Microsoft tester fired for blowing whistle on RRoD

rrodThe RRoD, or Red Ring of Death, is known to many Xbox 360 owners. The status message of the red LEDs means the console is fried and the console must be shipped back for repairs.

Nothing new here, but what is new is what Microsoft did to one of its contract testers–they fired him for divulging information about how the 360 was ripe with problems, thus confirming that Microsoft knew all along about the occurrences of RRoD in its machine before and during its release.

Robert Delaware gave his story to VentureBeat about what he experienced during his time as a tester (2005-2007) for Microsoft. He was fired on Wednesday and now expects to be sued by VMC, the outside vendor that hired him to test Microsoft games. The VentureBeat article went into detail about Microsoft’s problems with the manufacture of the Xbox 360, and how the factories were turning out an incredible 50% failure rate on first pass inspections.

Delaware related how Xbox Live updates, which were included in games, could break Xbox 360s and turn them into bricks. He also related how easy it was to crash the machine.

"If you coordinated the music player with the dashboard, you could get almost every 360 to lock up. I did it first on a combo DVD/audio disk. With NBA 2K6, you would select the music. The screen went black." The bug caused an RRoD.

At the time, Delaware sent a memo to his superiors about his concerns with the 360’s condition.

"With the upcoming Wii and PS3 launches, MS cannot afford the bad PR that might result from Update related issues. Asking these questions from the start might help to prevent possible criticism of our testing process, in the event of update-related problems. The last thing VMC needs is to take the blame for problems that Microsoft has (known) about from the start."

Delaware spoke out because he wanted the truth to be revealed and his feeling of empathy for Xbox 360 owners who were constantly battling the 360 breakages. But in speaking out, he will probably be bringing on the fury of Microsoft and its lawyers.

His response? "If they want to come after me, bring it on."

Individuals who work as testers for game companies are required to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in which they agree not to divulge any information about the games they test, the procedures, or anything pertaining to game production or procedures. The penalty for breaking the NDA is usually immediate dismissal and/or legal action.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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