I Can’t With These Confusing Xbox Names

This is a next-generation Xbox. But not the best one.
This is a next-generation Xbox. But not the best one.

With the price of one of the next-generation Xbox consoles confirmed and the other one likely forthcoming as Microsoft and Sony’s big game of next-gen pricing chicken drags on, there needs to be a frank discussion about the names of these consoles. A discussion wherein I sit down with Mr. Microsoft and ask a simple question: What the fuck?


These are the names of the current and forthcoming Xbox consoles, in order of reveal:

  • Xbox One
  • Xbox One S
  • Xbox One X
  • Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
  • Xbox Series X
  • Xbox Series S

This is getting ridiculous.

To the casual observer (and hell even industry professionals), this naming taxonomy is confusing as hell and likely to create consumer misunderstandings and purchasing mishaps. Let’s say it’s Holiday 2020 and you’re an inexperienced person who plays video games looking for a new console. Here are your choices: A PS4, a PS5, an Xbox Series X and an Xbox One X.

As you muse over Sony’s offerings you’re immediately able to tell that the PS5 is probably the newer console, as five is greater than four. But crossing into your local Best Buy’s Green Section, Microsoft’s cumbersome naming scheme makes the “which one is the latest version” distinction much less apparent. Is the “Series” suffix important here, or the “One”? That’s not even taking into consideration the further breakdown of the Series X and the Series S. What is X? What is S? Even having official confirmation of what the words S and X stand for would help. But we only have colloquial knowledge that the S stands for “slim”. (And even then, it’s for the previous generation.) What is the X for? Extra? Excessive?

Ok, Ash, you pedant, the price of the consoles should clearly give it away, since newer things are more expensive. True. While we don’t yet know the price of the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S is reported to be $299. You know what’s also retailing for $299 right now? The Xbox One S.

This nomenclature is unnecessary and the confusion it engenders is totally avoidable. The chosen consonants to distinguish the two consoles are even similar in sound: “ess” vs “ecks”. I can already hear the belabored conversations consumers are going to have with retail associates:

“I want the Xbox Series Ecks.”

“Did you say Series Ess or Series Ecks?”

Throw an accent or a crappy phone connection into the mix and all hell will break loose this Christmas.


Source: I am a former retail associate with many similar encounters under her belt. (Looking at you Nintendo Wii/Wii U.)

This is all speculation of course. Maybe come November the nightmare scenarios I’ve outlined above won’t come to pass. But it’s not even been 24 hours since the Xbox Series S reveal and I’ve already seen tweets confusing the S and the X. Having to rely on extra information like price and the presence of a disk drive to tell which console is which is just bad design.


The next generation of consoles claims to focus on speed and ease of use, conveying vast amounts of information at the highest of speeds. Shouldn’t their names also meet that standard? This “Series” series of Xboxes doesn’t do that.

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I Was Saying Boo-urner

I think people outside of the game-o-sphere are more used to this kind of naming convention than they’re getting credit for. High-end machine has “X” designation, lower end machine has “S” designation, with Microsoft having ditched the middle of the road option this go-round, at least for the time being.

Phones have been using this kind of branding for years. I think there will be growing pains as there is with all changes in branding — ask Infinity and Hyundai dealership employees, for instance — but they’ll be grown through as they always are.

I don’t think you’re being pedantic, I just think what seems to be the prevailing opinion in the gaming community is, as is often the case, based in the bubble. I see it as a simplification in branding specifically meant for those outside the bubble. I think people are overthinking this to the point that it borders on naval gazing.