In an abrupt shift from its current branding strategy, Microsoft is renaming Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios.
“We are changing the name of our game development organization from Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios,” Microsoft corporate vice president Matt Booty writes. “Xbox Game Studios is made up of 13 distinct game development teams responsible for beloved franchises like Age of Empires, Forza, Gears of War, Halo, and Minecraft.
As you may know, Microsoft, like other tech giants, has undergone a years-long effort to deemphasize product brands like Windows and Office in favor of its corporate brand. For example, Windows Azure was renamed to Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft 365 is supplanting Office 365.
But this is a shift in the opposite direction, and most likely indicates that Microsoft understands that its corporate name is, if not toxic in the gaming world, is at least less well-known and beloved than Xbox. And this change will help it market a new Xbox that is heterogeneous, thanks largely to online services like xCloud, and not just focused on its own (Windows and Xbox One) platforms.
“Today, Xbox is our gaming brand across all devices, no matter how or where you want to play, or who you want to play with,” Booty verifies. “We’re passionate about building a portfolio of games for players across console, PC and mobile. [And] as we’ve expanded our focus beyond the console, the Xbox brand has also evolved from its original roots.”
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with the new brand. But this kind of inconsistency is curious and seems to be somewhat unique in Microsoft’s stable of offerings. It makes me wonder, again, about the weird separation between Xbox and the rest of the company.