In an attempt to ensure that Microsoft’s Xbox is easily differentiated from the Switch, the company once attempted to make a shift in terminology when it comes to what constitutes a “console” — because that couldn’t possibly lead to confusion, right?
In a 2019 email from Xbox’s head of marketing, Aaron Greenberg (and shared to Twitter by Kotaku’s @ethangach), we can see that there was a time in which Microsoft was keen to present the Nintendo Switch not as a “console”, but rather as a “portable gaming device”. This all spawned from Ori and the Blind Forest leaving its Xbox exclusivity and making its way over to the Nintendo console, with Microsoft, obviously, looking for a way to spin it so that its system could still appear favourable.
It’s a marketing tactic that we have seen many times over from video game companies where even the most minute word choice is the difference between acknowledging the competition and convincing the audience that your product is the real deal. There’s no attack on the Switch here, just some comical business hair-splitting to make sure that Microsoft doesn’t send the wrong message.
VP of Xbox marketing says Switch is NOT a gaming console. pic.twitter.com/jjvX5jn055— AmericanTruckSongs9 (@ethangach) September 18, 2023
And let’s not pretend that Nintendo is innocent of this kind of this either. Whether it’s a hilariously long title like the recently-announced (deep breath) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 6 or the insistence on using full game and console names in promotional material (“I gotta get back to playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on my Nintendo 3DS” — never forget), Nintendo is just as prone to tying itself in terminological knots as anyone else. Ah, the wonderful world of marketing…
We love our Switches and our Xboxes, they’re both lovely little consoles — or, as we will now insist on calling them, “portable/non-portable gaming devices”…
What have been your favourite marketing terminology twisters? Let us know in the comments.