Shit breaks. That’s just the way it is. After prolonged use you must expect an item, no matter how expensive, to wear down and ultimately fail. And while we’re fine with Father Time claiming the souls of our dead electronics, it’s nowhere near acceptable when something brand new starts crapping out, locking up or engaging in what we like to call “shitting the bed.”
As part of the gloriously negative Week of Hate, we thought it time to remember some of the biggest, most hated instances of our expensive hobby and lifestyle going tits up.
Xbox fire hazard
The problem: 14 million power cords for the original Xbox are recalled due to an internal malfunction that caused the unit to emit smoke or even catch fire. Some people reported burns and minor property damage, and an Illinois family said an Xbox-caused fire was responsible for the death of their infant son.
The response: Microsoft initiated a cord replacement program that was supposed to make its console stop behaving like a fireball, though reports continued pouring in that the power cord wasn’t even the real problem. As for that family, Microsoft said it wasn’t responsible for the system going up in smoke (even though the incident happened before the recall), and sought financial compensation for their legal defense costs.
We hated it because: Our Xboxes had been sitting there for four years not erupting, and then in 2005 we lived in fear of plugging it in and catching a face full of sparks. Ironically, people would forget this issue even exists, as the troubled 360 launch was just a few months away.
Red Ring of Death
The problem: Microsoft’s next console, the Xbox 360, soars to a 23.7% failure rate, usually indicated by the dreaded Red Ring of Death. A later poll of 5,000 Game Informer readers suggested the failure rate could be as high as 54.2%. In 2008, California consumers launched a class action lawsuit against Microsoft for all the broken hardware.
The response: Microsoft tucked a BILLION dollars away just to deal with the RROD and stepped up its console replacement program, though its prompt reaction led many to believe the company was well aware of the problem beforehand and still sold its machine to remain competitive. Later 360 units (i.e. Elites) shipped with new bits that alleviated the rampant malfunctions.
We hated it because: The problem has lessened in the past year, but in the 2007-2009 heyday every single GamesRadar editor had to send their 360 in for repair. Mr Elston even went through five 360s in the span of 15 months. That’s “total bullshit,” though Microsoft’s replacement setup was easy, free and fast. So at least it covered its tracks, right?
DS Lites crack in half
The problem: Multiple DS Lite owners report their flip-top machine has a cracked hinge, which in many cases led to the unit’s top half flopping around uselessly, or literally breaking in half.
The response: Nintendo formally said “less than 0.02 percent” of DS Lites suffered from the defect yet still offered free repairs to anyone who asked. Hm. Pretty good response, actually.
We hated it because: We love our DSes, and watching that tiny crack slowly grow until it snaps the whole thing half was like watching one of our kids wither away into nothingness.