Microsoft Knew Xbox 360 Would Scratch Discs

Did nothing to fix the issues.

As if the Red Ring of Death debacle, which Microsoft knew about but did nothing to prevent wasn’t enough, information revealed as part of a class-action lawsuit suggests that Microsoft was aware of another problem, too, and, again, did nothing to fix it before the console’s launch. The problem in question relates to the widely-reported scratching of Xbox 360 games discs by the diode inside the consoles’ disc drive.

The motion, posted by Seattle PI, details that Microsoft was fully aware that tilting the Xbox 360 during operation would cause the scratching of discs within the system, rendering them unusable. According to Hiroo Umeno, a program manager at Microsoft, “This is… information that we as a team, optical disc drive team, knew about. When we first discovered the problem in September or October, when we got a first report of disc movement, we knew this is what’s causing the problem.”

Supposedly three solutions were proposed by Microsoft which could solve the problem, all of which were rejected. The first would be to increase the magnetic force used to hold the disc level, which was turned down as it would interfere with the tray loading mechanism. The second, to slow disc rotation rejected as it would lead to noticeably longer loading times interfering with gameplay experience.

The third and, arguably most reasonable would be to install “bumpers” which would cushion the disc if it came unaligned, negating the effect. The latter proposal was considered too expensive; an email between Microsoft’s Xbox Escalations Group Senior Group Manager, Douglas Park, and Umeno suggested a price tag of roughly “$35M to $75M” (£23 to £50 million) to make the proposed changes.

Some 55,000 complaints have been received by Microsoft related to scratched discs. In Microsoft’s defence, the Xbox 360 user manual and disc drive tray both have warnings advising DVDs be removed from the drive before repositioning the console.

That said, as bad as it may sound for Microsoft to launch a console with a known problem, I don’t consider this a major one. I can’t really see why anyone would be moving their console between upright and horizontal while in operation. Still who am I to question the sue-happy antics of those crazy Americans?

Any other problems you knew about but didn’t think were worth fixing you’d like to tell us about, Microsoft?

Seattle PI.
Motion (PDF).

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor