Peter Moore on Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death: "It Was Sickening... We Couldn't Figure it Out"

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Peter Moore on Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death: "It Was Sickening... We Couldn't Figure it Out"

Post  KENT HAMMER on Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:19 pm

Former Xbox boss Peter Moore has revealed the inside story on the Red Ring of Death debacle that plagued Xbox 360 owners and cost Microsoft $1.15 billion.

Speaking to IGN, Moore recounted the moment he and Microsoft discovered that there was a major manufacturing problem with the console and detailed the reactions within the company.

"We were seeing failure rates and starting to get reports through customer service," said Moore of the period shortly after Xbox 360’s launch in 2005. "This was a thing where we couldn't actually figure out what was going on.

"We knew we had a problem. I remember going to Robbie Bach, my boss, and saying: ‘I think we could have a billion dollar problem here’. As we started to do the analysis of what was going on, we were getting the defectors in, it was a challenging problem for our engineers, and we couldn't quite figure out what it was. We knew it was heat related. There were all kinds of fixes. I remember people putting wet towels around the box."

Eventually the problem became too large to ignore and Moore sat down with a financial team to work out how much it was going to cost the company to fix. The number they came up with was $1.15b. Moore’s next job was to break the news to Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer.

"I calculated with my finance team, Dennis Durkin, Doug Ralphs... $1.15bn, right out there,” said Moore. “I always remember $240m of that was FedEx. Their stock must have gone through the roof for the next two weeks.

"And, I am trembling sat in front of Steve, who I love to death, but he can be an intimidating human being. Steve said: 'Okay, talk me through this.' I said: 'If we don't do this, this brand is dead. This is a Tylenol moment*.'"

"Steve looked at me and said: 'What have we got to do?' I said: 'We've got to take them all back, and we've got to do this in a first class way,' because when you take a console away from a gamer, and you're going to spend three weeks fixing it... so we've got to FedEx this all the way. We've got to FedEx this all the way. We've got to overnight it back in two.

"He said: 'What's it going to cost?'” continued Moore. “I remember taking a deep breath, looking at Robbie, and saying: 'We think it's $1.15bn, Steve.' He said: 'Do it.' There was no hesitation. I'm thinking, I'm about to crater Microsoft's stock. Actually, nothing moved."

"I'll never forget that moment," said Moore. "If you're an Xbox gamer, you can thank Steve Ballmer for not even hesitating. Now, we were a wealthy company who could afford to do that, but not even hesitating because the brand was more important.

"If we hadn't made that decision there and then, and tried to fudge over this problem, then the Xbox brand and Xbox One wouldn't exist today."

Looking back at the period, Moore said, "It was sickening because.. I was doing a lot of interviews. It's not like today with social media, which would have been horrific. We were trying to figure out… we couldn't figure it out."

Moore said that one theory about the cause of the problem was the solder, which had been changed to lead-free in order to meet European Standards. According to this theory, the heat from the Xbox 360’s GPU dried out some of the solder, leading to Red Rings of Death.

However, when Moore left Microsoft for EA in July 2007, the company still hadn’t figured out the root of the problem.

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Re: Peter Moore on Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death: "It Was Sickening... We Couldn't Figure it Out"

Post  Tricky34 on Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:30 pm

An interesting read. I bet it was an ass clenching moment when he had to tell his boss how much it was going to cost them.

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Re: Peter Moore on Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death: "It Was Sickening... We Couldn't Figure it Out"

Post  Sedgendary on Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:43 pm

I know the Xbox One's size is a direct result of this. Does make me wonder how much of media focus was Balmer forcing it on them due to the fact he bailed them out of this issue.

I know there is a sizeable section of the Microsoft Board that would like to see Xbox separated from Microsoft proper as it is not a massively profitable portion of the company and is a far cry from its business roots
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