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The Real Reason Xbox's Logo Is Green

In more than twenty years since its original iteration, the Xbox has gone through some tumultuous transformations. It started out as an underrated console and carried this reputation to the Xbox 360 before turning into one of Microsoft biggest missteps with the Xbox One. The more recent Series X|S might be doing much better, with a positive critical reception, but has still suffered from being outpaced by the Playstation in some major ways.

Throughout the myriad ups and downs of the console's fortunes, the one thing that's never changed for the Xbox is its signature electric green. The origin story that Microsoft ran with during the Xbox's launch in 2001 was that Horace Luke, one of the lead designers, only had a green marker in his bag when the logo was being discussed (per Microsoft). On a 2015 podcast segment with IGN, Xbox creator Seamus Blackley elaborates on this a bit more — apparently, the reason a supposed professional creative only had one marker color on him at the time was because the rest of the pack had been stolen by his colleagues.

The color chose itself

As Blackley tells it, the story of the Xbox signature green came down to coincidence — and a bit of unscrupulous office culture. Horace Luke brought an "awesome" set of markers during the development of the Xbox. So nice, in fact, that all of them were promptly stolen by the rest of the office, leaving him with only the color green when the team started brainstorming logo ideas.

However, it seems Luke doesn't begrudge his colleagues for the near-total theft of his markers — rather, he seems to be of the opinion that it was meant to be. In a 2001 Microsoft News article, he describes it as the "perfect color" to present his early design proofs in. The shade of green ended up sticking as the official logo color because, according to Luke, the development team just "knew it was right" upon laying eyes on the drawings.

Fun fact or marketing hoax?

The details from the IGN podcast made its rounds through publications and online threads at the time of publishing, garnering quite a bit of skepticism from the internet community. Many redditors accused the story of being a revised hoax, citing that it was the only logical design choice: Microsoft's main rivals were using red and blue respectively, leaving only green in the RGB color model. The problem with this assertion, however, is that Nintendo only started their re-branding to red in the latter half of 2015 (via Destructoid), while Sony has gone through a more gradual transformation into the "blue console brand" that was only fully embraced with the release of the PlayStation 4 (as noted by users on Resetera). In contrast, Xbox was branded a solid green from its very inception — from a purely chronological point of view, it seems that Nintendo and Sony's color claims were influenced by Microsoft instead of vice versa.

Being such a minor detail that isn't very consequential to begin with, it's likely that no one will ever be able to confirm if the anecdote is true. But whether it's a fun fact or a constructed piece of marketing fluff, one thing is for sure: for a whole pack of markers to be stolen like that, the early Xbox development office must have had a downright brutal stationery economy.