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Xbox 360 failures are on the rise since the launch of the New Xbox Experience

A known Xbox 360 hardware issue is beginning to surface in significant numbers recently based on research conducted by video game site Joystiq. Tentatively called the Xbox 360 E74 error, one of the lights on the “Ring of Lights” on the front of your Xbox 360 console flashes red and you receive the error code and message: "E74. System Error. Contact Xbox Customer Support". The symptoms involve the bottom right portion of the indicator ring repeatedly flashing on and off and lines or snow will become visible across the screen.

According to the initial Joystiq article posted on March 13, the Microsoft representative Joystiq contacted told them she wasn't familiar with the problem and that they were looking in to the issue. The E74 error is a known issue that is recognized by Microsoft and is documented on Microsoft’s own support site complete with diagrams. The support site has a last revised time stamp of March 3, 2009 as of this writing, predating the Joystiq article that broke the story.

Microsoft’s support site provides no explanation for the error other than to state, “This behavior occurs when the Xbox 360 console experiences a hardware failure.” Joystiq theorizes the E74 error is related to a hardware video problem where the ANA/HANA scaling chip on Xbox 360s equipped with HDMI functionality has come loose.

The main theory put forward that tries to explain why this particular hardware issue is being seen more frequently is the increased graphical stress caused by the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. The New Xbox Experience was launched on November 19 and provided Xbox Live users with a complete rework of the user interface.

One of the significant changes introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the removal of the blade interface. The blades allowed users to access pages of information and features quickly due to the fact they are stacked on top of each other. The new interface uses full windows to spread out the screen.

Another significant change introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the implementation of a graphical avatar system. Users are allowed to choose their avatar from a large group; each avatar is dressed differently, has a unique hair style, and skin color. Once you have chosen your avatar, you are allowed to customize it with new clothing, accessories, and hair. The stress caused by these visual changes may be what is taking many Xbox 360s to the breaking point for unlucky customers.

An interesting pattern can be seen on a Google Trends chart that shows a noticeable spike in users researching the E74 error in November 2008 right around the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

Joystiq’s analysis of survey respondents show a similar pattern of increased E74 failures starting in November of last year. A conspiracy theory making the rounds speculates Microsoft may have changed the system diagnostics test to report Red Ring of Death error as E74 instead to save money. For errors reported as E74, it would force customers to pay $100 for the repair if the error occurs later than 12 months after purchase. The E74 error is not covered under the 3-year extended warranty set in place for the Red Ring of Death malfunction. Joystiq points out that this theory is unlikely because survey respondents are still reporting Red Ring of Death errors after the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

On March 19, Joystiq posted Microsoft’s official response to the E74 issue where they stated:

E74 is a general hardware error on Xbox 360 indicated by a single red flashing light in the Xbox Ring of Light and an error message visible on the television. This error is unrelated to the three flashing red lights error and there is not a single root cause. We encourage anyone who receives this error to contact Xbox Customer support through www.xbox.com/support or 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles continue to have a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out.

As pointed out by Joystiq, Microsoft’s response fails to adequately answer what causes the E74 error, if there has been an increase in incidents, and why it is not covered while the Red Ring of Death is. The evidence is mounting as Joystiq has posted an update on March 23 showing E74 errors have definitely increased since the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. It remains to be seen how long it takes Microsoft to acknowledge there is an issue and deal with in a way that satisfies their current customers. As past history shows an adequate response may take time.

Microsoft’s top game executive, Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices group, said at a dinner in July 2008 that Microsoft’s own research shows that gamers have largely forgiven the company for defective Xbox 360s. Depending on how this issue is handled current customers may not be so quick to forgive.



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RE: Microsoft needs to get out of Console business
By Belard on 3/25/2009 10:08:07 AM , Rating: 3
HUH?! Sandok says:
quote:
- They were the first to enter the console race and, compared to Sony, are winning the battle with a higher attach rate, more consoles sold, etc.


MS by-passed QC checks to get the xbox360 to market for the christmas season. Good tactic, but it HURT MS with the 33% failure-rates... and low cost hardware of noisy drives. SONY arrived late, due to blue-ray development being behind... but the PS3 helped SONY win the HD-media format war. So in that regards, Sony is "even" somewhat... check out the Blu-Ray section of a store, its bigger than xbox.

And the "attach" rate of the 360 over the PS3 has always been about the same, a year difference of 7~8million consoles. If SONY was 6 months earlier or the 360 was 6 months later(ever worse), they'd be head to head at best.

But, with the HIGH failure rate of 360s, how many of the 29million user base have bought replacement units or MS has sent out replacement units and counted them as "sales"? MS still counts PCs with XP-installed over vista, a "vista sell". 33% of 24million (before the falcon 360) is a failure of about 8 million units! And we see POSTS from 360 users re-buying a 360s with "HDMI", then with upgraded CPU and GPUs... I wonder how many USED 360s are sitting in stores compared to PS3s. We don't see PS3 owners re-buying their consoles... I've set to see a post "I'm buying a revised PS3" here or anywhere!

quote:
Microsoft was able to undercut the PS3 by a significant amount


MS lowered their prices to compete with the PS3. The 360 premo used to be $400. When the elite came out, it was about $450 originally and the Premo went down to about $350. But in reality, the PS3 was actually cheaper for the consumer in the end... always and still is today.

The $500 20GB PS3 was still full featured. To upgrade the standard Xbox360 ($400 360 +$200 for HD-DVD player, $ 100 for wireless network = $700.) And then add the costs of time and money to call MS, get an RMA - ship the unit or buy an extended warranty and/or cooling system.

The next Xbox should be a better design... but sometimes companies don't learn from their stupidity and greed.

While MS has created a different sort of competition for the consoles... it means SONY and Nintendo have to keep on their toes more. ;)


By omnicronx on 3/25/2009 11:49:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And the "attach" rate of the 360 over the PS3 has always been about the same, a year difference of 7~8million consoles. If SONY was 6 months earlier or the 360 was 6 months later(ever worse), they'd be head to head at best.
These variables are already taken into account, which is why when you look around the net you will see a high number for the 360 and a lower number. The higher number is from release, the lower number is compared to the wii/ps3 release date i.e 1 year less sales. Both numbers are higher than the PS3 by a fair margin. Furthermore the difference in consoles sold has absolutely nothing to do with attach rate, it is calculated based on ratios. (i.e total software sales / consoles sold).

They are not head to head, in fact the PS3 is at the bottom of the rankings by a fair margin.
quote:
But, with the HIGH failure rate of 360s, how many of the 29million user base have bought replacement units or MS has sent out replacement units and counted them as "sales"?
Nope they are not counted, the estimated stats you see on sites like VGTchartz etc are based on retail sales. These are not MS released stats.
quote:
But in reality, the PS3 was actually cheaper for the consumer in the end... always and still is today.
In whose reality, yours? Not everyone is going to get wireless, an HD, or an HD-DVD player. In 'reality' the 360 is cheaper by a fair margin the PS3, accessories are irrelevant when it comes to the bottom line. When it comes down to it you can walk out of a store with a working 360 for 200 dollars, its up to the buyer whether or not they want to invest in other upgrades, but in no way or form can you say that everyone is going to do so, or that everyone is looking for features such as BD playback or wireless. Most people buy a console to play games, you (and Sony) seem to be forgetting this.

Most people don't need wireless or a BD player to do this, an HD perhaps, but you can get a referb online for under 50 bucks. Don't get me wrong, I own a PS3, but I am not going to try and justify my purchase by saying its 'cheaper' than the 360. It just happened to fit my needs, that why I bought it.


By nmyron on 3/25/2009 1:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In whose reality, yours? Not everyone is going to get wireless, an HD, or an HD-DVD player. In 'reality' the 360 is cheaper by a fair margin the PS3, accessories are irrelevant when it comes to the bottom line. When it comes down to it you can walk out of a store with a working 360 for 200 dollars, its up to the buyer whether or not they want to invest in other upgrades, but in no way or form can you say that everyone is going to do so, or that everyone is looking for features such as BD playback or wireless. Most people buy a console to play games, you (and Sony) seem to be forgetting this.


How many XBOX users don't play online games... I would have to estimate that this is a very, very low percentage, as online gaming is quite the reason that people purchase consoles these days, that, and the quality of games, and etc, etc... The fact of the matter is, the PS3 is more feature rich out of the box, meaning the average consumer can purchase one item, and get every possible interesting feature they may need for a console.

quote:
Most people don't need wireless or a BD player to do this, an HD perhaps, but you can get a referb online for under 50 bucks. Don't get me wrong, I own a PS3, but I am not going to try and justify my purchase by saying its 'cheaper' than the 360. It just happened to fit my needs, that why I bought it.


You talk about getting a refurb drive online for 50 bucks, thats cool, what is it, a 120 GB these days? I just slapped a 500 GB WD Notebook HDD from NewEgg into my PS3 for 99.99... Not to mention that I bought this console as a factory refurb in 2007, it's a 60GB.

So all in all, I bought the console for $350, the HDD for $100, so I spent $450 + tax, and got a premium game system, with BluRay player, media streaming abilities, Wireless internet, and a 500GB storage capacity. Being as that most users purchase their XBOX's, then option them up, the PS3 is definately a better deal. As far as HD video goes, I hope you didn't buy the HD-DVD player... I can't even find HD-DVD's on the shelves anymore... But I have quite a collection of BluRays, and didn't have to go out and shell an additional $500-$700 for a new BluRay player ;)


RE: Microsoft needs to get out of Console business
By Sandok on 3/25/2009 11:50:55 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft did rush the Xbox360 to the market, I totally agree but when it comes to being a GAME CONSOLE (which is what we're talking about here), it helped them edge out Sony.

Yes, IF Sony had launched their console before it might be the 360 in third place but guess what, they didn't. Microsoft weighed the pros and cons of shipping the console early and it helped them secure a better market position than Sony. IFs and BUTs don't help the actual subject and this is what I am talking about, given that they were the FIRST to enter the race, they were able to beat Sony at their own game.

And since we're talking SKUs (HDMI and whatnot), how many PS3 people post (yes they do... browse around) about buying a 80GB or a 60GB or a 40GB and trading in various different forms of the console to have REAL backwards compatibility or emulated backwards compatibilty or... none at all. Anyways, this is a tiny fraction of the market and I doubt its as big as you make it out to be.

And no, the PS3 is not cheaper and never was cheaper and never will be cheaper. Who says you NEED to buy the HDVD addon, the WiFi addon, the Cam addon, the HDD addon, the Remote addon, etc. If you want to play games, then the cheapest in between the PS3 and 360, out of the box was the 360 and always has been.

Yes, some people might want BR and such and if they did, they would buy a PS3 but those who didn't... the vaste majority... just wanted to play games. Yes it's loud, yes it's fragile and yes the hardware isn't halfway decent but what do you care more about, playing games or justifying your choice of console?

I'm not saying the PS3 is a bad console, far from it, but the Xbox is by NO WAY a bad system to play games on. Quite the opposite, otherwise millions of people wouldn't buy the system. Simple as that.


By BansheeX on 3/26/2009 1:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And no, the PS3 is not cheaper and never was cheaper and never will be cheaper. Who says you NEED to buy the HDVD addon, the WiFi addon, the Cam addon, the HDD addon, the Remote addon, etc. If you want to play games


HDD is indeed REQUIRED to play DLC content and download tons of patches. And you forgot to mention netplay fees, which are indeed REQUIRED if you want to play games' online modes. 5 years of Live is $250, so your total cost going to be higher than the PS3 even with the Arcade model, no hard drive, no wireless, and no blu-ray. Shelf price means nothing, cost of ownership means everything, and the PS3 is simply cheaper.


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