Microsoft Knew About Xbox 360 Disc Scratching Before Launch

Microsoft Knew About Xbox 360 Disc Scratching Before Launch

Microsoft is currently facing several lawsuits claiming that Xbox 360's DVD drive causes damage and scratches to inserted discs when moved. The company's position got weaker today as court documents revealed that it already knew about the problem well before the console's launch.

"When we first discovered the problem in September or October (2005), when we got a first report of disc movement, we knew this is what's causing the problem," Microsoft program manager Hiroo Umeno told the court. Xbox 360 was released a month or 2 later, in November 2008.

Microsoft's testing revealed that when the console is tilted, discs inside become "unchucked" and collide with the drive's pickup unit, causing damage and scratches.

Microsoft's engineers considered three solutions. The first solution was decreasing the drive's reading speed, but it was refused because it would increase game loading time. The second solution was also dismissed because it interfered with the drive's opening and closing mechanism. The third solution, installing small bumpers, was technically alright, but it was too expensive. It would have cost between $35 million and $75 million, and thus it was refused.

Instead, Microsoft opted to adding the following section the product's manual: "Remove discs before moving the console or tilting it between the horizontal and vertical positions." Another warning was also affixed to the Xbox 360's disc drive later.

Microsoft also initiated an Xbox 360 disc replacement program that sends out new discs to customers if their discs are damaged for any reason. The program only applies to Microsoft titles and costs $20 per disc.

An internal Microsoft email, quoted in court, revealed that Microsoft's employee considered those actions to be insufficient.