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Xbox’s Red Ring of Death: Microsoft’s $1.15 Billion Problem



Anyone who has ever placed a finger on an Xbox 360 in the last sixteen years will know of the infamous red ring of death. But while the majority of us would simply resort to giving it the old dust-and-plead treatment, others would slide into its components and uncover its exact cause of, well — death. Little did they know, of course, was that the problem ran a lot deeper than loose wires and faulty hard drives.

During the fifth episode of the documentary Power On: The Story of Xbox, former head of hardware at Xbox, Todd Holmdahl, touched base on the problems with the Xbox 360 — mainly surrounding the red ring of death — which had caused quite the commotion between gamers and, of course, Xbox. However, according to Holmdahl, the issue came about when consoles would go from hot to cold too fast, causing connectors within the hardware to break and shut the system down.

“All these people loved playing video games, so they would turn this thing on and then off, and when it would turn on and off, you get all sorts of stresses,” Holmdahl confirmed.

Xbox took quite a tumble thanks to the red ring of death.

“Look at all those Xbox’s…”

Way back in 2005, right around the time Xbox shed light on the issue, players were told that their broken consoles could be replaced, free of charge. But unfortunately for Xbox, this meant having a graveyard of broken shells and red rings. And to their surprise, it also meant having to fork out more replacements than they could dare fathom, resulting in an eventual decline in assets.

“By the time we looked at the cost of repairs, the lost sales that we factored in, we had a $1.15 billion problem,” former Xbox boss Peter Moore admitted.

Luckily for Xbox, the brand was eventually funded by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, meaning the kingdom was soon resurrected and given a second chance at life. And as for the future of Xbox, well — let’s just say it’s been on the rise ever since. And as for the red ring of death, well, I think most people can probably laugh about it these days. Just a kink in the road.

So, let’s talk about it. How many times did you face the red ring of death? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.

Jord is Team Leader for As well as covering breaking news stories and blabbering on in his daily listicles, he also contributes to sites such as Vocal, Collider, as well as his anthology of self-published novels.