Why I Stay in an Abusive Relationship with My Xbox 360


This is my Xbox, and she died last night. She was only two years old, which sadly, for a 360, is about middle age.

She wasn’t my first that passed. My original system died a slow, painful death, escaping the dreaded Red Ring, but even worse, she went blind. I could hear the screams of enemies dying in Gears of War, but alas, I couldn’t see them. Her eyes had been put out by the gremlins that lurk deep within all Xboxes.

But even though I’ve suffered this pain before, it still hurts just as bad this time around, and actually more so, as it’s my third day with Call of Duty, and I was just starting to learn how to kill more than one person per life.

Thankfully, I know I’m not alone in my pain. Every single friend I have who owns and Xbox has watched theirs pass away at least once, some, more than three times. I had one friend who had his original 360 he had since the first month of its release. “Mine is strong and healthy” he said, “She’ll last forever.” I’ll never forget the sound of his voice when he called me four years later and said, “She’s RROD’ed…and it’s not…under warranty!” I told him everything was going to be OK.

But it wasn’t.

The official console death rate for Xbox 360’s is reportedly 54.2 percent. However, I believe that number without a doubt to be one hundred percent exactly. Why? The other 46%, which I was a part of until last night, are simply consoles who have fended off their gremlins so far. But they’ll fall in the end. They all shall fall.


This one just decided to jump, rather than be eaten from the inside out.

As I sent the text to my PS3 fanboy friend, four simple letters, R. R. O. D., it made him erupt in a fit of joy. “NOW do you agree with me that PS3 is better?” he said. “You HAVE to.” But strangely, I don’t. But why, why is that? What keeps me coming back for more after years of abuse and heartbreak?

Much like I’m not alone in my pain of loss, I’m not alone in my forgiveness either. A mere 10% of Xbox users said that their RROD would keep them from supporting the console in the future, meaning 90% of players who have lost one, two, three Xboxes to the red abyss, say that in the end, they don’t care. And they’ll continue loving her all the same.

It really is remarkable how literally the physical and emotional symptoms of an abusive relationship surface when talking to Xbox owners about why they stay with the system.

“Well, they apologized, and they we’re really good about getting me a new console right away, and they said it would never happen again.”

“Yeah, I mean, those times are bad, but everything else is just so great! I can’t let this one little thing ruin what we have!”

“It was my fault! I should have dusted it more often! This never would have happened if it weren’t for me!”

Also, it should be mentioned that what you’re defending has screwed you over in other ways time and time again. Want to play on the internet? Here’s a $100 wireless adapter and $50 a year in subscription charges. Want to charge your controllers? Here’s $100 worth of AA batteries or a $30 charger and two $10 battery packs. She’s a gold digger AND a heartbreaker.

So if Xbox is such a bitch, why aren’t I not looking elsewhere? Well, I have. And this is what I’ve found.

The Wii is a child, and for a real gamer to be charmed by it feels almost pedophilic. It hasn’t grown up enough to develop any of the features you want in a console (good online play, good graphics, consistently good titles), and for every adult conversation you think you’re having (Twilight Princess, Smash Bros. Brawl), she always brings up some inane collection of minigames that make you want to pull your eyes out. She’s a fun fling for a week or two, but ultimately a toy, a diversion.


New and fun, but after a week you realize there’s not much going on upstairs.

PS3 on the other hand is a dominatrix, whipping you into submission with its supreme processing power that you will RESPECT…or else. 1080p, Blu-ray, and the good stuff don’t come cheap. Yeah, she’ll do all the things your Xbox would do with you (Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto) and even has a few tricks up her sleeve (God of War, Uncharted), but it just doesn’t feel right.

Back when you first had the choice between her and Xbox, she acted like she was all that. Like this wasn’t even a contest. Like the fact that you were even considering such an inferior console was laughable. She thought she was worth her insane price tag. But as millions of people started to pick the girl next door over the pro, she lost a bit of her luster, and once people realized that processing power can actually be a burden, and that blu-ray movies aren’t worth $30, and that Halo 3 and Gears of War result in way more replay time than God of War and Uncharted. By that point? She wasn’t looking so hot anymore.


“What do you mean I look fat in this?”

So yes, even now, as I pull out her hard drive like she’s pulled out my heart time and time again, I will stand by my Xbox. She and I have been through a lot together, and like any couple, we’ve had our ups and downs. But in the end, she’s simply the best, and even though I now have a month to see her again, when I get her back, I know she’ll have been worth the wait.


Someday, I’ll see you again.


Ed. Note Disclaimer: I do not ACTUALLY love my console like a woman, I just took that metaphor and sprinted with it. Perhaps a bit too far.

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  1. I have the same love/hate relationship with my XBOX. I’ve had two RROD and one failed disc drive (not covered under warranty) and now I own a new one (bought used of course cause I just couldn’t bring myself to pay retail for another one). So, by new I mean new style motherboard.

    I also own a PS3, which I do like, but the biggest reason I don’t play more games on it is…poorly designed analog triggers. They took what was an amazingly designed controller (PS2) and just ruined it with the new triggers. They just don’t feel good at all (as your finger always feels like its about to slip off).

    P.S. I love the abusive relationship analogy…so true.

  2. *claps* I’ll be sending this to all my PS3 friends. My Xbox has stayed alive and well ever since I got her a couple of weeks after the release. After hearing so much about the RROD I feel like I’m living in constant fear that one day, my day will come.

  3. It’s funny, I was going to say something similar. I can’t stand the playstation controller. It’s not ergonomical at all. for example, it’s not natural for the two analog sticks to be right next to each other. Furthermore, the analog sticks are dome shaped at the tip whereas the xbox analog sticks are curved in. This allows better thumb movements. The same is true for the triggers.

    On top of bad design, you add a slew of chessy japanese games… it’s over. (I watch anime all the time, but for some reason, japanese games really turn me off. I think it’s a combination of bad game mechanics and poor dialog.)

  4. I suppose I am one of the lucky few. My original 360, bought November ’05, is still going strong. However, like a friend with a terminal disease, I know that one day she will pass on to the next world and I will be left with only the memories of the good times we shared together.

    “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”
    –Leonardo da Vinci

  5. I’m on my 3rd XBox. If it were to break down, I’d just get a 4th.

    @ IcemanD

    The controllers are such a HUGE difference. There’s just something off about the PS3 ones.

  6. There have been no “official” numbers from Microsoft, they will never fess up. That being said I have had 3 RRoD and will have no problem sending in one of my consoles to be fixed. The games and live are just that good.

  7. I’m on xbox #4.

    Ain’t no fling, though. Metaphorically speaking, it’s been like watching my wife slip in and out of a coma… I’ll always wait for her to wake up.

  8. I love my PS3, its my baby. I don’t play it often but if anything happened to it, I’d cry. A lot. I understand how you feel, hope your Baby comes back soon whole and RROD-less for another year XD

  9. This is a fantastic article, but I feel you overlooked another important aspect in this abusive relationship. While you’re going with the metaphor thing, you should mention that a great part of this abusive relationship is due to her hooking you on drugs-that-are-gamer-points. I have a Wii, and I like it fine for some games, but I am always thinking, how much time I “wasted” playing Mario Galaxy when I didn’t even get gamer points! It was a fantastic game, but….NO……POINTS. And I’m not even truly a gamer-point junkie. There is just something strangely satisfying — calming, almost — about that little bloop you hear when you make an achievement that keeps you hooked.

  10. This was brilliant. I love my xbox and I’ve tried to like PS3 but there’s just something a bit… off about it. There’s something about the too clean asian graphics that just don’t strike me as visually entertaining. Mind you, with the games they’ve come out with recently (uncharted 2, demons souls, GOW 3) I am sonsidering buying one… Plus a blu ray player would be nice…

  11. Up until yesterday, I had heard very little of the RROD. Then, yesterday, my Xbox of only a year and half got it…about five minutes into COD:MW2..and now I come across this.

    Although I’m still under warranty, I’ve been pretty tempted to just buy a new Arcade and just sell my old one once it’s been fixed..I’ve been looking forward to MW2 for farrr too long to have to wait another month.

  12. I don’t know, as I know you I think you would give up a lot of things–like a woman–before you would give up your Xbox. Nonetheless, this article kicked ass, but also has frightened me because I thought my third Xbox would last longer than the first 2.
    PS3 blows, and our “Microphobic” friend knows it.

  13. I live in Brazil the price of a Xbox 360 or PS3 it would be equal to 850 DOLLARS, yep no f****kin way for me to have one, But i spend 500 Dollars here to have a PC that can play the same game as A xbox360 So ……wait i cant play ff13 on a PC….. I hate my country with all my strenghts!

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