Top 10 Biggest Xbox Fails Of All Time

You have to spare a sympathetic thought for Microsoft at the moment. Wait! Don’t leave an enraged comment just yet and hear me out.

Microsoft screwed up in a big way with the Xbox One, running quite possible the worst console marketing campaign in history and showing a brutal disregard for gamers in their pitch. But they’ve adapted and they’ve listened, making an unprecedented number of post-launch changes to their existing ethos that suggest they’re really trying to make amends; backwards compatibility, streaming between Windows and Xbox, and bolstered support for indie games among other things. Yet unforgiving gamers that we are, we’re just having none of it.

10. External HD-DVD Player For The Xbox 360

One of the things that gave the Xbox 360 the edge at the start of the last-gen console war was the fact that it came in at a cheaper price than the PS3. This was partly because Microsoft was selling Xbox 360s without Wi-Fi cards, decent hard drives or access to online gaming, but also because they didn’t include an in-built video disc player. You had to splash out $200 on an official external HD DVD player instead.


You may vaguely remember HD DVD in the same way that you remember Betamax cassettes if you’re an old-timer, or UMDs if you’re a newer-timer. It was the optical video disc format supported by Toshiba and Microsoft – whose HDi implementation was used for the menus and interactive elements of the discs – and the main rival to Blu-ray, which emerged around the same time.

HD DVD was a slightly inferior format to Blu-ray, and its cause wasn’t helped by the fact that it wasn’t built into the Xbox 360, while the integrated Blu-ray player on the PS3 is essentially what shot the Blu-ray format to fame. HD DVD was all but redundant by 2008, just a couple of years into the X360’s eight-year lifespan, while Blu-ray went on to flourish. This was almost certainly one of the reasons that the console war swung in the PS3’s favour in the later stages.

9. Xbox One As A TV-streaming device

Never in the history of video games has a PR campaign for a console been so supremely botched as that of the Xbox One. It was tragic, it was comical, it was unbelievable. The whole mess was perhaps best exemplified by Microsoft’s fixation on making the Xbox One a device for ‘everyone’, which entailed presenting it as a TV-streaming device rather than, y’know, a games console.


Getting extremely carried away with the fact that games consoles were beginning to double as pretty nifty media centers, Microsoft talked way more about the Xbox One’s ambitions in the TV-streaming market than it did about games. They babbled on about how people would be able to ‘interact’ with their favourite TV shows using the Kinect (because every loves the Kinect, right?), watch shows while talking to people on Skype, or check their fantasy sports team standings while watching a match. In their attempt to make the Xbox One more appealing to ‘everyone’, Microsoft not only failed to do so but also alienated their core demographic – gamers – in the process.

8. Microsoft Kinect

Sneaking a look over at the runaway success of the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft can’t be blamed for thinking to themselves “We can do that”. So while Sony went off and made the light-up dildo that was the Move controller, Microsoft went for something a bit more ambitious – and infuriating – in the form of the Kinect.


The idea of a motion controller in which you didn’t actually need a controller was kind of neat, until gamers realised that this meant they had to get up off their asses and move their arms around like a low-level mime artist, or flap them manically like a skydiver whose parachute failed to open. It utilised advanced camera sensors, a microphone, and plenty of other pricey tech (to the tune of $150), but it just didn’t know what to do with them.

Before anyone actually realised they didn’t want the Kinect, 8 million of the devices were sold within its first two months of release. So far so good, until it became clear that the only games being released for it were family games and fitness trainers that felt like knock-offs of equivalent, more established games on the Nintendo Wii.

7. Xbox One Price/Bundled Kinect

When Microsoft announced that it was selling every single Xbox One console with a Kinect included, you could almost laugh it off as a perverse joke. Not only did this raise the price of the Xbox One to $100 more than the PS4, but there was a good chance that you already owned the damn thing and would now have to buy it again.


The Kinect was pretty much the bogeyman of the Xbox One, with its all-seeing eye and all-hearing mic looming over the console like some spectre scaring everyone away from buying the console. It could be a bedtime tale told by Sony to people considering buying the Xbox One ; “Don’t buy the Xbox One, otherwise the Kinect will rip you off and watch you while you sleep”.

Thankfully, Microsoft seems to be getting over its severe case of brainfart and has recently unbundled the Kinect from the Xbox One. But is it too little, too late to turn the tide in this console war?

6. Xbox SmartGlass

Come on, rack your brain and try really hard to remember what SmartGlass is. After all, it was only released back in 2012, still technically exists, and continues to be supported by Microsoft.


No luck? Understandable. SmartGlass is a companion app for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, which uses your smartphone or tablet as a second screen for an extremely limited number of games and TV shows. It’s not technically the worst idea in the world, but if the Wii U proved anything it’s that people like to keep their eyes glued to the main screen when gaming.

All the (few) games that implemented SmartGlass did so in a half-assed way, like Halo 4 letting you look at match stats, or the Game of Thrones app which let you look at information about the show while, erm, you’re watching the show. Yes, there’s a definite flaw in logic there…

5. Xbox 360 Without Hard Drives, Wi-Fi Or Online Access

The basic ‘Core’ models of the Xbox 360 were cheap upon release. Very cheap. At a paltry $300, it felt like a steal to gamers, until they actually looked at what was contained inside.

The Core version of the Xbox 360 came without a hard drive (presumably gamers at the time still thought that this wouldn’t be an issue, having been used to memory cards until that point), no Wi-Fi, and of course no access to online gaming unless you paid for an Xbox Live subscription. It also came with a wired controller rather than a flashy new wireless one, and no new-gen video disc player (but hey, an external HD-DVD one would only set you back $200!).

Paying for these mostly-essential extras would add at least another $150 to the Xbox 360 price, and the majority of gamers didn’t realise that their Core consoles to be virtually unusable without things like hard drives and an online subscription.

4. Rare’s Ruin

Rare was the golden child of the fifth console generation. Its N64 roster was legendary, and helped propel the console to historical greatness despite its technical defeat to the PS1 in its console war.

With a games catalogue including the likes of Goldeneye 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and the entire Donkey Kong Country series, plenty of N64 fans made the jump to the Xbox 360 after Microsoft announced that it had bought Rare out. Expectations were high that Rare had a bright future on the Xbox 360.

But it was not to be. Rather than continuing to support Rare and help them evolve, Microsoft assigned them to HD remasters or remakes of classic games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Banjo-Tooie and Perfect Dark. While the games were fine, fans were left wondering when they’d see a true new Rare game on Microsoft’s console. The best we got out of Rare in their X360 tenure was Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts – an OK-ish platformer that wasn’t nearly as memorable as its predecessors.

3. Always-On Internet, Mic and Kinect

With the Snowden revelations about government surveillance seemingly proving that all those crackpot theories about our governments were correct, it wasn’t a great call by Microsoft to announce that the Xbox One was going to require an always-on internet connection, and monitor you with its always-on Kinect camera and mic.

The whole idea not only felt creepy and paranoia-inducing, but outright authoritarian. As a clunky means of DRM, if players were offline for longer than 24 hours, then crucial features such as your cloud-dependant saved games would be locked down until you reconnected. If you logged in on your account on someone else’s console, then you’d get locked out of any games associated with that account after an hour of being offline (or logged out of your account). It felt very messy, and overbearing.

2. Xbox 360 As A Disc Shredder

It should be some consolation to the Xbox One that it’s not responsible for what’s undoubtedly the worst thing Microsoft have ever done. In a bid to outrace Sony and their PlayStation 3 to the market, Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in an unfinished and stable state.

Early Xbox 360 models were plagued by fatal problems, among them the disc-scratching fiasco, where it was found that many X360 DVD drives weren’t properly designed to keep game discs in place, so if you stood your console in an upright position (as was the rage since the PS2 days), there was a good chance your disc would come out looking like you’d used it as a dog frisbee; on the bright side, once this happened you genuinely could use it as a dog frisbee, so at least there’d be some use for your ruined $60 copy of Gears of War.

But there was an even bigger problem plaguing the Xbox 360. Something… worse. Something… redder.

1. The Red Ring Of Death

The Red Ring of Death – sounds terrifying, right? In the first production run of Xbox 360 consoles, huge numbers of gamers (between 23% and over 50%, depending on which survey you looked at) reported their X360 seizing up, with the only sign of life from the console coming in the ominous form of the power button flashing red.

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It’s now common knowledge that this dreaded light signifies that your X360 is finished, toasted, fried. But hey, at least that meant you’d get a new model that hopefully didn’t double up as a DVD shredder. Also, wasn’t it thoughtful of Microsoft to build a light into the console that specifically signalled that your console is dead? It’s almost like they knew it was going to happen all along!

While it’s hard to quantify just how damaging this event was to the Xbox’s reputation, you have to suspect that this could’ve had just as much to do with with the Xbox One’s poor sales as its catastrophic PR campaign.

#Top 10 Biggest Xbox Fails Of All Time