Is Kinect Causing the Red Ring of Death in Older Xbox 360s?

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Well this is strange. The BBC reports that Kinect owners are blaming Microsoft's motion-sensing camera for a spate of Xbox 360 failures.

How many failures? You know, like the Beeb says, "console owners." I counted one quoted by name in the story and two more cited as representative of "online gaming forums."

I have a great deal of respect for the BBC. They're a public service news outfit that somehow manages to be reliably more journalistic and therefore trustworthy than anything you'll find on cable this side of the pond. But this story--currently headlining the Google tech news churn--seems kind of ridiculous on its face. It's an allegation buttressed by a couple quotes plucked for all we know from the ether, and a reference (without a link or a name) to some who-knows-where game forums.

I popped over to NeoGAF, the largest online gaming community I'm familiar with (also the most cynical and I'd wager likely to draw long knives on a company) and you'll find nothing about Kinect failures. You'll also find virtually no one chatting about Kinect.

Frustrated, I dropped the terms 'Kinect' and 'fail' into a search engine with recent date delimiters, but all that turned up were some snarky blog posts about Kinect's hypothetical irrelevance. Where was the BBC getting its information? Surely they weren't making it up?

Back to the BBC story for a second pass, I noticed the writer referring to the "red ring of death" error as symptomatic of the supposedly Kinect-induced failure. That's strange, because Microsoft's essentially eradicated the error, both through its extended warranty swaps of older units, and the new "slim" model, which whatever other errors it might throw up, is physically incapable of exhibiting the trademark triple-red three-quarters.

So I dropped 'Kinect' and 'red ring of death' into a search engine and at last, a hit (and I'm assuming the source of the BBC story). It's a Digital Spy post from December 30th titled "Kinect breaking older Xbox 360 models?"

Well that's certainly different than the BBC's misleading "Kinect blamed for 'red ring of death' Xbox 360 failures."

The Digital Spy story sources the complaints to the official Xbox forums, which under a tech support subcategory do in fact contain threads pertaining to ostensible Kinect-induced red ring of death failures (in original-model systems). The lengthiest, initiated back in mid-November, currently runs 105 posts deep, though most aren't from the afflicted and instead involve users squabbling over the probability Kinect's the culprit.

In any case, it looks pretty tail-wags-dog at this point. The small number claiming a Kinect-fail correlation on the Xbox forums deserve Microsoft's attention, of course, but I'm not sure it's necessary to drag the rest of the world in--or mislead them with vague attention-grabbing headlines--for gripe-leverage just yet.

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