Print 26 comment(s) - last by foolsgambit11.. on Sep 7 at 10:00 PM

Microsoft's console customers have been along a rough ride

Many Xbox 360 fans stay steadfastly faithful to their next generation console of choice.  However, even the majority of the most die-hard fans would admit that Microsoft's quality track record left something to be desired.  The console launched with a 90 nm CPU that tended to run hot and fail -- resulting in an iconic three red LEDs ringing the power light activating, in what is known as the "Red Ring of Death" (RROD).

Microsoft set aside over $1B USD to deal with the defects and has raced to deploy its Falcon 65 nm update in 2007 in hopes of remedying the issues. 

So just how badly hit was Microsoft?  According to a recent survey by Game Informer of 5,000 readers, since the late 2005 launch of the Xbox 360, over 54.2 percent of purchasers experienced a failure.  After sending their console in for repair, a whopping 41.2 percent became acquainted with failure once again.  With 30 million consoles shipped, these numbers would indicate 16.3 million failures and 6.7 second failures.

In comparison, only 10.6 percent of Sony PS3's and 6.8 percent of Nintendo Wii's experienced failure.  And for those who sent their consoles in for repair only 14.7 percent of PS3 owners and 11 percent of Nintendo Wii owners reported failure. 

Some insist the numbers are too low.  Griffin McElroy of Joystiq, a gaming blog that has extensively chronicled the console's issues, comments, "We're not sure what future techno-utopia this poll was conducted in, but a 54.2 percent Xbox 360 failure rate sounds awfully low. Had the survey's participants been comprised entirely of Joystiq staffers, it would have been a bone-chilling 100 percent."

The survey also showed that while Sony and Nintendo completed repairs in a week or two, Microsoft took a month or more.  One bright spot was that 37.7 percent of respondents said that Microsoft's support was "very helpful".  Another promising sign for Microsoft is that only 3.8 percent vowed not to buy future Xbox's due to the failures.  Conversely, 36.4 percent bought more than one Xbox 360 to replace a failing unit.

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RE: really jason?
By omnicronx on 8/21/2009 11:29:01 AM , Rating: 2
As I remember launch consoles had an 84% fail rating, with latter consoles coming in at 33%.

Remember from what? Nobody except Microsoft knows the real failure rate of the 360. I'm not trying to defend MS here, their failure rate is pretty much unforgivable. That being said, nobody knows the true results of any consoles failure rate, so why do these articles and news stories keep popping up? 5000 people is not a big enough sample, nor do I think their methodology and intepretation of the results paint a very good picture. It is very easy to sway stats to make a point, and it seems this is what was done here. No way in hell the PS3 failure rate is 10%. My PS3 even died on me less than 2 months in and I don't believe this number.

RE: really jason?
By tallcool1 on 8/21/2009 12:06:57 PM , Rating: 5
I think everyone can agree that the XBOX 360 has a failure rate that is way too high in general. You can argue over the percentage. Any consumer that would have purchased any other product would find this unexceptable and would never buy the product again, let alone defend it (fanboy) or recommend it to a friend due to such flaws.

RE: really jason?
By uvacom on 8/21/2009 2:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that the failure rate is too high. However, whether this is acceptable or not has a lot to do with consumer attitudes. Apparently for most people, a console being prone to failure is an annoying trait, but not a condemnable one (as long as it can be replaced at little or no cost to the consumer within a reasonable timeframe). This makes sense because a game console is not an essential device, and the market demographics indicate that most 360 owners probably know other 360 owners and/or own other video game platforms. Since the owner can still play other games and will eventually recover the use of a 360, the temporary loss of a 360 is usually perceived as a minor inconvenience. The real loss is on Microsoft's side, as it is very difficult to make money on a cutting edge piece of hardware if they effectively have to make two (or maybe just 1.5 or so) for every one they sell, plus customer service, shipping, technician labor costs, etc.

RE: really jason?
By ajfink on 8/22/2009 3:22:38 AM , Rating: 3
The failure rate IS unacceptably high, but that hasn't stopped me from recommending the console with (generally) better games to friends and other people online.

What am most interested in is comparisons of failure rates for different generations of Xbox 360s. Maybe someday Microsoft will release these numbers, because I'm sure they're the only ones who can accumulate perfectly accurate statistics on failures.

When my Xbox 360 died, it was an inconvenience, not a tragedy.

RE: really jason?
By foolsgambit11 on 9/7/2009 10:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
The failure rate IS unacceptably high, but that hasn't stopped me from recommending the console with (generally) better games to friends and other people online.
Wouldn't that mean that the failure rate is acceptable? Perhaps the same failure rate on a console without the other advantages of the 360 might not be. But 'acceptable' is a subjective judgment, and that judgement isn't made in a vacuum.

And sales of the 360 since the widespread reporting of RROD issues support the view that, even if the failure rate is astronomically high, it is considered acceptable by millions of people who have voted, not in a simple poll, but with their wallet. (Now there's a sentence for ya.)

There's little doubt that MS should do better next time around, but for this round of consoles, the damage (what little there was) is done.

RE: really jason?
By uvacom on 8/21/2009 1:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that the sample is completely non-representative so the results are meaningless (and almost certainly biased towards higher failure rates). But for typical statistical analysis, 5000 is a very good sample size for that population size. Let's say that 30 million xbox 360 translates into about 15 million xbox 360 owners (failure and various other reasons strongly suggest more than one unit/owner, we'll just call it 2 units/owner on average) that's more than enough to develop a confidence interval of 2 at the 99% confidence level (or a 1.4 CI at 95%). Not that the person who organized this study even understands what a CI is, of course. ;)

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