Microsoft Xbox 360 Least Reliable Console, Report Finds
A report from independent
warranty provider SquareTrade, which analyzed failure rates for over 16,000 new
game consoles covered by SquareTrade Care Plans, found Nintendo's Wii is four
times more reliable than Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) and nine times more
reliable than Microsoft's console platform, the Xbox 360. When looking at the
first two years of ownership, 2.7 percent of Wii owners reported a system
failure to SquareTrade, compared with 10.0 percent of PS3 owners, and 23.7
percent for Xbox 360 owners.
To determine failure rates,
the company included all malfunctions reported in the first 24 months after the
system was purchased. SquareTrade further examined Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death
(RROD failures) separately from all other failures, as Microsoft has guaranteed
to replace or repair any Xbox 360s experiencing the RROD failure for three
years. With nearly one in four systems experiencing a reported failure over 24
months, the company found the Xbox 360 to be historically the least reliable of
the three game systems. Just over
half of these failures were a result of the RROD issue.
While the RROD problem
continued to be the major issue for Xbox 360s purchased through 2008, the
report said early indications point to the problem abating in 2009. SquareTrade
drew two conclusions from the console's poor, but improving, performance. "It's
worthwhile considering that Xbox 360's failure rate drops to 11.7 percent when
you exclude RROD, which then puts it on par with the PS3," the report reads.
"If the RROD issue were resolved, we would anticipate future Xbox 360's to be
only slightly less reliable than the PS3."
Second, the report suggests Microsoft's
policy may result in an underreporting of failures by Xbox 360 owners to SquareTrade,
relative to the other two 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 e-mail, SquareTrade found that over half of their
customers who experienced a RROD error reported their problem directly to
Microsoft without contacting SquareTrade.
The report notes e-mail
survey respondents tend to be a self-selecting group, and cautions the data
should be used directionally rather than definitively, particularly because SquareTrade
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 percent.
Microsoft initially claimed in February 2007 that the "return" rate on Xbox
360s did not exceed 3-5 percent, they later published an open apology on July 5,
2007 and announced a $1.15 billion fund to be set aside for Xbox 360 repair and
replacement. The report argued the money would fund repairs for up to 2.5
million consoles, and thus implicitly anticipated a far higher rate of failure
than their stated 3-5 percent.
The most common types of problems reported with the PS3 and Xbox 360 were disc read errors and output issues. The Wii had more power and remote control issues than the other two systems, SquareTrade said. "Of the three major 7th generation game consoles, we can safely say that the Wii is the most reliable system on the market, with just one-fourth the malfunctions of the PS3 and Xbox 360," the report concluded. "Even when adjusted for the lower rate of usage, the Wii leads the pack by a comfortable margin."