It’s Friday so it must be time for some news and rants:

Power of 3(60)

According to former EB and Best Buy employees, the 360 failure rate is about 33%.

One of the most sought after stories in the gaming world is the true 360 failure rate. Microsoft originally claiming the rate to stand between 3% – 5%, later backed off percentages, pointing to “its excellent customer service.” While the entire gaming world knows that 360 failure rates are excessively high, beyond the fan polls, random estimates and bitching on message boards, no clear-cut number has ever emerged. But for the journalist who breaks the story, he (or she) becomes the Woodward or Bernstein (more likely Bernstein because Woodward is way too good looking) of the gaming community.

While the story was far from the smoking gun of an internal Microsoft memo, this was another crack in Microsoft’s very hot, don’t-store-in-an-enclosed-place armor.

However, that’s not the big story of the week. Late Thursday, Microsoft issued a press-release announcing the extension of 360 warranties to three years. In addition to the extension, Microsoft will be refund all repair costs for 360s suffering the wrath of the three rings. Before you start throwing the ticker-tape around the ole cubical, the extension only applies to issues involving the three rings.

While I was initially surprised, it’s an understandable move by Microsoft. With lower than expected sales (3%), a rumored PS3 price-cut and potential class-actions suits staring Microsoft in the face, this allows potential consumers to be confident in a 360 purchase and appeases the growing number of angry 360 owners. As for the cost of the extended warranty and refunds, a little over one billion dollars. Yeah, a billion.

You can’t judge me, you don’t even know me

Punching bag Phil Harrison, failing to scar Sony’s public relations in the past few months, decided to re-enter the game by giving an interview to Game Informer. During the interview, Harrison warned against “judg[ing] any system by its launch lineup.” He then added, “well, make that its lineup through eight months. Wait, when does God of War III come out? Really? That’s a long time from now. How about I just let you know when you can start judging.”

Later in the interview Harrison, deciding that the hole wasn’t deep enough, pointed out that while he’s only in charge of first-party content and not third-party exclusives (which amounts to three or four titles at this point), Sony’s main concern is to bring gamers the best experience for their system. Poor Phil. Being in charge of first-party content must be very boring. I can imagine him sitting in his office with only a digital clock counting down to the Home launch.

Gaming . . . in space

NASA is considering working with game developers to design a 3D moon landing simulator, which is perfect because NASA has been faking moon landings since 1969.

Hopefully, this will boost interest in science and math (and the space program) so that someday we can live in a world where advances in technology are spurred on by something other than gaming and Megatron.

My wife isn’t the only woman who sends mixed signals

This week those hoping to play the latest installment of the Metroid series were screw attacked. As Ian reported, Metroid Prime 3 will not be online, due to a lack of resources and the desire to make “the best single-player game possible.” The twist in the story comes from an interview with Retro Studios chief Michael Kelvaugh in which he says the Wii “development environment is a cakewalk to work with.”

Here’s a question, if the Wii was a such a cakewalk, then why the fuck did you not have the resources for an online component? This game better be 100 times better than the last one to support a decision like that.

Here’s a more pertinent question, why didn’t Nintendo order them to have the game online capable? This isn’t some cooking game or even a Mario spin-off, this is the first true Wii title of Nintendo’s triumvirate and the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the Wii’s ability to exist on the interwebs. For all the delays “to make the game right,” Nintendo is going to waive the white flag on one of its marquee franchises?

Maybe Nintendo has no concept of history or lacks a vision of the future, but this decision is baffling. Xbox Live has opened the world of gaming in ways Nintendo still apparently fails to realize. Otherwise, Nintendo would have an fully integrated online system, instead of its piss-poor friend codes and hamster-wheel connections. Instead of capitalizing on its sales success, Nintendo would rather sit on its ass like Marty Schottenheimer in the playoffs and just hope that people don’t realize that it’s putting out only one AAA game a quarter. Well you know what, Nintendo, it’s decisions like these that every analyst will point to in five years when you end up in third place, again.

That’s all for now.