As painfully illustrated in the above video with me and Michael, my XBOX 360 died on me yesterday. I had just booted up Call of Duty 4, when the screen froze. I turned off the XBOX, then tried booting up the game again with the same result. So I unplugged the console, waited a few minutes, plugged it back in and powered it on when, after the XBOX logo came up, the screen froze and the dreaded Red Ring of Death started flashing around the power button on the face of the machine, which basically meant the console was now an extremely large, extremely heavy (and expensive) paperweight. This is the fourth 360 I’ve had to replace in the two years since I bought my first one. This last one survived 15 months, so I figured I finally got a “good one” that wasn’t going to break down. Obviously, I was wrong.

Now, I understand game consoles malfunction sometimes (like many, I had to blow in my NES cartridges to get them to work, and turn my Playstation upside down so it wouldn’t overheat), but really, having to replace three consoles due to hardware failure is ridiculous. The failure rate has to be way higher than the rumored 16% (or I, and many others, are just extremely unlucky). That Microsoft has spent over a billion dollars to extend the warranty of the XBOX 360 from one to three years, at least says they recognize the problem, but, I know it’s a complicated (maybe impossible?) process, but I think it’s time they just completely redesign the console to get it to function properly.

Although I rarely buy extended warranties, after returning my second 360, I luckily bought one from Best Buy, so I just took the dead console down yesterday and exchanged it for a new one, also upgrading it to an XBOX 360 Elite in the process, which has a larger hard drive, HDMI output and (although not all of them have it) a smaller chip which runs cooler, which is rumored to lower the failure rate of the 360 by a few points, but not to an “acceptable” degree – say 3%, like the failure rate of the Wii and Playstation 3.

If the XBOX 360 didn’t have such great games and a great online system, I would’ve given up on it by the 2nd return. Unfortunately, it has a great library of exclusive games (Bioshock, Mass Effect) and games that just run better on it than the competition (The Orange Box, Lost Planet) which makes it hard to give up on. It’s getting harder and harder to maintain my love for the system though, and if the Playstation 3 catches up in quality titles and online features, I wouldn’t have any problem buying more games for it, and relegating the 360 to 1st party exclusives only.