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Microsoft’s XBox 360 eats your game disc, who’s responsible ?

For as long as there have been ROM drives, there have been reports of discs being eaten. It’s not a new topic, as anyone who spent a day trying to get the remains of a cassette tape our of an old-world music centre will testify. Does the problem still exist with the XBox 360?  Let’s say that a Microsoft XBox 360 eats your game disk, then who’s responsible? KitGuru looks over the evidence.

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One of KitGuru’s most loyal readers purchased the latest XBox 360 Kinect edition over the Xmas holidays. For the best part of 2 days, it sat in the corner, silently delivering world class entertainment. Having heard all of the Red Ring of Death stories from the early days, our reader was happy to note that the unit was cool to the touch and seemed to be much nicer than the early models.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends.

Toward the end of the second day, a low rumbling began to eminate from the unit. Within an hour, while playing the Kinect Adventures game that was supplied with the package – the rumbling turned to a clattering.

Ejecting the game disc revealed that the surface had been well and truly chewed by the Microsoft Xbox 360.

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Does Microsoft turn games into mincemeat using XDisc 360 technology or have a handful of issues been over-reported in the specialist press?

If you’re not sure from that shot, we have blown it up and inserted an astronomic beauty to help highlight the new addition to the brand new game disc.

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Galileo discovered rings around Saturn. Now you could experience a similar thrill-of-discovery if you're lucky enough to buy one of the latest XDisc 360 units that can cause perfect rings of scratches

When it works, there’s no doubt that the XBox is a really cool piece of technology. The Kinect device is nothing short of miraculous, given the price that these things sell at. However, buying a complete game experience for £249 doesn’t sound so cheap if random units are capable of chewing up £50 disks.

KitGuru asked its old friend Google about “XBox Kills Disks” and was informed that there were more than 1 million entries concerning this issue. Sure, not all of them will be genuine, new or even true – but how many issues does one manufacturer have to see its customers endure before it chooses to fix the problem? Cheap DVD drives might be around £8 on the mass market scale that Microsoft would buy them, but high quality drives can’t be more than £10. It’s a small price that a lot of customers would like to have the chance to pay, if it would reduce the risk of XDisc.

From what we can tell, neither the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3 or humble home PC suffer from this tendency to mass murder games – so why does the XBox have such a fearsome, pervasive and long standing reputation as a killer?

Every Guru’s friend, Wikipedia, has a great section devoted solely to the problems suffered by XBox 360 owners, which you can find here.

Dutch TV program ‘Kassa’ reported some time ago that 1 in 9 of the XBox consoles it tested, would spontaneously scratch a disk – even if the entire system was in a suitable/shielded environment.

While Microsoft enables the world to communicate with PCs, it seems to have been strangely non-committal about the problem of “Whose responsibility is it to replace disks which have been scratched by an XBox 360 – when the manufacturer has ample evidence that the problem is not an isolated one”.  KitGuru wonders what (if any) kind of pressure Microsoft has brought to bare on the European Commission for Gates & Co to be able to avoid responding to direct questions about scratched disks. From the reports we’ve seen on the web, it seems that Microsoft was due to give a formal statement to the European Commission 4 years ago, but never did.

Has Microsoft managed to create an XDisc situation for you in the last 360 days ? We'd love to know if your console has earned this badge of, er, pride.

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Looking at the very latest reports, it seems that Microsoft’s XBox 360 console is keen that disks not leave the vicinity of its DVD-chopping capability.

The basic technology within an XBox 360 is good. With the advent of process improvements, the core spec gets better and better, while consuming less power and creating less heat. What KitGuru can’t understand is why has Microsoft allowed these poxy manufacturing issues (component choices?  physical assembly?) to give it such a tarnished reputation for quality.

A while back, Gamespot reported that you are almost 2.5 times more likely to get a failure with an XBox 360 than a Playstation 3 – and almost 10 times more likely to have a failure with an XBox 360 than with a Nintendo Wii.

KitGuru’s Quite Sure XBox 360 Disk Scratching Will Get Worse
We will need to wait a couple of months to see, but there’s every chance that this will get worse. While independent reports have stated that Microsoft is able to engage XDisc without any outside influence, given the established disk scratching history we’ve been reading about, all you would need to do in order to massively increase the number of issues, is to vibrate the XBox 360 during use. This is where Microsoft will be relying on its boffins to create a device that requires console-shaking as part of its natural operation. Finally, we back that up with instructions from Microsoft itself for you to jump up and down like a lunatic next to your (potentially flaky) console.

Cue KINECT.

If Microsoft Kinect’s smart new technology doesn’t generate the mother of all spikes in XDisc 360 scratching, we don’t know what will.

JUMP, JUMP, JUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP: You've heard Microsoft's senior executives - now get to it!

UPDATE: We have received many more reports from KitGuru readers about this topic. As a result, we have asked Jonathan Hargreaves for an official reply from Microsoft to the whole “XBox Kills Disks” question as well as “Does Kinect Increase Disk Scratching” and “Who is responsible for replacements”. We’ve asked for a reply by 6th January next year – and will report back to you on what we hear. This story has taken a ton of traffic already and searching for “XBox Kills Disks” on Google gives you over 1 million responses – with KitGuru at position 1 at the time of writing.

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KitGuru says: We are genuinely hoping that the new reports we’re hearing about Microsoft XBox 360 disk scratching is only a random occurance, but we don’t think so. Over the past 20 years, the world has moved toward hard flooring – perfect for transmitting vibration. Watch any group of kids playing Microsoft Game Studio’s Kinect Adventures and you will witness loads of jumping/thumping/bumping. But Microsoft insists that Kinect is for everyone. Cue the adults. Basic physics says Force = Mass x Acceleration. That means the more you weigh and the higher you jump – the harder the vibration through the floor to your nearby XBox 360. For whatever reason, the XBox 360 seems much more prone to vibration-induced technical issues that its counterparts. Please don’t throw your receipts away.

If you have ever suffered from XDisc, let us know. Also, we’re keen to hear from you if you have any legal opinion about damage to 3rd party disks (i.e. NOT from Microsoft Game Studio) which are scratched during normal operation of an XBox 360 during the first year of use. Given the reports available on the web which have covered this subject for many, many years, should that damage be Microsoft’s responsibility – or is it a case of ‘buyer beware’. Let us know your thoughts.

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