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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Xbox Series X and Naming

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - How is one supposed to judge hardware?

For all of the correct statements one can make about The Game Awards being an awful ceremony that damages civilisation, there was one newsworthy event from The Game Awards 2019 (though it later had to be walked back): Microsoft's head of gaming, Phil Spencer, appeared and revealed the Xbox Series X. In our reaction log, our only things we had to say about it were, “That's a bad name” and asking, “Is ‘Xbox Series X’ supposed to be a Mega Man X reference?” Here's the useless trailer:


Previously known as Project Scarlett (and shown with similarly-scant detail at Microsoft's E3 2019), Xbox Series X isn't the name of the new console. It's the Xbox. Just that. Series X describes the build of it. There may be more of those builds with different particulars, but otherwise, Microsoft is dropping everything else and just going with Xbox. The console is a little tower (which people are unfairly bullying like they did to the GameCube) you just turn off and on and put disks into.

I'm not quite sure how this plays into Microsoft also saying a few years ago that the concept of game console generations will now be done away with.

I thought at some point in KoopaTV's history I wrote an article about the common idea that the Wii U's name was why the console was a commercial failure. The theory went that way too many people—especially given the casual nature of the Wii install base that didn't necessarily follow gaming news closely—thought the Wii U was a peripheral-based device to the Wii, not a whole new console to buy. And somehow, the whole $300 or $350 MSRP (depending on if you bought the Basic or Deluxe set) didn't clue people in that this is something different.

I never fully bought into that theory about it all being the Wii U's name. The failure to really communicate and push the Wii U's value (especially on obvious asymmetric gameplay ideas) is what did it.

Just like the Xbox Series X, the Wii U went out of its way to be consumer-friendly and have many backwards compatibility options. That also confused people, since it's seen as interchangeable with the old console... and thus being an extension of the old console, instead of being its own thing.

But maybe there is something to that theory, because I'm really trying to understand the differences between the Xbox One, the Xbox One S, the Xbox One X, and the Xbox Series X. It's just totally confounding to me why there are so many SKUs and why they're named in such a meaningless manner. Perhaps that's how people felt about Wii vs. Wii U. I wonder if that's how casual people feel about the Nintendo 3DS vs. Nintendo 3DS XL vs. New Nintendo 3DS vs. New Nintendo 3DS XL vs. Nintendo 2DS vs. New Nintendo 2DS XL. Well, the XL part should be pretty self-explanatory. I guess the “new” conveys it's better in some way.

These companies have “help me choose” quizzes to help consumers navigate the best SKU for them, like the Xbox one for the Xbox One (X vs. S vs. S Digital), along with feature comparisons. Sometimes these aren't all that useful, however. Most people don't know what the hell a teraflop is, and if the Xbox One X specifically having 6 teraflops of processing power is very important. (How many teraflops does the Xbox One S have? It's just marketing buzzwords instead of actually helping any customers understand what's going on.)

Xbox One selection quiz help me choose Blu-ray DVD movies
I only figured out the the One in Xbox One meant all-in-one entertainment system...this week.
That explains the lack of an “I only plan to use the gaming console for games” option. Because the Xbox One family are not gaming consoles.

As for the Xbox Series X, details are still lacking, but we do know it's very powerful. It's hard to really grasp how much power it has, since consoles have been focusing on continual power-creep for the past decade. From what I can tell, it's a huge deal that it has a Solid State Drive (SSD), which can dramatically reduce loading times similar to if your PC has one. ...Mine does not, because I need the extra storage space of a hard disk drive more than I need the quick loading.

We'll have to wait, most likely, for E3 2020 to get a better grasp of what's going on. In the meantime, it's also unclear if Microsoft's naming scheme simplifies their web of Xbox family identities, or it just adds to the confusion. PlayStation 1, 2, 3, 4, and now 5 at least are pretty straightforward. 


By the end of the article, it's pretty clear that Ludwig still doesn't know how to differentiate between the different Xbox One models. Ludwig wonders if the Xbox Series X isn't a Mega Man X reference, but a Mega Man ZX reference, with all the different Biometals. There's Model X. Next might be Model Z. Then they might merge to Model ZX. Who knows. What do you know? Comment!

5 comments :

  1. So many Xboxes, I can't tell the differences between them. We already have an Xbox in the house, the Leappad my daughter for some reason calls an Xbox, I think this Xbox is more than enough, just how much different can the newest Xbox be to it anyway?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, at least this thing is a box. Leappad ain't a box.

      It'll be up to Microsoft to figure out how to communicate how different the Xbox 2020 is to the Xbox 2001. Perhaps they'll do a better job vs. the Wii to the Wii U.

      Delete
  2. In a GameStop in the not-so-distant future:

    "Hello, sir. Do you have any new Xboxes in stock?"
    "We sure do, ma'am. Are you interested in a new Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, or Xbox Series X?"
    "My son only told me that it's the one that ends with an X."
    "Okay, then that leaves you with the Xbox, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X."
    "...You know, now that I think about it, Jimmy only plays Fortnite 99% of the time anyway. I think he will live just fine without the latest edition."
    "Oh, so you were interested in buying the newest edition. Why didn't you just say so from the beginning? In that case, the Xbox Series X is what you were looking for. However, since you seem to have made up your mind and no longer want one, then can I at least interest you in our new PowerUp Rewards membership program?"
    "No thanks, I'm good."
    "Alright. Have a nice day."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a tongue twister in this whole situation there somewhere as well, but darned if I can suss it out.

      Delete
    2. I'd think the GameStop clerks would've figured out how to handle this after the New 3DS fiasco!

      Delete

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