Former president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, Robbie Bach, has attributed to the relative success of the Xbox 360 to the mismanagement of the PS2 to PS3 transition by Sony.
Of the various electronic devices that Microsoft has released, the Xbox 360 stands out as perhaps their most successful device. It has managed to be the best selling home-based console for 16 month straight in the United States, and is neck and neck in worldwide sales with rival Sony's PlayStation 3.
While the Wii still remains the most popular console of this generation, and the Xbox 360 went on sale a full year before either of its competitors, Microsoft's success still cannot be doubted. Coming from the previous generation where Sony's PlayStation 2 had a 70% market domination, nobody really expected Microsoft, a relative newcomer to the video game scene, or a "startup" as Bach jokingly refers to, to be able to get anywhere near the PS2's successor, the PS3. And Bach was too surprised at how badly he felt Sony managed the PS2 to PS3 transition.
"They mismanaged their 70 percent market share," Bach explains. "The transition to PlayStation 3 was really, really bad. And really hard. They mismanaged their partners, they mismanaged their cost structure. They made their next platform so complicated that developers couldn't develop for it."
Bach also says the Xbox 360's success owes much to the support given to the console by game developers such as Activision and Electronic Arts. "It turned out we were able to convince retailers and publishers like Activision, Electronic Arts and others, that it was a good thing for Microsoft to be successful, because if we were not successful, the only game in town was Sony. Being dependent on somebody else was bad for them, and so they supported us disproportionately to what they should have, mathematically," Bach added.
But despite the intentional, and unintentional, helping hands, Microsoft still could have nearly made a mess of it all. Bach describes the infamous Xbox 360 Red Rings of Death (RRoD) hardware fault as "the most painful thing in my life", which is estimated to have cost the Redmond company $1 billion in terms of warranty extensions. The RRoD fault occurs due to an overheating issue, and one of the most notable symptoms of the fault, other than a non-working console, was the dreaded red LED lights shown on the console, forming a red ring.