By Michael Thompson | Published: December 15, 2008 – 02:00PM CT
Even though a vast number of gamers own and love their Xbox 360 systems, they are often imperfect machines prone to a multitude of problems like the oft-encountered Red Ring of Death. A problem that has received less media attention is the issue of game discs being scratched by the console when moved or reoriented while in use. According to a motion that seeks to establish class action status for owners of 360s with defective disc drives, Microsoft knew about this problem before the console was launched in 2005.
The motion contains testimony from program manager Hiroo Umeno, which claims that the manufacturer was well aware of the damage that could be caused to discs when players repositioned their consoles. "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."
There are also allegations that the company considered and rejected three possible solutions to this issue before the console was released: the first solution would have increased the magnetic force of the disc holder was rejected because, "it would allegedly interfere with the mechanism that opened and closed the disc tray,"; the second would have required slowing disc rotation speed to 8x, but was ruled against because it would have apparently increased loading times; the final solution would have involved installing soft patches called "bumpers" (routinely used in other consumer optical disc drives), but was deemed too costly to implement at $0.50 per console.
According to the documentation within the motion, Microsoft had registered roughly 55,000 complaints from consumers about this issue as of April 30, 2008. Subsequently, the company has instituted a replacement plan, but it only replaces Microsoft games and requires a $20 fee to do so.