Console failure rates have been a common news item throughout the year, with numerous surveys out of the US suggesting that the problem was far greater than Sony, Nintendo and especially Microsoft would like to admit. In August, Game Informer magazine polled 5,000 subscribers and found that a whopping 54.2 percent had reported at least one broken Xbox 360. In September, electronics-warranty company SquareTrade corroborated the findings to a lesser scale, finding that of the 2,500 Xbox 360 consoles it analysed at random, 23.7 percent failed within two years of purchase.
Now, a survey from CNET UK shows that the situation is similarly dire in the British Isles. The results from an online user-initiated poll of 1,128 UK-based console owners (of whom 562 owned Xbox 360s, 473 owned PlayStation 3s and 591 had Wiis, with some owning more than one) indicated that 60 percent of Xbox 360 owners had experienced terminal hardware failure of some sort, compared to 16 percent of PS3 owners and just 6 percent of Wii owners.
According to CNET UK's survey, Xbox 360 failure problems are highly likely to happen within the first 12 months of purchase, with 47 percent reporting console death inside a year. The site also found a high proportion of people took advantage of Microsoft's extended warranty offer; 72 percent sent them back to the manufacturer, while 15 percent decided to try to fix it themselves.
The failure rates on other consoles also seem to be comparable in the UK to those reported in surveys from the US. Game Informer's survey indicated that 10.6 percent of PS3 owners had reported a failure, while CNET UK found that of its UK respondents, 16 percent had suffered a PS3 console failure. The trend for the Wii is also comparable internationally, with a 6.8 percent initial failure rate from the US Game Informer survey, and a similar 6 percent result from CNET UK.
AS CNET UK notes, its survey was self-selecting, so as with the Game Informer results, they do not represent a random or necessarily representative sample. CNET UK has the full story on its site now, including the anecdote of one user whose Xbox 360 "was repaired six times before (being) refunded by Microsoft."
Disclosure: CNET UK is published by CBS Interactive, which also publishes GameSpot UK.