In-depth exposé reveals Microsoft’s Xbox 360 failure rate was 68%

September 6, 2008

In-depth exposé reveals Microsoft's Xbox 360 failure rate was 68% Just recently the dreaded high failure rate issue with the Xbox 360 (otherwise known as the Red Ring of Death) received in-depth coverage from a well-known journalist. We are talking about some serious coverage here with insider interviews with the original engineers that worked on the Xbox 360 all the way up to the high ranks of Microsoft.

Geoff Keighley of Gametrailers and host of GT TV, said in an interview with Jace Hall that there is a definite lack of investigative journalism in the gaming industry, especially in regards to the high failure rate of the Xbox 360. Keighley also said that the Red Ring of Death with the Xbox 360 was never properly reported.

N’Gai Croal of Newsweek in the same interview added if the exact same issue happened to the iPod and there was a 30% failure rate then everyone would already know in detail why that happened. Jace Hall retorts we (the game industry) are just good at covering things up, which isn’t too far from the truth.

However all is not lost, as 17 years veteran journalist Dean Takahashi, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, Red Herring Magazine and Los Angeles Times, and now writes for VentureBeat, has made a tremendous effort to probe and delve into exactly what happened with the Xbox 360 and the cause of the high failure rate. Takahashi conducted over a hundred interviews starting from the engineers who worked on the hardware of the Xbox 360 all the way up to executives at Microsoft.

Takahashi gives an overview on how Microsoft Execs knowingly gave the go ahead for production of the Xbox 360 despite being aware of the high failure rate. It was all due to a race to beat Sony to the market for control of the living room.

The strategic chess moves as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and company take risk after risk, trying to outmaneuver their archrivals for the brass ring: dominance of the incredibly lucrative video game market and control of the digital entertainment gateway in the living room.

GameDaily’s overview of Takahashi’s report reveals out of every 100 Xbox 360, 68 would fail in the initial phase before production.

Microsoft knew it had flawed machines, but it did not delay its launch because it believed the quality problems would subside over time. With each new machine, the company figured it would ride the ‘learning curve,’ or continuously improve its production. Even though Microsoft’s leaders knew their quality wasn’t top notch, they did not ensure that resources were in place to handle returns and quickly debug bad consoles. There were plenty of warning signs, but the company chose to ignore them.

It also seems Microsoft in order to save $2 million of a $25 million contract with the third party vendor decided to forgo the quality assurance machines that are suppose to detect the sort of issues the Xbox 360 had.

Microsoft’s attitude of “release now and patch later” with the Xbox 360 has ended up costing billions of dollars, as well as leaving many gamers angry. It is also speculated that the reason Microsoft’s decline in worldwide sales is directly attributed to the Red Ring of Death issue.

If a CE company did not have resources of a billion dollar company like Microsoft it is practically guaranteed that company would be out of business by now. This raises an interesting question, is it fair for a company such as Microsoft to remain in the video game industry when its actions and issues it faces would normally cause other CE companies to fold has occurred?

The real victims here are the consumers of course and there really has yet to be a true apology issued by Microsoft. Yes the three year warranty extension is nice and a bit forced despite being a given, but I really don’t see any remorse from their decision and we are of course going to let them get away with it.

If you are an avid fan of the gaming industry then do yourself a favor and read Dean Takahashi’s book “The Xbox 360 Uncloaked,” which delves in-depth to expose exactly what happened inside Microsoft and why those decisions were made.

21 Responses to “In-depth exposé reveals Microsoft’s Xbox 360 failure rate was 68%”

  1. harry sachz:

    I’m calling bullshit on that. My 360, nor the 10 or so other people I know that have one have never had this problem. Some have a launch machine too.

  2. SW:

    Its a known issue with the brackets on the cpu & gpu, they buckle due to the heat and there goes your 360, you can even buy replacement bracket kits (“RRoD repair kits”).

    Mine should be good tho because its a falcon, which is supposed to have better cooling. Its also sitting out on a table by itself rather than in my tv enclosure which gets very very hot (makes my ps3 roar like a beast after like 20 mins – even have a USB fan going pumping the heat out :) )

    Your friends are lucky harry, my buddy is on his fifth machine.

  3. Kall:

    Dude Its fact they die all the time.

  4. harry sachz:


    I agree that looking after the machine does give it longevity, but then again that goes with everything. I just find 68% hard to believe, that would mean 7 out of 10 of my friends (and myself) would have had to return their systems. None of us have. Mine is also next to the TV cabinet, and in a pretty well ventilated area, which could be a factor as to why I haven’t had any trouble.

    Personally I am hoping mine does kick the bucket, as I hear that they’re beginning to replace the launch machines with the newer ones (more than likely refurbs), which means there is a chance i’d get a machine with a HDMI output.

  5. Bourne:

    Talk about throwing money into a hole.

  6. John:

    I had a launch machine, was there in line on the first day and purchase two systems. One for my brother and the other for me. They both recently received the red rings. It had a good, long run.

  7. Mr. Cairo:

    I don’t plan on letting MS get away with anything. THey unfortunately tainted my experience with my 360 – having to be “repaired” three times. I don’t buy 360 games at all any more. Anything new I get is for my PS3. I let my kids play on my 360 now. MS should stand up and listen – all of my subsequent game purchases has gone to a competitor. Exclusives? I’ll ignore them. Why should invest in a machine that will, eventually, RROD on me. Once the 3 year warranty is out and the machine dies on me, I do not plan on replacing it with another 360. I will most likely buy a second PS3.

  8. Bourne:

    Why, just why do people buy the same console if the same is going to happen. It’s utter and complete madness and shows the idiocy of the 360 owners.

  9. Ivan_PSP:

    This article is great and all true this will also make Microsoft lose customer which is fantastic the true always comes out. Sony must love all the Microsoft mistakes.

  10. harry sachz:


    It says a lot about the great games and features of the 360 if people are still getting it despite these ‘supposed’ problems, which I am calling bullshit on still.

    It’s not idiocy at all, it’s people wanting to have the best gaming experience, and as much as you want to spin it, the 360 does have more good games currently available than the PS3.

  11. darkwhitehair:

    dear hairy boy…
    youre an idiot…
    If youre release 360 is still running okay.. then you are one of the lucky ones… The guys who are being interviewed are some of the highly respected journalists… so their opinion matters a lot in this community…

    also… If you have watched the “Bonus Round” ( a podcast of…
    The editors themselves said that the red ring was a big problem… one of them were on their 3rd 360… although another one still had his launch 360… like you… but he isnt a dumbass…

  12. darkwhitehair:

    and this isnt about “which console is the best”… its about the 360 having a vital hardware problem…

    so stop using the same “360 has more games” argument…


  13. harry sachz:

    Dark White Furburger,

    First of all, if you’re going to call me an idiot, you may want to do a spell check first. Misspelling something when trying to ridicule someone else’s intelligence is assinine and reeks of douchebaggery.

    And you missed my point altogether. Bourne was indicating that 360 owners are idiots for buying a system that supposedly has an issue with hardware failure. My response was that the quality of the games is what keeps people going back to the 360. If the 360′s hardware had issues and the software was not very good, then that would be acceptable that people would stop buying it. However, fact is that the games on 360 are excellent, and people are willing to have to wait for a week or so in the event that a machine dies.

    As I said, spin it all you want if it makes you feel any better.

  14. darkwhitehair:

    hey I just watched that episode on crackle… and it begs to question… this episode was from July… why are you bringing this up now??
    not cool dude… try to be a little more punctual next time… :P

  15. Norm:

    Exactly why I’m avoiding the 360 unless I get a sweet deal on one (Under $200).
    My brother had to send his in for replacement.

  16. DavidB:

    One definition of insanity is to perform an action knowing what will result, yet expecting a different result. Spending money on ANOTHER MS console, based on their well documented hardware flaws of the past, meets the criteria of that definition.

  17. Arvis:

    Not to disparage anyone, but I think the odds of pulling a random sampling of 10 360-owners and NONE of them having had the RRoD at least once is somewhere akin to winning the lottery.

    I still maintain that the 360 failure rate is somewhere between 95% – 99%. It’s 100% among the gamers I know.


  18. Maylon:

    I think your all being a bit silly with the numbers now. And to tatsujin: I am apparently the only person who has absolutely no interest in little big planet

  19. kev:

    i don’t know if these numbers are valid or not, but i do know i will NOT be buying the next MS console at launch, or prolly until after the 1st year… if at all…. the guy who reported this has too many facts on his side to be considered a complete liar, and MS has not rebutted in any form, leading me to think there is some credibility.

    the funny thing is; i left sony because my ps2′s kept crapping out. it would be hypocritical of me not to hold ms accountable as well. i’m sure i’m not the only one.

    next gen, i predict, is gonna see MS back in last place (IF sony can launch at a lower price than the absurd one they launched at with this gen). The RROD issue (legend or fact) is not going to be forgotten. Deservingly so. I didn’t pay $400 to be their guinea pigs.

    i should have seen the writing on the wall once Ed Fries, Pete Moore and Seamus Blackely left. MS has forgetten that GAMES and PRICE sell the consoles, not the market timelines, as the Wii is proving.

    they can be first to market all they want, next gen, but people will NOT be forgetting the RROD issues and accompanying frustration.

    this isn’t Windows…. people have choices… and i think MS is in for a rude awakening next gen…

  20. Kmach:

    First off, I would say most of the people saying they still have a launch unit and it runs fine is full of it…you would have to be just too dang lucky for that to happen. However, even if you happen be lucky AND have ten other insanely lucky friends you have to remember that it only takes one person to burn through 4-6 consoles to go ahead bring the failure percentage up to around 35%. The biggest problem I would say, especially during the first year of the 360′s lifespan, is that once your unit broke you were then stuck in the refurbish trap. Microsoft couldn’t fix the broken units because at the time they could not find a cost effective way to repair them, it was cheaper just to throw the same soon to break parts back into the machine and ship it back. This continued until the 1yr warranty started running out on people, and bingo, Microsoft released the 3yr warranty.

    I have been posting on this topic for a while now and even estimated that the failure rate was at 65% back when MS was saying it was under the normal industry average, which I “believe” MS stated was around less than 3%. When reports started coming out that the 360 had a 30% failure, I knew my guess was right on the money.

    So are the consoles more reliable now? I currently shipped out my new 360 HDMI console today. However, I will admit that it did not red ring on me it simply just stopped producing a video signal. This is going to be my 6th 360 console.

  21. Dijkie:

    This doesn’t suprise me the least bit. So far, I’ve sent 3 faulty xboxes to Microsoft.

    The Xbox360 failure rate of my clan is 56%. Of the total of 52 xboxes owned, 29 were sent in for a replacement at some time.

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