Most gamers already know that and Microsoft acknowledged the “Red Ring Of Death (RROD)” failures in 2007 and it took a $1.15 billion charge to deal with warranty replacement costs. But surveys are now showing just how extensive the problems are. Microsoft’s consoles breaks down about 23.7 percent of the time in its first two years of use, according to warranty firm Square Trade’s analysis of 16,000 failed consoles.
As per a recent analysis done on gaming consoles reliability, confirms that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is the least reliable of the current systems. According to SquareTrade, Nintendo’s Wii is nine times more reliable than Microsoft’s Xbox, and four times more than Sony’s PlayStation 3. The study scrutinized failure rates for over 16,000 new game consoles covered by its standalone supplementary insurance plans.
In the first two years of ownership, SquareTrade found that 2.7 percent of Wii owners reported a system failure, compared with 23.7 percent of Xbox 360 owners and 10 percent of PS3 owners. Slightly more than half of all Xbox 360 failures were “red ring of death” related, while the remaining 11.7% were “other” failures. The good news for Xbox 360 owners? RROD failures appear to (finally) be in decline in 2009.
Why so many Failures ?
SquareTrade says it believes Microsoft’s warranty policy (an excellent, commendably responsible policy, in my opinion) “may result in an underreporting of failures by Xbox 360 owners to SquareTrade, relative to the other consoles.”
Because the RROD problem is so widely known to be covered by Microsoft’s warranty, we believe that more customers bypass SquareTrade and reported failures directly to the Microsoft. In a survey of SquareTrade customers with Xbox 360s conducted by email, SquareTrade found that over half of our customers who experienced a RROD error reported their problem directly to Microsoft without contacting SquareTrade. Email survey respondents tend to be a self-selecting group, so the data should be used directionally rather than definitively, particularly because we did not survey PS3 and Wii owners with the same question. With that caveat in mind, applying the survey data to the analysis shows that the Xbox 360 failure rate could be as high as 35%.
The full report (Report in PDF).
SquareTrade determined the PS3 beats the Xbox 360 and Wii for minutes used per month at 19.85 hours–slightly ahead of the Xbox 360‘s 17.55, and more than double the Wii’s 8.6.
The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that the normal failure rate for a consumer electronics device is about 2 percent; game consoles such as the Xbox 360 have as many as 1,700 components and are more sophisticated, resulting in a higher failure rate. But the Xbox 360 failure numbers are simply unheard of in the electronics industry.
Given those numbers, the Xbox 360’s chance of failure per day is 1.35 percent, compared with 0.50 percent for the PS3 and 0.31 percent for the Wii.
Square Trade found that, even without the RROD failures typified by three blinking red lights, the Xbox 360 fails 11.7 percent of the time after two years. It also said the RROD failures were prominent through 2008 and have abated during 2009. That is due in part to a console redesign, code-named Jasper, launched last year that fixed known problems. Failure rates for the Jasper-based machines, lauched after November, 2008, are just about 4 percent after a year. The Xbox 360 and PS 3 had “disc read error” problems as the most common reason for failure, while the Wii had remote and power problems.
Square Trade noted that it is possible the Xbox 360 failure rates are higher, since users may bypass Square Trade and go directly to Microsoft to get their consoles replaced. Usage is a factor in failure rates, but even the Wii is still more reliable when that is taken into account.
It’s time for Microsoft to divert their attention to quality.