According to a study of over 5,000 video game players, Microsoft's Xbox 360 console experiences severe hardware failures almost 55 percent of the time, far more than competing consoles from Nintendo and Sony. Even more alarming, of the Xbox 360 consoles that are repaired by Microsoft and returned to their owners, over 41 percent experience another severe hardware failure requiring yet another repair.

The study, which was performed by Game Informer magazine, reveals an astonishing 54.2 percent failure rate for Microsoft's bug-plagued console, which was at the center of a $1.1 billion warranty recall last year. The Nintendo Wii, with a 6.8 percent failure rate, and the Sony PlayStation 3, at 10.6 percent, are demonstrably more reliable.

Of course, as most Xbox 360 owners would attest, the Game Informer survey results are immediately suspicious. After all, it seems like virtually every single Xbox 360 console has failed at some point.

Surprisingly, bad experiences with Xbox 360 reliability have not had an effect on their beleaguered owners: Only 3.8 percent of Xbox 360 users said they'd never buy another Microsoft console because of these issues. And 36.4 percent of failed Xbox 360 owners actually purchased a second Xbox 360. (Perhaps as a backup.)

As with its loyal users, Microsoft stands behind its console. Way, way behind, apparently, seeing as respondents also rated the software giant's support system as being far worse than that of the competitors. Only 37.7 percent found Microsoft's customer service "very helpful." And while Microsoft often takes as long as a month to return a busted Xbox 360 console, Nintendo and Sony usually turn around failed consoles in one to two weeks.

"Microsoft stands behind the Xbox 360 as a superior entertainment console with one of the best warranties in the industry," a Microsoft spokesperson noted in a response to this damning survey. "We are constantly improving the design, manufacture and performance of the console through extensive testing of potential sources of any problems. Xbox 360 is pleased to maintain the title of 'most played console' and the vast majority of Xbox 360 customers have enjoyed a terrific gaming and entertainment experience since their first day, and continue to, day in and day out."

In addition to being the "most played console," however, the Xbox 360 is also apparently the "most often repaired console" and the "most often repaired for a second time" console. Perhaps the heavy usage is contributing to the issues. According to an unrelated survey of video game players, Xbox 360 users actively play on the console about five times as often as do Wii owners.

\[Disclaimer: I've had at least 8 Xbox 360s come through my home since 2005, and of them at least 6 have experienced a "Red Ring of Death" hardware failure, at least one of them twice. The only two that haven't died—the only two that are left—were purchased in the last year. Needless to say, I feel like it's only a matter of time. And yet, I'd buy a new Xbox 360 in a heartbeat, so you can add me to that odd, paradoxical list of Xbox 360 owners who keep going back for more punishment. There's a psychological study there for the taking, believe me.\]

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