Illustration Xbox One by Francesca Mahaney
Despite its problems, the Xbox remains one of the most popular gaming consoles to date. (Illustration by Francesca Mahaney, Pratt Institute)
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Illustration Xbox One by Francesca Mahaney

The Microsoft console had some problems, which resulted in many gamers switching to the competition.

When it comes to online gameplay, players tend to lean toward PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or PC over Xbox One. People, as I have heard numerous times, call the console “trash” without any evidence to back up their statements. I play the Xbox One and find no issues with the console. In fact, I enjoy playing it. I was baffled by the heated discussions over whether PlayStation is better than Xbox One and vice versa. It was only when I thought back to its past issues that I could understand why they’re opposed to playing on Microsoft consoles.

“Red Ring of Death”

Xbox 360, the predecessor of the Xbox One, was a very popular gaming console when it was released in November 2005. My mother bought my brother and I one to share as a joint Christmas gift. However, there was a major malfunction that began to surface months later, known as the “Red Ring of Death.” Many Xbox 360 owners reported their consoles shutting down, refusing to turn on as three or four ringed red lights would flash — hence its name. It was a sign of a general hardware malfunction that couldn’t be fixed and the cause of the Red Ring of Death was hard to pinpoint.

Microsoft test teams had never encountered the issue and were unaware of how to fix it. In later years, it was inferred that the creation of the Xbox 360 was more focused on the design of the console rather than the engineering, trying to create a sleek and appealing appearance as opposed to the original bulky Xbox. Personally, I have never gone through the ordeal myself; I do, however, have a friend that went through six consoles because the “Red Ring of Death” kept reappearing after a couple of months. It was as if it was a daily routine to mail Microsoft in an attempt to resolve the issue.

The Competition: PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii Released

A year after the Xbox One was released, Sony released the PlayStation 3 to keep themselves in line with their competitors. However, the later release date wasn’t an intentional decision. Their production had been delayed because of a minor issue with the laser for the disc reader. The delay gave Microsoft the opportunity to gain a lead on Sony by releasing their console earlier to consumers trying to buy Christmas gifts for their kids.

Nintendo released their console a few days after Sony — a system known as the Wii. The innovative console allowed players to create characters known as Miis and play with them by physically moving along with the controller instead of remaining in a stationary position. The creation of said characters allowed players to be more connected and invested with gameplay that could be done with the entire family. Family game nights at my house consisted of playing Wii Sports to dictate chores for the week. Nintendo, additionally, created the console to be more accessible to those who normally don’t play video games, expanding their appeal to a wider range of consumers.

Microsoft Begins to Fall Behind the Others

The “Red Ring of Death” of the Xbox 360 steered consumers away from Microsoft and moved them toward Nintendo and Sony for their gaming experience. Having a major malfunction with their product reflected poorly on the company itself, creating an image of carelessness. However, the testers didn’t come across the issue with the console during the testing period, which made it difficult to understand why it was happening so frequently. All they could do was take back their flawed consoles and either refund it or send a new one, hoping the problem didn’t happen again. But it wasn’t always a guarantee. Additionally, having to compete with Nintendo’s Wii, which appealed to non-gamers as well as regular gamers, was tough. It was innovative and generalized the term “gamer” to everyone.

Xbox One and Limited Game Selection

Even though games are offered on all platforms, PlayStation 4 games have a wider range than those on Xbox One. Each console, obviously, have games that are exclusive to their brand. Microsoft has the Halo franchise while Sony has God of War. But when you walk into any GameStop, the shelves of Xbox One are smaller than PlayStation 4 and demonstrate a rather limited selection, since most of the cases are copies of one game that won’t sell. Some Xbox 360 games are backwards compatible with Xbox One, but that’s not necessarily a huge draw. When you’re a frequent gamer, it is always nice to see new  games to play rather than playing the same game again and again.

Overview of Analysis

The “Red Ring of Death” incident was a major setback for Microsoft. Having to refund and replace thousands of Xbox 360 consoles was a very worrying sign for consumers. Why buy something with such a major problem? Like my old Xbox 360, not all had the hardware malfunction, but it was as if you threw the dice to find one without it. Additionally, not having the ability to decipher the cause of the problem was also a concerning sign. Being unable to fix the problem or even give a diagnosis made them look almost careless. However, the past of the Xbox 360 shouldn’t follow the Xbox One. I can understand not liking the console because of the lack of selection, but it shouldn’t be associated with the past problems of another console.

Future Hopes for “Project Scarlett”

Microsoft announced at the gaming convention E3 in 2019 that they are releasing a new console called Xbox Series X. They referred to it as Project Scarlett and set a release date of late 2020.. Although I’m excited for the new console, I hope that others can overlook the past Red Ring of Death endeavor of Microsoft. I feel as though the incident shouldn’t follow them as they continue to move forward with newer products; they have learned and are trying to avoid another console catastrophe. People need to learn to give chances to new consoles before judging them as “trash.”

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