By several metrics, the Xbox 360 is
the most successful console so far of this generation. Despite the startling
pace of the Wii, the Xbox 360 still has the most consoles sold worldwide and
the longest list of games and exclusives. For a gamer looking for online-enabled
high-definition gaming today, the Xbox 360 appears to satisfy those needs.
One often overlooked factor when
considering a console purchase is reliability, an area that is
apparently where the Xbox 360 falls short. Anecdotal evidence is heavily pointing
to Microsoft’s latest console as being significantly more prone to failure than
what consumers are accustomed to.
Microsoft has said before that its
Xbox 360 failure rate falls within three to five percent, what it believes to
be well within industry standards. Internet reports from Xbox 360 owners,
however, suggest that the failure rate is much higher than that.
In an effort to gain a more accurate
picture of Xbox 360 failure rate, DailyTech decided to poll retail
outlets that sell the Xbox 360 and with it the option to purchase an in-store
extended warranty. Out of all Xbox 360 extended warranties sold, we wanted to
know how many were claimed by consumers with defective consoles, thus giving us
a more accurate failures percentage.
After contacting several retailers from various regions in North America, the responses were
unanimous: the Xbox 360 is the least reliable gaming console in recent history.
Current EB Games or GameStop employees who offered information did so under
strict anonymity, as it is against company policy to reveal such information to
the public. Furthermore, our sources confirmed that EB Games revised its
Canadian warranty policies during early 2007 for consoles solely due to the
failure rate of the Xbox 360.
EB Games held conference calls for
its Canadian stores informing them of the new policy changes and revealing
alarming failure rates of the Xbox 360. “The real numbers were between 30 to 33
percent,” said former EB Games employee Matthieu G., adding that failure rate
was even greater for launch consoles. “We had 35 Xbox 360s at launch I know
more than half of them broke within the first six months (red lights or making
circles under the game discs). Two of them were dead on arrival.”
Interestingly, Microsoft has
acknowledged that the initial batch of Xbox 360 consoles made during the launch
window suffer from below average reliability. In response to an overwhelming
defect rate of launch consoles, Microsoft agreed to repair all machines manufactured in
2005 free of charge, and issue a refund for those who already paid for repairs
of launch units up until January 1, 2006.
The three flashing red lights – commonly
referred to in gaming communities as the “Red Ring of Death” – is a sign of an
Xbox 360 hardware failure. The sign is apparently common enough that Microsoft
has added an option to its 1-800-4MY-XBOX support line that names “three
flashing red lights” specifically.
As a result of the high failure rate
of the Xbox 360, EB Games corporate nearly doubled the prices of its one-year,
over-the-counter warranty. While the previous warranty would give a customer a
brand new console in exchange for the broken one, the new policy now states
that the customer will receive a refurbished console instead. The move was made
because it was becoming too costly for the retailer to give the customer a
brand-new machine, which still carries a store cost close to the MSRP. The
price increase and policy change wasn’t exclusive to only the Xbox 360,
however, as it also applies to all other Sony and Nintendo consoles sold.
The failure rate nearing a third of
all Xbox 360 consoles was found at other retailers too. A Best Buy customer
service department manager, who wished to remain unnamed, said that failure
rates for the console were “between a quarter to a third” of all units sold.
“We see a ton of [Xbox 360s] come
back all the time. We strongly push our customers to buy our service plans no
matter what they buy, but it is especially important for them with the Xbox
360,” said the manager. “It’s a lucky thing for us that Microsoft extended the
factory warranty to one year, because we were having a hell of a time dealing
with the launch units. Now we don’t have to deal with those broken [Xbox 360s]
until their second year, for those who have purchased the two year plans.”
In late 2006, Microsoft boosted the
warranty of all Xbox 360 consoles to
one year, up from 90-days previously. For gamers who are out of
warranty, however, a replacement or repair will cost Xbox 360 customers $140.
When compared against other systems,
the Xbox 360 is failing at higher rates than its current competitors and
predecessors. Former EB Games worker Matthieu G. said that the failure rates
for all other consoles were not high enough for the retailer to consider
revising its policies, and guesses that most other console systems
have a failure rate of less than one percent, including the PlayStation 3.
Another EB Games manager, when asked if the store warranty was worth it,
conceded that in the hundreds of Wii units sold at that location thus far, zero
have come back as defective.
Despite the overwhelming evidence
that the Xbox 360 is a relatively unreliable games machine, Microsoft officials
refuse to comment on its failure rate. Peter Moore, VP of Microsoft’s
entertainment division, said to the Mercury News, “I can’t comment
on failure rates, because it’s just not something – it’s a moving
target. What this consumer should worry about is the way that we’ve treated
him. Y’know, things break, and if we’ve treated him well and fixed his
problem, that’s something that we’re focused on right now. I’m not going to
comment on individual failure rates because I’m shipping in 36 countries and
it’s a complex business.”
Similar questions regarding the Xbox
360 hardware met with the man responsible for the design of the console, Todd
Holmdahl. He too sidestepped the issue with the Mercury News,
saying, “I would say we don’t have a high defect rate. The vast majority of
people are really excited about their product, and that we are targeting
profitability for next year.”
Asked differently about whether or
not the Xbox 360 falls into the ‘normal’ three to five percent return rate,
Holmdahl said, “We don’t disclose the actual number,” and “We don’t comment on
No piece of technology, no matter
how well designed, should be expected to completely free of failure. The key
metric is whether or not a product falls within industry standards of
acceptable failure rates – and from findings based off retailer-supported
warranty returns, the actual rate of failures could be six to ten times greater
than what Microsoft is letting on.
Regardless of what the actual
failure rate is, there is consumer perception that the Xbox 360 is a less
reliable machine than its competitors. That fact alone should encourage
Microsoft to do more than just avoid all comments on failures and only preach
on the wonderful experience of its consumer base.
quote: You say it's got tons of consoles out there so more should broke. It's relative estimate. One third of all.
quote: 360s were around for longer and so there is a higher chance of failure
quote: a 33 percent failure rate is unacceptable for any product.
quote: more than half of them broke within the first six months (red lights or making circles under the game discs).
quote: Given that the "making circles on discs" is a user-inflicted scenario (moving the unit while running) I'm not sure that including those numbers is at all accurate when trying to determine the "failure rate" of the 360. We also don't know how many returns are really defects versus consumer complaining over other mishandlings.
quote: A sales associate can convince a buyer to purchase the extended warranty by telling the costumer that Xbox 360s have a high chance of failure. The customer will be like "oh yeah I've heard that before. Sure I'll buy the extended warranty."
quote: One important thing that you have not noted was when the devices fail on average. This is an important factor. Do most fail within the first month? ... Most electronics fail either very quickly (first month or two) or when they are rather old... If they fail early they are undoubtedly under the manufacturer's warranty. If they don't then they are most likely to last well past the retailer's warranty.
quote: I personally know 10 different people with XBOX 360 consoles. Out of those 10 there have been 2 bad units.Is 2 out of 10 too high a defect ratio? Yes, definitely. But is it as bad as what some folks are claiming? No.
quote: I just wanted to be the voice of reason.
quote: Microsoft cited “an unacceptable number of repairs to Xbox 360 consoles” for the move. Xbox 360 customers who experience general hardware failure indicated by three flashing red lights will now be covered by a three-year warranty , the company said.
quote: Microsoft also will reimburse the “small number” of Xbox 360 owners who have paid for shipping and repairs on out-of-warranty consoles, Bach said.
quote: This is extremely impressive considering that the PS3 is the most advanced videogame console system of all-time.
quote: In most legal systems the courts give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant. In criminal law, he or she is presumed innocent until the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; whereas in civil law, he or she is presumed innocent until the plaintiff can show liability on a balance of probabilities. However, the common law of libel contains a kind of reverse-onus feature: a defamatory statement is presumed to be false unless the defendant can prove its truth. Furthermore, to collect compensatory damages, a public official or public figure must prove actual malice (knowing falsity or reckless disregard for the truth)
quote: Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries.This is because the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives strong protection to freedom of expression, which arose from the tradition of dissent in the American Revolution. For most of the history of the United States, constitutional protections of freedom of speech had no impact on the traditional common law of defamation inherited from the English legal system. This changed with the landmark 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, in which the Supreme Court of the United States announced constitutional restrictions to state defamation law. The court held that where a public official was defamed, the plaintiff had to prove not just that an untruthful statement was made, but also that it was made with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth. The "actual malice" standard was subsequently extended to public figures in general, and even to private figure plaintiffs seeking punitive or presumptive damages.
quote: Im just an average 28 yr old who is getting tired of complaining about each product out there. We know they have problems, we've known this for a long time. For all those who bought 1st gen systems, well you should have known what you were getting before hand. We dont buy 1st gen electronics in anything and not expect problems.
quote: ...and use of x86 when we should have abandoned it long ago.
quote: I disagree. While the X-Box 360 is more powerful for the money, you can buy an equivelant PC for about $200 more, self-built mind you, and have a much more versatile experience
quote: With that you can "easily plug it into the TV and play" via the S-Video/component out. You can also edit music/vdeos/pictures, run a wide variety of games, use heavy-footprint office-suites, and the list goes on.
quote: Essentially, aside from multiple players on one "unit", there is nothing a console can do that a PC cannot.
quote: P.S. I don't know if the 360 does HD/Blu-Ray discs like the PS3, but if it does then that is one thing my "equivelant PC" could not do.
quote: Just like I said, except without the caveat that in 5 years XBox360/PS3/Wii will still play the latest games made for their respective platforms. Find me a 5 year old PC that will run a game made in 2007. It'll cost at least $200-300 to bring it up to minimum standards, coming out to just about double the cost of a console for the use period (just as I said.)
quote: Just like I said, except without the caveat that in 5 years XBox360/PS3/Wii will still play the latest games made for their respective platforms. Find me a 5 year old PC that will run a game made in 2007.
quote: So, in summary, I sincerely doubt that you could build a PC at a price $200 greater than that of the XBox 360 and be able to play games of comparable graphical quality.
quote: I sincerely doubt that you could build a PC at a price $200 greater than that of the XBox 360 and be able to play games of comparable graphical quality.
quote: I'm an avid PC gamer, and I have to say that your comments are completely unrealistic. At 7300 for a gaming machine? You'd be lucky to play year or two old titles on that. The fact is that if you have a console's price worth of money, you can't build a PC that can play the same quality games - and do it for the next 5 years. You also can't easily plug it into your TV, pop a disc in, and just play (though it's much closer to that now than it was 2 years ago.)If you want to spend money on a machine that is only for games, buy a console. If you want the best experience and highest quality graphics, get a PC - but it'll cost you at least twice as much over the life of a console. Now if you want a PC to do other stuff, that has to be factored in as well. You're then only comparing the cost of making your Internet & email PC into something that can play games. This brings the cost closer, but only to about the point where it breaks even.At this point really comes down to the games you want to play. I prefer to play sports or racing games on a console, while I play shooters or RTS games on a PC. quote:
quote: I heavily disagree with you, take $1000 and you may end up with a PC that can display graphics close to that of the 360 at $400.
quote: And console gaming doesn't require a $600 video card every 2 years.
quote: and you don't have to worry about the bastard crashing constantly especially if you have that piece of garbage VISTA!
quote: err how in the world is PC Gaming better, no standard control scheme, NUTZO!
quote: no one wants to take their Standard machines and shell out $500 for a video card for their $500 PC. You end up loosing a ton of HDD space, clogging your registry and you have to worry about FPS all the time cause it NEVER STAYS FIXED!
quote: Regardless of what the actual failure rate is, there is consumer perception that the Xbox 360 is a less reliable machine than its competitors. That fact alone should encourage Microsoft to do more than just avoid all comments on failures and only preach on the wonderful experience of its consumer base.
quote: Example-I go back 10 years-people preferred to buy a TV manufactured in Japan & not in China for quality reason & longer lasting products
quote: that's only if there was any consumer electronics made in America. But since there isn't..........
quote: How may times have you ordered food at a fast food place, only to have your simple order wrong?
quote: Not only electronics/computer components etc even basic stuff like Toys BREAK UP EASILY.
quote: Summary- Americans make it better than the countries you mentioned.
quote: Our attitudes to business/commerce/manufacturing & quality control/ethics etc are developed & at a higher level.
quote: As an electrical engineer, I can tell you that it is not where it is made, but the attitude of the company in charge of engineering, manufacturing and the final inspection that determines the quality.