One of the topics I’ve pondered for a very long time has been naming conventions in gaming and other forms of media. There are good examples, bad examples, and all sorts of mediocre examples (usually sequelitis) from large and small companies who all are doing their best to make smart business decisions which will draw in consumers.
Lets start out with one of the “NEW”est bad examples out there:
The Nintendo 3DS has been out since 2011. The name makes sense, you have a DS similar to the previous generations of the handheld (DS presumably standing for “dual screen”). Then came the DS Lite, a much smaller, lighter version of the same handheld. Next came the DSi which had an “eye-like” camera. This time with the 3DS you have 3D as well! The naming conventions were straightforward and represented each iteration in a way that separated it from the rest of the line.
However, with Nintendo’s newest iteration of the 3DS, all I can think of is this scene from Scott Pilgrim:
The “New” Nintendo 3DS isn’t as bad a name as you might think at first… if you’re Japanese. The truth is in Japan, the adjective “new” is 新しい (atarashii). So when they use the word “New” it’s a fancy title using English. In western countries however, where we actually use the word new, you start seeing confusion.
They actually needed to make commercials to help consumers understand how this console is different than the old ones. I mean… I HAVE one of the New 3DS XL’s (the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate one) and they’re super cool. Better processing power. Better 3D visuals. Analogue C-Stick and extra trigger buttons. None of those features are really made evident in the title of the console though.
It’s reminiscent of the Wii U often being confused for a Wii accessory instead of a new console, or the Xbox One being confused for the original Xbox.
Now that’s not to say I’m fond of Playstation’s way of naming new consoles. Playstation 1, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Playstation 4… it’s not a particularly descriptive name for a console. The benefit is it does still help the consumer differentiate between each iteration in a way that makes sense regardless of language. Valve Software does this with a lot of their games, though they haven’t released any games with a number past “2”.
What is the moral of this story? Be wary of your naming conventions. This is true for programmers where a single typo could