12.14.08

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Microsoft Sued Again for XBox 360 Failures, Slammed for Deception and FUD

Posted in FUD, Hardware, Microsoft at 9:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“There are people who don’t like capitalism, and people who don’t like PCs. But there’s no-one who likes the PC who doesn’t like Microsoft.”

Bill Gates

ANOTHER WEEK, another Microsoft lawsuit.

Microsoft could find themselves in some hot water if a Madison County, Illinois resident has his way. Jason Johnson is suing Microsoft for what he claims is defective hardware in relation to his Xbox 360. Johnson claims that his console has ruined his favorite games and made them ‘unplayable’ due to optical disc scratching. He claims that his copies of Rock Band, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Rock Band 2 all began displaying the “Disc Read Error” after extensive use.

This begs the question:

Having your games destroyed by your console certainly isn’t fun, but is it worth $50,000?

There is more information about it here and this is not the first time that such a thing is happening [2]. The allegation is based on fact [1] and there’s much more to the problems [3-6], as we showed a few months ago.

Amid tough times and billions in aggregated losses, Microsoft chooses not to mention its main competitor, which is putting it to shame.

In fact, Nintendo’s red-hot Wii system outsold the Xbox by almost 3-to-1 in November.

 

Some wondered why Microsoft left out a comparison to the Nintendo Wii and had doubts about Microsoft’s thoughts that the Wii isn’t really a competitor for the Xbox 360.

Selective statistics. Classic!

Microsoft does what it does best by throwing some FUD at its easier-to-compete-with and easy-to-ridicule rival. It’s doing it again. Sony has already responded to Microsoft’s latest FUD.

Sony Shoots Back at Microsoft on Home

[...]

Now this may not come as too much of a surprise but Sony doesn’t entirely agree with this proposition, in fact it believes that Home is so advanced that, “PlayStation Home just couldn’t be done on any other game platform”. This, at least it according to Director of PlayStation Home, Jack Buser.

Microsoft unethically crashed launch parties of the Sony PlayStation 3 (among others) and it publicly mocked Nintendo’s Wii [7, labeling (libeling) it “a kids toy.” If the best revenge is being successful, then Nintendo got its revenge for these distasteful tactics from Microsoft.

____
[1] Microsoft admits scratch problem with Xbox 360

There hasn’t been much discussion on the fact that the problem exists by consumers, but untill now Microsoft has always somewhat denied the problem and never proposed a solution.

The Dutch television show Kassa, which deals with customer complaints, has been nagging Microsoft about this problem for several weeks, they did tests with Xbox360 setups and filmed (and proofed) that the Xbox360 is indeed responsible for scratching game discs, when not moved, placed on a stable table and under the best possible conditions.

[...]

The television show also reported that while this issue is now an issue in the Netherlands (it is also widely covered in regular news), it could become a global problem for Microsoft in the future. Therefore I would recommend anyone who is facing the same problem to contact their local Microsoft office and point them to this article.

[2] Gears of War disc errors – why the hell is no one covering this?

So, we’re all just ‘unlucky’ Mark? Thanks for that. I’m happy for you and your console, but what about us? Where are we supposed to turn to for help and support? Microsoft wasn’t very helpful (ref #102-379-2964) any of the times I’ve called them (I think it’s up to three now for the same issue – perhaps I’ll call again today and check on an update).

All I know is that if I see that dreaded error message again on my new 360 I am going to go absolutely ballistic!!!

[3] Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against MS For Bricked 360s

According to Gamespot, the suit seeks a minimum of $10 million in damages, depending on how MS decides to defend itself.

[4] Numerous Reports, November 30 Xbox 360 Update Is Bricking Consoles

Some consoles are being bricked by Thursday’s dashboard update. Issues range from freezing, red ring of death and VGA adapterm alfunction. Microsoft isn’t acknowledging the issue and billing $140 for repairs.

[5] Update brick your 360? Speak up

Since yesterday’s update, there are numerous reports about 360s being bricked. Some people suspect that this is being done by Microsoft intentionally to stop modders and hackers. Xbox Scene thinks it has more to do with certain combinations of hardware and firmware.

[6] Autoupdate killed my 360!

I was fine yesterday gaming with the VGA cable but after getting the autoupdate today, I get a black screen. Does Microsoft test these things? My connection to the TV didn’t change yet its screwed. Thanks for nothing Microsoft.

[7] Microsoft Taking Wii Lightly in Europe?

“…People will make a clear decision as to whether they want that sort of product — a kids toy — or they want high-definition gaming and entertainment and all that it brings.” [--Microsoft]

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27 Comments

  1. J5 said,

    December 14, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Gravatar

    I would like to thank you guys for making this web resource. I ran across it on accident when searching for information on MS Shills as written about by EGM. I couldn’t find that article but I found your resources here to be invaluable in getting the entire perspective on this corporations tactics. Thank You!

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Gravatar

    In several countries, the Xbox has been known to start fires. The problem persisted for a long time before MS execs admitted that it was the Xbox and not the power cable. There was a bit of theater about the cables.

    http://forums.xbox-scene.com/lofiversion/index.php/t361537.html

    But at the end of the day, most countries have seen apartment and house damage due to the MS box, and even untimely death:

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/01/microsoft-blames-babys-parents-for-deadly-xbox-fire/

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=207000426

    http://www.aftonbladet.se/pryl/dator/article271852.ab

    IIRC, the problems went on for years.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/295/1010295/microsoft-xbox-burnt-our-house-down-claim

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/19/xbox_recall_nofix/

    Wii appears to be selling this year, even ahead of the PS3. Xbox appears to remain 6th place among the consoles. Which, when you think about it, is still good: it’s never been more than a testbed for DRM on PC hardware.

    The new models appear to be the same:

    http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/7690/

  3. Jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

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    By “PC hardware” you mean all those tri-core PowerPC machines we all use as desktops, right?

    As for installed base, the 360 has done reasonably well – it’s now sold more than the original Xbox; twice as many as the Playstation; sold more than 10 times the number of units as the Dreamcast; almost 5 times as many as the N64 or Saturn; nearly 10 million more than the SNES; about 7m more than the PS3; about about 3m more than the Gamecube. Those aren’t small numbers.

    The question is, how long can Microsoft afford to turn a loss whilst buying into the market?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:57 am

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    It has not sold well. It has been dumped for 3 years. XBox is no solid basis for comparison. Being better than bad does not make something good.

  5. Jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 11:01 am

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    How about the 7 OTHER major consoles I mentioned as being beaten out in sales figures? Only 2 of the better-selling systems are home consoles – the rest are handhelds. The 360 is by no means market leader, but suggesting it’s not done pretty well is disingenuous. And in the land of games, there are other measures, such as average review scores, where the 360 still does pretty well for itself.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 11:18 am

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    Suggesting XBox 360 was successful is like claiming that Windows is popular, as opposed to just ubiquitous because of what Microsoft callously called “piracy”.

    How do you measure success? Freedom (DRM)? Customer satisfaction (RRoD comes to mind)? Financial gain (losses of over $7 billion)?

  7. Jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 11:30 am

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    All home consoles include DRM. Even the NES included a chip designed to allow only licensed cartridges to execute. Nobody wins that question.

    Typical ways to measure a console’s success are:
    * Installed base (where the 360 is clearly ahead of Sony in the current-gen race, and only third in home conoles since figures began)
    * Attach rate (i.e. how many games are people buying for their consoles? The 360 eviscerates the competition here)
    * Lifetime profits (the 360 will likely result in a lifetime loss – but a much smaller loss than the Xbox, and the 360 started turning a per-month profit earlier this year)
    * Review averages (technically only helps a brand’s prestige – history shows good games do not necessarily make profitable games)

    The 360 will likely result in a net loss. I don’t think anyone doubts this. I don’t think anyone doubted this from day one. But if it helps cement the “Xbox” brand alongside Sony and Nintendo, then it will have done what it was intended to do – and along with a prestigious brand comes the promise of better sales (and possibly even profits) next time around.

    Has the hardware failures thing hurt it? Undoubtedly. And I doubt Microsoft can afford that kind of loss again.

    Typically, Microsoft try everything twice – The first time as a dry run, the second time as the “serious” attempt. If they still don’t see something as profitable, then they dump it and take any redeemable features for elsewhere (e.g. individual Tablet & Media Center Windows are dead; HPC may die after 2008 fails). I doubt they will pull out of consoles – the brand is on the up, despite the cock-ups with things like the RRoD issue

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 11:36 am

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    Since you mentioned “reviews”, be aware that Microsoft people were caught pushing them into the press (not just ghostwriting XBox 360 stuff).

  9. Jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 11:41 am

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    I’ve been immersed in the business for long enough to know who to read and who not to read. I also have my own opinions, formed over 19 years of game play.

    The 360 has earnt its reputation as the system with the widest selection of great games of this generation. Sorry, but it’s true.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 12:15 pm

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    Define great games. Many people choose Wii for its games and peripherals.

  11. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 1:13 pm

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    People choose the Wii so they can play Wii Sports with grandma. The vast majority of the remainder of the console’s game library is worthless shovelware.

    Really Roy, you’re totally out of your depth on this. Don’t claim to know about games, because it’s pretty clear you don’t.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 1:24 pm

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    Consoles haven’t just a niche market of elite gamers. Nintendo proved it,.

  13. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 1:35 pm

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    Which is lovely for them. But it doesn’t prevent the majority of the games being shit. That’s like claiming “Who cares about arthouse cinema, people want to watch Space Chimps” as an argument that the latter is better.

    Since you INSIST on embarrassing yourself, Roy, since you pushed and pushed, then here you go.

    Metacritic.com produces aggregate scores across a large number of review sources, for assorted types of media. The metacritic average scores for all three systems show the following number of titles with scores of 90/100 or higher (including download-only titles, including multi-format games):

    Wii: 8
    PS3: 10
    360: 18

    if you increase the search scope to 85/100, the following numbers emerge:
    Wii: 16
    PS3: 39
    360: 55

    You can compare the numbers to the other main aggregation site, and the same patterns will be shown. Only by willfully going against reality can these numbers mean anything other than what I’ve said – that the 360 has the largest selection of great games, like it or not.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm

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    Which is lovely for them. But it doesn’t prevent the majority of the games being shit. That’s like claiming “Who cares about arthouse cinema, people want to watch Space Chimps” as an argument that the latter is better.

    We’ve only just discussed criteria for success. If profit is one of them, only Nintendo succeeded. I personally admire Nintendo’s escape from violence, which hardens the young generation for all sorts of ulterior motives.

    Is shooting bullets at antelopes fun (a top Microsoft exec got arrested for doing this)? If it’s fun, does it make it OK?

    ‘Goodness’ of games is subjective in some people’s mind.

  15. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:06 pm

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    http://www.sega.com/platinumgames/madworld/EnglishUK/index2.html

    Wii exclusive.

    Enjoy.

  16. AlexH said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:12 pm

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    @Roy: Nintendo make a profit on the hardware, but they don’t generate much in third-party licensing. MS, on the other hand, make a loss on the hardware, but generate an overall profit.

  17. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm

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    We’ve only just discussed criteria for success. If profit is one of them, only Nintendo succeeded.

    Absolutely. Where did I say Nintendo weren’t the ones making the big bucks? I’m pretty sure I said more than once that Microsoft would be making another loss

    I personally admire Nintendo’s escape from violence, which hardens the young generation for all sorts of ulterior motives.

    “ulterior motives”

    So….. Sony are training an army of battle-hardened supermen? What exactly does that mean?

    Is shooting bullets at antelopes fun (a top Microsoft exec got arrested for doing this)? If it’s fun, does it make it OK?

    I’ve never shot at an antelope. I’ve played games though. I’m not sure they’re the same thing.

    ‘Goodness’ of games is subjective in some people’s mind.

    Taking things on a purely moral ground, on one individual’s moral basis, is worthless to all. Would you rank Barney & Friends ahead of The Godfather due to the violence in the latter? Elmo in Grouchland ahead of Star Wars? The Lion King 3 ahead of Schindler’s List?

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm

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    Yes, I know things are gradually changing, but that too is a minority.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm

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    That last comment was in reference to violent Wii games.

    So….. Sony are training an army of battle-hardened supermen? What exactly does that mean?

    See who funds America’s Army.

  20. jo Shields said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:32 pm

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    See who funds America’s Army.

    US taxpayers

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm

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    Exactly. They fund two ‘armies’. A real one and a digital one. Propaganda is a powerful thing.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/north-america/2008/11/army-videogame-recruitment

    ‘Hordes of tech journalists and pasty game-fans watched in awe at the P.T. Barnum spectacle, before claiming their free soft-drink and shuffling back inside the convention centre where Tony Hawk was about to do a stunt-skateboard demo. The game being advertised, Full Spectrum Warrior, another previously developed Army-funded title) the piece has Lt. Col. Gary Stephens explaining that videogames have a central role as training aids in the modern army. His unit is dedicated to keeping an eye on the commercial game sector and identifying technology that might be useful for military training. Reassuringly, Lt. Col. Stephens goes on to state that, “We don’t have the intent or capability to be a commercial game house.”‘

  22. RyanT said,

    December 15, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Gravatar

    @ Jo

    For a start, the subjective nature of reviewing puts your metacritic basis off, along with the slew of baseless analysis that follows in the wake of uneducated forumers spewing bile about their competition. Then there’s the fact that many games on Wii and DS have been non traditional – 360 is heavy with exactly the kind of male orientated action, “mature” titles that have sat well for years, compared to titles credited with expanding the gaming market like Brain Training that have garnered less popularity amongst critics, seemingly precisely because it isn’t the traditional slew of FPS and similar titles that so dominate the other 2 platforms.

    Far more telling of any platform is the comparative range of software that can be sold, upon which Wii and DS have generally shown themselves to be ahead of the others. To such a degree that this is a problem Microsoft specifically set up studios and set about buying exclusives so as to try and capture games outside of the usual lot.

    And Alex, there is little evidence to believe the Xbox business is genuinely profitable. The hardware makes such a loss, even with software licensing it doesn’t really make up for it. Compare that to where Nintendo makes profit on both hardware AND software (the comparative cost of development is far lower), it doesn’t shape up well.

    The approach that boith Sony and Microsoft have taken with their respective consoles are exampels of a dying breed. Hardware that doesn’t make a profit thanks to high investment in visual technology, with development budgets of games that similarly suffer from severe increases in cost to the point where risk is barely viable, games are produced that fit into the same mould and thus audience appeal as before, it doesn’t look good for the Xbox and Playstation brand.

    Let’s also not forget that attach rates are also an erroneous figure. The Gamecube at the end of its life cycle had an attach rate of 10:1 in the favour of software, yet it was still considered a failure. Why? The range of software that sold was considered narrower, and the actual install base of the system wasn’t seen as big enough to be viable for many projects, from large to small.

  23. AlexH said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Gravatar

    @RyanT: there is evidence; Microsoft’s stock market filings.

    You might think Playstation and Xbox are examples of a ‘dying breed’, but the market differs with you. On those platforms a single game can sell $300 million in one week.

    Nintendo are doing very well with Wii, but both MS and Sony are doing well with their consoles too. And remember, Xbox is only half of MS’ gaming platform story.

  24. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Gravatar

    A lot of the xbox360 APIs are the same as they are on Windows, which means that most studios can easily develop for both xbox and pc fairly easily.

  25. RyanT said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Gravatar

    @ AlexH

    No, the market agrees with me, considering wii has consistently outsold two consoles combined who represent the opposite values – high visual fidelity, complexity and multimedia capabilties, compared to size, ease of use and efficiency.

    That number is rather meaningless too considering there’s nothing stopping Wii doing that, especially in comparison to lower development costs on Wii meaning more of that money is profit. Let’s also not forget the other consoles are very heavily front loaded, being based on the “blockbuster” model – sell heavily in a week to a month before completely dropping out of the charts, whilst Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit achieve similar – if not go on to achieve better sales – over a longer period. This also has the added benefit of assuring a games value over a longer period, rather than subsequently suffering from many price drops and high second hand rates as demand and thus value quickly depreciates, something which some in the industry have been bitching about, despite being their own doing as a consequence of said blockbuster model.

    I suggest you read these:

    http://malstrom.50webs.com/malstromcasualarticledivision.htm

    http://malstrom.50webs.com/theblueoceanarticles.htm

    http://malstrom.50webs.com/disruptionchronicles.htm

    All are based on the findings in these books:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=SIexi_qgq2gC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Innovators+dilemma

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ZUsn9uIgkAUC

    http://books.google.com/books?id=fKTllv6_O74C

  26. AlexH said,

    December 16, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Gravatar

    If you’re reading this stuff from books, then it’s not really surprising that it’s out of date.

    There is a profit difference between Nintendo and MS of just $6 on the hardware, and Xbox games are consistently priced at $60 versus $50 based on recent figures. With _one_ Xbox game sale, MS is already $4 up.

    No-ones arguing that Wii isn’t very successful, but to say Xbox 360 isn’t is badly wrong.

  27. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2008 at 3:44 am

    Gravatar

    Both Microsoft and Sony are doing badly. How do you define success? In fact, Microsoft considers quitting this market after this generation. Ballmer calls XBox 360 a “funny product” because it’s not profitable.

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