The Adam Sloman column: The death of an Xbox 360

Adam becomes the latest to be hit by the red ring of death on the Xbox 360. And he's outside of his warranty period, too...

The Xbox 360 Arcade Edition

A famous Captain once said ‘How we deal with life ‘. Well I’m pretty sure James T Kirk never had to deal with the red ring of death.

Well, I suppose I ought to begin by saying ‘Hello’ and explaining who I am, and why I’m here, filling up the space on your monitor. I’m Adam, I’m 27, I’m married, have a Jack Russell terrier, and for the last 26 years and six months, I have been and always shall be somewhat of a geek. From Star Trek to video games, Ulysses 31 to Battlestar Galactica, I’ve always enjoyed the sorts of things that have doubtless brought you to this fine website. So I’ll be here, every now and again with a little column that hopefully will make you laugh, make you think and occasionally make you question the bigger things in life, why are we here? Where did we come from? Where is that smell coming from? So, with the formalities over, I hope you enjoy my first column, about something I’m sure many of you have experienced.

The Death of an Xbox.

I never thought it would happen to me again. You see I was there at the beginning, launch day, early adopter, that’s me. I paid full whack and ran home like an excited school boy, Project Gotham Racing 3 in hand, ready to enter ‘the next generation’. I ignored the reports as 360’s around the world fell like flies. I’ll admit I even smirked a little when a friends console bit the dust, and then, just after three months, my machine died. It became the world’s most expensive paperweight.

Ad – content continues below

I returned it to the shop and was given a new machine and told that the quirks in the early models were history; I had no need to worry. Well, it wasn’t going to happen again, this time things were going to be different, I was going to make sure of that. I’d taken all the precautions, I’d been careful. I bought the extra cooling fans for her. Kept her horizontal and in an open area. I even cleaned those fans once a month. She was the best cared for Xbox 360 this side of Chepstow and then all of sudden, during some Guitar Hero, she died. The Red Ring of Death. I couldn’t believe it.

I turned her off and waited. No good, it seemed terminal. Well, that’s OK, Microsoft has my back. I’m a 360 owner and they love me. A quick call to Uncle Bill will have this straightened right out. Or not. You see, it turns out my Xbox 360 is a tad over three years old, and as such, Microsoft don’t want to know. Now, permit me to make an analogy.

Imagine you’ve bought a car, a car that’s supposed to be one of the better ones available. You’ve owned it for three years, cared for it, done everything the manufacturer suggests to maintain it and never once tinkered with it. You’re off to work one day, when without warning a red light comes on and the car will never work again. You’d think the manufacturer would be keen to ensure that A) You’re a happy customer and B) Their product is capable of lasting longer than three years. Microsoft, one of the biggest corporations on Earth, doesn’t seem interested in either.

I called the MS helpline, where a woman, with a voice so sugary sweet that it was enough to turn me diabetic, told me that for almost £90 I could have my machine repaired and they’d even be good enough to give me a year’s warranty! Aren’t I lucky! Now if I can buy a new machine, with three years warranty, for a little over £150, why would I have it repaired? Seems to me Microsoft is keen to discourage owners of older machines from getting them repaired.

So I was decidedly miffed. I’m also fortunate enough to own a PS3, which as far as I am aware, has had no such problems with reliability. I honestly considered chucking the whole lot on eBay and putting the money into games for my other systems.

I’d love someone from Microsoft to explain to me why so many 360’s have died, I simply don’t understand how a company the size of Microsoft can build something with such poor reliability. Someone knows why they don’t last, and probably how to fix it, but I think they’re such a vast company that they really don’t care. They know that if the likes of you and I want to play Halo 3, Gears of War etc. we have no choice but to take the chance. Hey, if it lasts three years, we’ve had our money’s worth right?

Ad – content continues below

Well no, actually. I still have my very first ZX Spectrum, which is 20 years old and works perfectly. Ditto my Mega Drive. Ditto my SNES. Ditto my Saturn. Ditto my Dreamcast. I think you get my point. Without straying into fan-boy territory, I’ve been a keen supporter of the 360, I think it’s a great all-rounder with some cracking games, but after my recent dealings with Microsoft I was ready to pack it all in and walk away.

But I didn’t. I gave in. I bought an Elite. Adam Sloman 0 – Bill Gates 1. You win this round, Microsoft…