A year in Xbox 360 failures: 2007 Edition


We enter 2008 with the current lifetime Xbox 360 failure rate at Joystiq standing at almost 100% -- we currently have one last man's console standing. Yup, that's right, and for those of you paying attention we hit 90% last month. A few of us experienced issues back in 2006, but almost every person on staff (including those who've left for other opportunities) -- with the exception of The One -- have experienced a Red Ring of Death, disc drive failure, or other non-user-error console bricking incident. There's no denying at this point that as much as we love the games, the Xbox 360 is the most defective console ever manufactured.

Check after the break for the staff's experiences with their bricked consoles. Like former Microsoft executive Peter Moore explained earlier this year, when failure is practically guaranteed at some point, all we can do is focus on the repair service.

The failure tales of 2007:

Justin McElroy
: I was watching Doctor Who when I got the rings. I actually had pretty smooth sailing with the repair, the whole thing took about three weeks total, and the absence gave me a chance to catch up with some of the PS2 and PC games I had been meaning to play. So, all in all, not that bad.

Jason Dobson: I suppose it was only a matter of time before my constant pleas of 'big bucks' and 'no whammy' were ignored, and my Xbox 360, a launch console at that, was struck with now infamous Red Ring of Death. It seemed to me that it was not a matter of 'if,' but rather of 'when,' a question that was answered last night (Dec. 26) at the top of a planned gathering of friends for a post-Christmas get together. Given that I had come to terms that the crash was imminent, it was the machine's choice in timing that proved more annoying than the event itself. We had all just sat down to enjoy a four-player game of Scene It! on the Xbox 360. The game had been freshly unwrapped, and we had all set aside time for an evening of button-pressing hysterics. This was not to be as videos began to skip, the drive ground to a haunt, and a quick reboot illuminated the dimly lit room in flashing red.

Ludwig Kietzmann: Since I was playing the phenomenal DiRT at the time, I can only assume that my launch model died of joy. The red rings came quite unexpectedly, as I was convinced my system would set some sort of record in its 19th month of operation. Microsoft doesn't do repairs this far out (think third-world countries), so normally an exchange at the store is your only option. However, if you happen to have an NTSC console in PAL land, Microsoft sends a matching system through to your local distributor -- which is nice. However, this process took a not-so-nice two months to complete, so it's just as well I bought that Core model immediately. The manufacturing date on my replacement model was actually after the day I handed in my dead system.

Alexander Sliwinski: The first time I got the RRoD I was sitting down for some Rock Band. Whatever, I knew it was going to happen eventually -- because it inevitably does. I then went through the process so many Xbox 360 owners had before me: Called India, answered inane questions, got my coffin, and a month later got my Xbox back (with a card for a month of free Xbox Live, which just replaces the month I lost anyway). Things were fine until one week later. My newly refurbished Xbox 360 went RRoD again! The creepy part of this story is that I would hit the power button intermittently -- you know, just in case it decided to come back to life. Shock of shocks, on the third day it rose again in the fulfillment of every RRoD sufferer's dream. It's doing fine now -- but we'll see.

Kyle Orland: My red ring came just as I was working my way through BioShock. The Microsoft press liaison I called was super-helpful, but couldn't do much to speed up my service -- it took about a week to get my "coffin" and about four all told to get a new system. That meant I didn't have a system for the launch of Halo 3 -- I actually had to borrow a friend's system to play the landmark game. As for BioShock, I still haven't gotten back to it ... once that momentum is lost, it's hard to get it going again.

Ross Miller: I bought a 20GB Xbox 360 in April 2006, right when the "shortage" had ended. I never got the ceremonious Red Ring, but it was definitely broken. Let me explain: it was just after Tokyo Game Show 2006 when I noticed it. Every so often my controllers wouldn't connect. Then it kept getting progressively worse, and by January 2007 I realized that the problem was definitely related to the Xbox 360. But just to make sure:

Tested my controllers on friend's console ... success
Tested their controllers on my console ... failure
Tested both controllers on my console in a completely different location (in case there was some unforeseen Wi-Fi interference, since there were about 27 different WLAN signals nearby) ... failure

Aggravated, but aware of the extended warranty, I phoned up Xbox support to try and explain my problem. The explanation was lost in translation. My phone operator told me a box is being sent to my address. I asked him if there was going to be anyone to tie ownership of my XBLM purchases to my console so that anyone could use them. He didn't understand and eventually just said "yes."

(This was a lie; note: when you purchase content from Xbox Live, privileges are given to both the specific console and your XBL account gamertag. If you change or replace consoles, then only people signed into your gamertag can use the content. Having tried to explain this to two operators hoping for some help, to no avail, I gave up and decided that it's something I'll have to deal with.)

A week later, it arrives and I ship off my console sans faceplate and hard drive (those I kept). A week later they report getting it. I was told they couldn't find anything wrong with it so they shipped me a new one, the same older model (no HDMI), around the end of February. It has worked ever since, although the fan is expectedly loud, and that's with at least 4 hours of someone playing it every day.

Christopher Grant: To be honest, my retail launch 360 is doing just fine ... just not at my house. You see, when I wrote up the Elite HDD transfer process for Joystiq, I used my own console and effectively tied everything to the Elite so, seeing no reason to have the second console around, I sent it off to my older brother's where, I'm happy to report, it's doing quite well. The Elite, on the other hand, didn't fare so well. Upon inserting BioShock into the drive (the copy I purchased a week early no less!), the disc just spun and spun ... and spun. Unfortunately, each time the motor sounded more and more broken until, finally, it just didn't spin at all. While I didn't get the dreaded RROD, I did get a busted disc drive (a problem that is apparently quite common on the Elites, I would learn).

Like Kyle, despite going through a press liaison, the repair process wasn't any quicker (perhaps slower?) than average. It took about one week to receive my coffin, and then another three weeks or so to receive the repaired console back. Lucky for me, Joystiq Podcast listener, fellow game blogger, and all around nice guy Dan Zuccarelli offered to lend me a backup 360 he had around (which he bought when his was in the shop). I gladly took him up on his offer and finished BioShock on his box while mine was off getting fixed. Though the Elite has been fine since then, I'm still irked that – in addition to the games that were transfered onto the Elite not working unless signed into Live – the games I had purchased on the Elite no longer worked unless signed into Live, since the console had been replaced. Normally not a major issue ... until Xbox Live suddenly stops working.

Zack Stern [The one guy on staff who hasn't had an Xbox failure, but oddly enough had a Wii failure)]: I was nervous about contributing to this story, since I haven't had an Xbox RROD yet. But my horrible customer service experience as a regular gamer -- I didn't call any of my PR contacts as a writer -- was worth mentioning.

Remember that XBLA promo for two free games? I followed the instructions and got the codes for Joust and Robotron. The problem was that the Joust code -- the only game of the two I cared about -- didn't work.

I figured the problem would be easily resolved through email. But after a couple messages, many outgoing calls to India, zero out of two promised calls made to me, and a few total hours of my time wasted, I still have no Joust replacement code. Highlights include repeating several times that my name isn't "Sack Turner," and explaining the entire story over and over for nearly every new call placed.

One of the level two support guys said, on October 17, that he couldn't give me any prediction about how long the replacement code would take. I gave him some options, like "this week," "this month," and "this year," but he wouldn't take any. I guess he's glad that he didn't.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.