Microsoft almost went with 'Xbox 3' instead of 'Xbox 360' for its sophomore console

The fact that Microsoft was one console generation behind Sony's PlayStation hardware informed the decision.


Console manufacturers choose some oddball names for their hardware. Nintendo Wii, Sega Dreamcast, Microsoft Xbox. Only in hindsight do these names become normal to our eyes and ears. Manufacturers put a lot of thought into names, though, and christening the successor to Microsoft's original Xbox received more thought than most.

In a recent interview with IGN (via GameSpot), ex-chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach admitted that Microsoft toyed with the notion of branding its second console "Xbox 3."

What? No Xbox 2?

It makes sense when you think about it. Microsoft threw its hat into the console arena one generation after PlayStation 2. Knowing that its second platform would be going head to head against Sony's PS3, no one from the Xbox division wanted consumers to get the idea that their platform was somehow inferior or behind the curve just because it had a "2" in the title.

"Certainly Xbox 3 was actually on the list because, well, you've gotta catch up," Bach said. "You don't want to be Xbox 2 compared to PlayStation 3. We actually talked about that... You don't want to feel like you're a generation behind, so why not skip?"

Bach pointed out that jumping from Xbox 1 straight to 3 didn't seem like a big deal at the time. After all, Microsoft has a history of nonlinear naming conventions: Microsoft 3.1 to Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98 to ME, Windows 8 to Windows 10—a decision stemming from concerns that older programs would malfunction due to legacy code running checks for text strings beginning with "Windows 9"—and of course, Xbox One.

Ultimately, Microsoft decided to go with Xbox 360. Bach and the others made the right call. Microsoft positioned the Xbox 360 as games console as well as an all-around media center for the living room, and still managed to get "3" in the branding. Win-win.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

Filed Under
From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola