July 9, 2013 at 5:42 PM ET
Before Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox One, the Internet was awash in speculation about the thing's name. Was it going to be the "Xbox 720?" Maybe just plain old "Xbox?" Or, God forbid, "Xbox Infinity?" Those are all well and good, but how about something like the "FACE 3?"
"FACE" (short for "Full Action Center," err, 3) is just one of the colorful monikers that very well could have been the name of Microsoft's upcoming next-generation video game device if some of the company's branding team had had their way. It could have just as easily been called — no joke — "MIND," an acryonym for "Microsoft Interactive Network Device." That's according to the video game magazine Edge, which recently compiled a list of the many other names for the Xbox that Microsoft's gaming team tossed around and eventually scrapped. Xbox may sound like a funny name in its own right, seeing how it originated as a contraction of the phrase "DirectX Box," a reference to the company's computer graphics software DirectX. But after scanning Microsoft's list, I have to admit that I'm glad the team decided to stick with it. You should really take a look at the full list, but here are some of our favorite highlights from what could have been:
O2 (Optimal Ozone or Optical Odyssey). Just imagine the horrible marketing campaign about how gamers need "Halo" and "Gears of War" almost as badly as they need oxygen.
MARZ (Microsoft Active Reality Zone). It's like a cross between that TV network and the red planet! I think it's fair to say that nothing that ever wants to be taken seriously should end with a stylized "Z."
EHQ (Entertainment Headquarters). It's almost like that video game company — you know, THQ (Toy Headquarters), except hopefully without the rapid-fire changes in management and unceremonious decline into bankruptcy. Team Xbox must have been relieved they threw this one in the trash after THQ finally filed for Chapter 11 protection last year.
VIP (Virtual Interactive Player). On the plus side, I guess this one would have let "Call of Duty" bros rebrand their man caves as "VIP lounges."
MAX (Microsoft Action Experience). The original Xbox was first released in 2001, so I'm guessing someone at the upper echelon's of Microsoft's gaming operation must have seen the classic 1999 Simpsons episode "Homer to the Max" to help come up with this gem. I imagine someone in the boardroom that day saying: "There are three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way and the Microsoft Action Experience way!" Isn't that just the wrong way? "Yes, but faster!"
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: email@example.com.