New Firmware Update Bricks Old 360s, Microsoft Offers Free Replacements

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News Posted: Thu, May 19 2011 1:34 PM
Microsoft recently released a firmware update for the XBox 360, but has since found that it prevents a handful of older consoles from running disc-based games. (XBox Live Arcade downloads are presumably unaffected). The company states:  "Following a recent update to our system software, we have become aware of an issue that is preventing a
very small number of Xbox 360 owners from playing retail game discs. This issue manifests itself a as a unique 'disc unreadable' or 'disc unsupported' error on the screen. We are also able to detect this issue over Xbox Live and are proactively reaching out to customers that may be impacted to replace their console."

MS hasn't revealed details on which XBox 360's are affected, but we're betting the problem is being caused by a specific optical drive model. The XBox has included drives built by a number of manufacturers. Even within a single product generation, not all models have the same brand optical drive. Currently there's no information on whether or not the issue is confined to a single type of XBox systems (original Xbox's that suffered from the RROD, Arcades, Elites, etc).

Those lucky enough to be impacted will receive a free 250GB XBox 360 S (currently priced at $299) and a year of free XBox Live. The update in question adds support for Microsoft's new XGD3 disc format. The new standard changes how data is stored on XBox dual-layer DVDs. Currently, only 6.8GB of the 7.95GB of storage on a disc (85 percent) is available for a game. The remaining 1.15GB is reserved for DVD video and anti-piracy measures.

The XGD3 standard removes that partition, thereby increasing the amount of storage space available by ~ 1GB. The anti-piracy measures aren't gone, but Microsoft has evidently found a way to store them differently. According to XBox firmware hacker Commodore4eva, the new discs are part of Microsoft's anti-piracy offensive. C4eva weighed in with the following when asked about XDGA3:  "MS will introduce xgd3 – this will add more ap checks, cvi (content integerity) checks, increase the disc size and adds a new layer for protection issues – all in the 20500 sdk! bring it on!"

Indeed. Image quality between the XBox 360 and PS3 varies depending on the game, but there have been some titles that looked markedly better on the Sony system due to the inherent limitations of the XBox 360's optical storage capacity. The new format won't erase that difference, but it should give XBox 360 developers more room to include better textures and more detailed geometric meshes.
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acarzt replied on Thu, May 19 2011 2:08 PM

"Indeed. Image quality between the XBox 360 and PS3 varies depending on the game, but there have been some titles that looked markedly better on the Sony system due to the inherent limitations of the XBox 360's optical storage capacity"

The reverse is very often true as well. Looking at game reviews across consoles, very often games run better on the 360. There are very few excepetions to this. One is Final Fantasy 13, which is by far better on the PS3. I think that is because FFXIII was originally supposed to be a PS3 only title and got a poor and rushed translation to the Xbox 360.

Most games that were designed with both systems in mind, tend to run smoother and better on the Xbox 360.

I am not a fanboy either, I have both systems, and I actually use my PS3 far more often, just stating the facts.

Back on topic tho... My guess is that this new firmware is bricking the old 360s with the drives in them that were able to play bootleg copies of games. If you got caught hacking them, they would kill you live acount and I think they would brick the drive if I remember correctly... Anyway... I think that's the problem.

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HHGrrl replied on Thu, May 19 2011 7:54 PM

Hmm...wonder if I'll be "lucky" enough to have an affected model....guess I'll have to find out!

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realneil replied on Thu, May 19 2011 7:56 PM

It's good that they've offered a replacement for the bricked 360's. (And that it's free too)

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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Good to know , but I'm more of a PS3 I use it for my Blue Ray Movies, it's flawless.

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