When it extended the Xbox 360's warranty to three years, Microsoft admitted the Xbox 360's failure rate was unacceptable. However, despite covering both the "Red Ring of Death" and E74 errors, the company has never admitted exactly how often its console suffers from technical problems or manufacturing defects.
Now, Game Informer magazine has conducted a survey of 5,000 subscribers to find out how often consoles conk out. The September issue of the Minnesota-based, GameStop-owned magazine features the results of the survey, which found that a whopping 54.2 percent of Xbox 360 owners surveyed reported having the console fail on them once. Were that figure applied to the platform's 30 million-unit installed base, the result would be 15.72 million failed consoles.
Perhaps more damning, 41.2 percent of 360 owners had a second hardware malfunction--meaning that potentially 12.36 million people have had their consoles fail again. Some 36.4 percent of 360 owners reported having to buy a second console, versus 13.4 percent of PlayStation 3 owners and 8.4 percent of Wii owners. Also, Game Informer found that 69.9 percent of respondents said they had at least one friend who had an Xbox 360 cease working. Nonetheless, only 3.8 percent of respondents said that the 360's hardware failures convinced them to not buy a replacement console from Microsoft.
By comparison, 10.6 percent of PlayStation 3 owners reported a failure, with 14.7 percent reporting a second hardware problem. The Wii was the most reliable, with a 6.8 percent failure rate and an 11 percent secondary failure rate. However, the Wii's low numbers may also be due to the fact it's the least played of the three consoles. Some 41.4 percent of Wii owners said they played it for less than an hour per day on average. By contrast, 40.3 percent of Xbox 360 owners played for three to five hours per day, and 37.3 percent of PS3 owners played three to five hours per day.
Game Informer also asked respondents about their experiences with the three platform-holders' customer service departments. Again, Nintendo came out on top, with 56.1 percent of respondents saying they were "very satisfied" with their experiences. Sony was close behind with a 51.1 percent satisfaction rate, followed by Microsoft with a 37.7 percent satisfaction rate.
CONSOLE FAILURE RATE
PlayStation 3 - 10.6 percent
Wii - 6.8 percent
Xbox 360 - 54.2 percent
SECOND CONSOLE FAILURE RATE
PlayStation 3 - 14.7 percent
Wii - 11 percent
Xbox 360 - 41.2 percent
GAMERS WITH FRIENDS WHO HAVE HAD A CONSOLE FAILURE
PlayStation 3 - 12.4 percent
Wii - 6 percent
Xbox 360 - 69.9 percent
"VERY HELPUL" CUSTOMER SUPPORT RATING
Sony - 51.1 percent
Nintendo - 56.1 percent
Microsoft - 37.7 percent