Xbox 360 Red Ring Of Death: Consumers Need To Be Upset
First of all, I'm well aware that we're a PlayStation-oriented site (not a fansite or blog, for the record), but this doesn't mean we're not gamers like everyone else. I own both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 as does most everyone else I know at this point. However, regardless of the platform, I'm not understanding something: the catastrophe that is the "Red Ring of Death" system failure - yeah, you heard me; catastrophe - continues to run rampant, and as far as I can tell, Microsoft hasn't done anything to fix the problem. They hide behind this, "oh, it's just a flaw that can happen...there's nothing we can do about it." Translation- "We want all of you to buy multiple 360s."
Why? Why aren't more consumers absolutely livid about this? Over the past few years, I've paid close attention to this ongoing saga, and at one point, the RRoD issue caused defective rates to jump to over 30%. That's 1/3, people. One out of every three 360s sold have failed or will fail; that's what that number means. Since then, retailers have reported a decreasing number of defective returns, but it certainly hasn't decreased enough to be respectable. The latest results are all over the place, but the bigger retailers will still estimate a sold : returned defective ratio of anywhere between 10 and 25%. Now, during the worst times, Microsoft insisted it was no more than 3-5%, which is a flat-out lie, and nobody seemed to care. Then they say there's nothing they can do about it, and still, everyone stays quiet. What the hell is going on here?! Is this the biggest, most elaborate mind-wash in the history of electronics?
It would be one thing if the 360's competitors had similar issues, but both the Wii and PS3 are remarkably reliable, with retailer defective ratios always hovering around 1-3%. That's acceptable. That's expected. Nobody I know who owns a Wii has ever had it fail, and nobody I know who owns a PS3 has ever had it fail. The 360 tally? Well, one friend is currently on his third. Another is only on his second, but he just bought his first back in March. A third friend is on his fourth 360 in two years, and another acquaintance of mine has simply given up after his fourth bit the dust. This is insane. Look, I have the 360 for the same reasons others have it; games like Gears of War 1 and 2, Halo 3 and Fable II are too good to pass up, and I've immensely enjoyed other titles like Lost Odyssey, Beautiful Katamari, and I'm looking forward to Left 4 Dead. While I firmly believe the PS3 outstripped the 360 in 2008 (MGS4, LBP, and R2 is an unbeatable exclusive trio), the software is there for the 360.
But can that be the only reason? Is it somehow less frustrating for other people when their system fails? Because it would piss me right off, and it has in the past. We all pay a substantial sum of money for our entertainment, and the 360 is - and I'm not going to sugarcoat this - a horrendously unreliable machine, and it's an utter embarrassment as far as I'm concerned. It wouldn't matter if it were a blender or a camera; when something has such a disastrous defective rate, it is completely unacceptable and consumers need to punish the company responsible for the product. And yet, this isn't happening. Well, the PS3 has been catching up quite rapidly as of late, but that's probably due more to the aforementioned exclusives, Blu-Ray, enhanced Network and Store, and lower price. It probably has less to do with the RRoD issue on the 360, and this just bugs the crap out of me. Yes, the 360 gets a lot less play time for me, but a lot of that is because I'm just worried it'll fail if I even look at the thing.
Everywhere I go, I hear about another failed 360. It could be my cousin's house where my uncle has brought the 360 to the post office three times already, or it could be down at GameStop, where yet another 360 with the three flashing red lights is sitting in the promotional display. Yeah, that's one hell of a promotion. But obviously, Microsoft doesn't care, and that's because they clearly have nothing to worry about. And they won't have anything to worry about unless consumers smarten up and execute their right to say, "ah, no, I don't want to be stolen from." The 360 is a fine gaming machine, and I'm not going to deny that. But someone somewhere needs to force Microsoft to fix this. And if you honestly believe they can't, you really are a lost cause.
P.S. Concerning 360 worldwide sales, I'm just wondering...how many of those are "new" buyers whose warranty ran out and had to buy a new one? I mean, I'm just curious.
11/20/2008 Ben Dutka