Written by Eric Ippolito Sunday, 10 July 2011 14:00
Why are names so important? Certainly one's reputation defines a person, but in some cultures, their name and reputation is synonymous—that is, "living up to their name." Plus, without a name or title, many people would only have looks to go off of. But I'm not going to be talking about people today, I'm talking about naming video game consoles. In the past, there have been some regular names, some terrible names and some pretty good ones. Good names, along with good reputations of consoles make those unknown consoles into brand names. Take Sony's Playstation, for example: an original name that defines an overarching experience for the players.
Other examples of good names are Sega's Dreamcast, Nintendo's Super Nintendo and Game Boy. The Super NES was a good name because it helped describe to consumers that it was as much fun as the regular NES, but this time it had a cape so-to-speak, or was just that much better.
The world groaned when the Wii's name was announced, and it moaned when the Wii U, which I like to call the p-ew, was announced. Now I'll admit, the Wii makes a lot of sense, but it, along with Nintendo's business model for the console, isolated a major group of gamers right off the bat. Many hardcore gamers knew it wasn't made for them once they heard the name. Furthermore, the Wii U's name tends to make gamers feel like it's not that great of a leap ahead, it's not a Super Wii. But then again, these are just names, not reputation.
So what about the naming of next generation consoles? Well, from time to time I hear a lot of people talking about the next generation Xbox, everyone knows it's coming eventually. But the problem is what everyone refers to it as: the Xbox 720. One might hastily assume that this name insinuates the doubling of the Xbox 360's power—a "super Xbox" you might say. However, where the Xbox 360's name isn't entirely creative, it does somewhat describe Microsoft's point about trying to create an encompassing experience for the player. Or at least, that's what the 360 has turned into, a virtual hub of online entertainment that spans games, movies, social networking and more.
Despite this, however, calling Microsoft's next console the "720" does not appeal to me. "Well, Game Whisperer, you're just being mean-spirited." Well, the truth is this: if the Xbox has "360 degrees of movement," 720 is the obvious doubling of that. But does does that make it any better? Where the Xbox2 might make some bit of sense in saying it's a more robust experience in every way, the 720 just makes it sound like a children's song where you spin around a few times. It's like dividing by zero, it doesn't make sense and it isn't inspiring or creative at all.
Essentially, a good name doesn't just "feel right," or sound nice, though those are important distinguishing factors—a good name also describes the console. Look at other titles, the Nintendo 64 had its 64-bit graphics, (though some may refute the reason behind this name). The Sega CD (Mega-CD) was an add-on console that played CDs. The list continues. Now I'm not saying that these are the most inspiring names, I'm saying they made sense. What I'm encouraging is to marry both sensical and inspirationally creative names!
I'm sure many people like the 720 name, or others just accept it for lack of a better title, however, one thing to consider is Microsoft's aim for their next console. It probably isn't going to have twice the amount of visual graphics (though the specs may very well be doubled) or be twice the quality in every other way. Instead, it's very likely that Microsoft will buff up their new system while incorporating the Kinect, or next version thereof, along with other unique features. With this in mind, it'd be great to see an Xbox: [enter title that describes something entirely fresh and new!]. The same thing goes with the Playstation 4, perhaps Sony should break the number cycle and give us another Vita-type title.
But is a name really all that important? Well, you tell me.