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It's easier than ever to make up for console failures

It’s been a matter of days since the PS4 and Xbox One first went on sale, and hardcore fans on both sides of the console wars are already scouring the net for reports of widespread tech problems. But as much as people are looking for blue lights of death to replace red rings, no major problems have popped up yet. And based on how Microsoft is responding to Xbox One buyers annoyed by faulty disc drives, next-gen tech issues could be fixed with much more immediacy than we were used to in the previous generations.

There have been reports of multiple Xbox One’s with from disc drive problems, an issue one of GamesRadar’s own Xbox Ones suffered from as well. According to the CVG News story, one victim of faulty hardware got a pleasant surprise from Microsoft: a free game download to enjoy while their physical games weren't playable. It’s a smart, quick fix that wouldn’t have been possible back in 2006; the type that’s easy on consoles in this new day-and-date digital age.

Everyone wants a new system to work perfectly on day one, but flaws and bugs are a fact of life with electronics. When faced with issues like this disc drive malfunction in the past, a company like Microsoft would've spent weeks figuring out a strategy, then sent rebates or coupons to gamers who'd be forced to wait for weeks before they could resume playing. Customer service has sped up a lot in the last decade--and in a way it’s had to, because the Internet allows for widespread errors to gain notoriety much faster. It’s something Microsoft learned the hard way with the 360's Red Ring of Death.

And MS’s strategy of offering a free game as a way of apologizing has already been widely used by its first party competition. When Nintendo unexpectedly dropped the price on the 3DS, early system adopters were given 20 free games to smooth over any hurt feelings. And when Sony made good to users for its massive PSN outage, the PlayStation maker gave out multiple free games. Digital courtesy gifts like those are comparatively cheap when you remove the cost of manufacturing and shipping physical products to consumers, and it all moves a lot faster. This is the kind of fast-paced, efficient customer service we waited years for.

Hopefully this responsiveness is now the norm for next-gen. If something as massively inconvenient as the Red Ring of Death happens again in this console generation, system owners better see corporations on the scale of Microsoft fix its problems in a matter of hours instead of weeks. Anything less would be pretty hard to accept, and you can bet consumers would be voicing that dissatisfaction pretty loudly all over the Internet.

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4 comments

  • Eightboll812 - November 26, 2013 6:23 p.m.

    Aaaaand there's also the potential for complete dissatisfaction if the "game" offered is something akin to what MS already thinks is a good deal, AKA games with Gold... I get the point here, and yeah there's some possibility that it's not a horrible strategy. But it's also a slap in the face if you are asked to RMA your console to fix the drive and all you get is some crappy 4 year old digital game in return for you being out the box for several weeks. Because you didn't explain how MS proposes to actually fix the faulty drives and I'm assuming that's still an RMA process?!? Case in point, yeah, Sony offered digital games for it's PSN outage. They offered a choice of 5 games, and of the ones I didn't already have, the remaining choices were complete "meh". I didn't even bother to select my 2, because that's how "meh" the choices were. Sony's "apology" really didn't do me any favors, IMHO. If they had offered different choices, I might have felt "compensated" for my lost time when PSN was down. I'm not bitter, just pointing out what they offered was garbage. So as a way of apologizing, I'll wait and see if this trend is a positive thing, or just a way for MS and Sony to pretend they are doing us a favor when they really are not.
  • Shigeruken - November 29, 2013 4:53 a.m.

    I think Henry left out Microsoft's process for dealing with faulty consoles because it's public knowledge that they're sending out new consoles before you need to send yours in. So what's happening here is that customers are unable to play disc based games, and Microsoft is providing them with a choice between the exclusive launch titles (Ryse, Dead Rising etc) as a digital download. The idea being that you are able to continue playing something while your new console arrives, then you send in the faulty one. That seems to be the gist of the piece. Sure having to rma sucks, but in this digital space Microsoft is able to somewhat negate the issue of a faulty disc drive by providing a free digital product so that your system still has some entertainment value until the replacement arrives. I agree that the titles for the PSN outage were super 'meh' though, but at least Sony tried doing something. Free 'meh' games are better than nothing at all!
  • Eightboll812 - November 29, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    Yeah I just don't want these companies to get lazy. It's their screw up, it should cost them to fix it and make it right. Throwing a couple crappy digital games I have no interest in playing isn't compensation. It is better than nothing, but its not better by much, lol. But more importantly I know the difference between items that it costs them nothing to give out and items that cost them something. If something happened at a local store and they said "here's a few free promotional items for your trouble," and I knew those were already free promotional items and not something they were going out of their way to give me as a special concession, I don't feel quite as "special" in accepting their apology. If they give me something even as small as a free soda, I think "Hey, that was really nice of them!" because I know that is at their cost to do so. My point is, this could be a massive crutch that companies just end up using for PR purposes, instead of properly compensating the customer. As it is with MS, these games aren't bad, but there's not a bargain bin to choose from on Xbone either. If they are still giving out brand new titles for problems next year, well, that would be great. But I kind of doubt they will. I also doubt they will give customers the kind of care that launch customers are getting today, because they are still in that damage control mode from the summer. I could be wrong.
  • Shigeruken - November 30, 2013 5:32 a.m.

    Nah, I think you've got a perfectly valid point there. To be honest, I don't think it's at all cynical to think that either company might grow complacent and use free digital products as a crutch like you said. At the end of the day they're both out to take as much of your money as possible while spending as little as possible. I definitely do not want faults and network outages to become more common because compensation is easier.

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