpio was. This may not be a bad thing, but what's bad is that people are misinformed and might buy a console just because they think this is a new gen console. Buying a console so that they would still be able to play Scarlett games.
    They want to provide choice? Fine, let the people know about the choice, let's not try to hide that from people. For me, talking about "next gen", is exactly that... I mean this is like PC. I want to let people know that. My current PC is still capable of running upcoming games. I could get a better GPU to get ray tracing and better performance BUT I know I have the choice to do it.
    It actually means a LOT. If Sony does the same thing, I wouldn't have bothered to buy a PS5. In fact I'm not even sure if I'll ever get it until they make a good enough library that will make me want to buy it. One thing is sure, if Sony puts all their game future games to PC, I won't get a PS5.
  • It is like PC, but graphics cards are also talked about in generations so the same logic applies. Also we don't actually know that a Scarlett game disc will run on the Xbox One yet, it could merely be a reference to xCloud, no one has explicitly said that Scarlett discs will work, only that Scarlett games will be playable, and that could simply mean xCloud. We simply don't know enough to be certain of anything.
  • I thought I posted this in the past:
    http://www.vgchartz.com/article/441396/head-of-xbox-game-studios-discuss...
  • The names in and of themselves fail to correlate with the generation. Xbox One X could have been used for the current version with Series X being used for the last.
  • Hopefully, next year they don't unveil that a Series S will launch alongside Series X. Then, I'm sure you'll change your mind.
  • No issue other than I think it could have been better. Xbox SX or Xbox X2 probably could have been better names.
  • Or Xbox 2X, Xbox 2(X2 for short)
  • Ok, this is now doing the opposite of the tesla cybertruck(1st glance looked awful, hour later gotta have one) Series X sounded fine when it was announced, and now it doesnt sound so great...the letters S and X probably shouldn't be in one name. Imagine the galaxy SX instead of S10
  • Why can't the one s be the low end, one x the mid level, and the X2 :) be the new one. If they announce a new lower end xbox this is going to get uglier than it already is.... Damn it Microsoft!!! Always messing it up!!!!!!! WTF
  • It's not confusing, it's not very good either and (like mentioned above) incredibly unimaginative, but it isn't confusing.
  • It's exactly the same as apples 'iPad', it's a rebrand attempting to reach for simplicity. No doubt the Main Xbox will be called Xbox (Year), and then there will be variants. It's just aiming for less words, and indicating a start from stratch. Also 'Xbox' sort of includes PC now. Xbox studios, Xbox live, Xbox controllers, Gamepass, Xstream - all of these are more of a gaming ecosystem than a console now. And so it's fitting to simplify the naming conventions for a single unified branding. Honestly this is what it is about. If you have 'xstream' on an Android Device, or Gamepass on a PC, or xbox studios making games for PC (or heck, Android), having your console named 'Some longish three word thingo like 'xbox one Y' just makes no sense. Instead you have 'xbox studio', 'xstream' and simply 'xbox'. This is standard corporate branding, it's 100% common sense, and it's exactly what Apple has been doing.
  • I'd rather they just called it "xbox" or the 2020 xbox for reference.
  • I mean, it's a little late to get on MSFT for this. They messed up when they went with Xbox 360 instead of Xbox 2 in the 1st place. Relative to the One (again, going from 360 to One made zero sense) and One X, Series X is quite OK. Maybe we'll get the Xbox XX next iteration? 🤷‍♂️