Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Microsoft under x-fire

Microsoft finally bowed last Saturday, admitting last Saturday that something could be wrong with the CD-player of the Xbox-360. In the Netherlands after more than 1000 complaints, the television consumer program Kassa (Cash!) took Microsoft on to test and demonstrated that Xbox-360 discs could be damaged.

It had been singing around already for sometime in the gamers’ quarters. But the rumour was every time stemmed by Microsoft by repeating the message to put the Xbox-360 on a stable surface. But after a thorough test shown on TV (see the Dutch language broadcast), it was clear that Microsoft could not maintain that it was only a matter of putting the Xbox-360 in a stable position. During the program the CD player was blamed for the scratches as the lens lacks padding.

The conclusion of the consumer broadcast was difficult to swallow for Microsoft. Having blamed the users themselves for incorrect usage in a broadcast of February 24th, Microsoft now declared that scratches can surface on the discs due to regular usage. Microsoft did not want to react to the findings of the broadcast in particular as it was not part of the test. The company said to have no indication that the problem is a large scale one. People with the problem should contact the company. The player will be inspected and if needed repaired. The company will also inform the users how they can get replacements for the discs.

Looking at Microsoft handling this problem, one can only conclude that Microsoft is in a big fight with Nintendo and does not want to admit that there is a structural problem. Besides they have not taken the people that complained seriously. What should they have done?

Admitting that there was a problem could have been done when the first complaints were heard. At that time they could have seriously supported the complainants by repair and replacement. Microsoft did not do so. Depending on the number of complaints worldwide they could have started a call back of the Xbox-360, just like car companies do, when a serious safety problem occurs.

One can ask of course whether scratches on a disc are a serious safety problem. Of course they are, for gamers can no longer play their favourite game, when scratches appear on their disc. The gamers will get annoyed and will no longer be happy. And then they became a danger in the social traffic.

It still beats me that a company like Microsoft just plays down a consumer problem like this and does not pamper their gamers. They are the audience for the next generation Xbox. Once they get disappointed and switch to Nintendo, Microsoft looses a potential buyer for future game consoles.

Microsoft avoided having to undergo an x-fire during the broadcast. They did not appear, stood back and issues a written statement. This is not exactly the way of handling involved gamers, IMHO.

Blog Posting Number: 726


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