I've owned an Xbox 360 since January 2006. I had an Xbox, Playstation 2, Playstation, Atari Jaguar with CD attachment, 3DO, and Turboduo before that (these all use optical discs). I've been collecting music CDs for almost 30 years (I'm 50 years old), and have over 1,000 music CDs (some of my older disks have been played hundreds of times). I have a decent sized collection of DVDs, over 300 collected over the last 15 years or so. I've just recently started buying BluRays, and only have a few dozen of them. Since I no longer have the older game consoles, or their games, I don't recall exactly how many I had, but I am confident that it was over 200 in total. With well over 1,500 optical discs purchased in 30 or so years, the only disc failures I have ever had have all been Xbox 360 game discs. Of the 58 game discs I have, 3 have failed (the third one failed today, prompting this post). This is greater than a 5% failure rate, which is definitely excessive. They have all failed in the same way: a visible line, that looks like a crack, starts from the center of the disk and grows straight outward; the disc begins delaminating in both directions from the crack. This crack is obviously between the two bonded layers of the disc, and is not an external crack. Given that I have not had this problem with any other optical disc, I am confident this isn't caused by me mishandling the disc.
Optical discs should last 99+ years unless abused. I can only think of two possible reasons for this kind of failure: either as a result of faulty manufacturing of the disc, or due to the way the Xbox 360 grips the disc. If I had to bet, I'd say faulty manufacturing of the disc, since this latest failure is a game I've just started playing in the last 2 weeks. I have games that I have played for many more hours over the last 8 years, so I would expect that if the problem was due to the way the disc is held inside the Xbox, games that spend more time inside the player would be more likely to fail, and I haven't seen that. Two failures were within a few weeks of starting to play, perhaps 60 or so hours of play, one was about 100 hours of play. I have three games I have played for well over 500 hours each, and those discs are fine so far.
So, is anyone else seeing comparable failure rates? I think anything over 1% would be unusual.
I tried to find a place where I could inform Microsoft support of this issue. I wouldn't expect any meaningful reply, but I would think they'd be interesting in knowing that the discs that play on their game box have such a high failure rate. I assume that they don't press these discs themselves, and would want to know about such a high failure rate so that they could change pressing plants, or encourage publishers to do so.
I would also like to see Microsoft get involved in standardizing the replacement of failed discs. My first failed disc only cost me $5 plus shipping of my bad disc to the manufacturer. I sent them the bad one - just the disc, +$5, and they sent a replacement in a retail box and with all normal inserts. I didn't need the retail box or the inserts, but I imagine $5 covered their costs. This isn't too unreasonable, but I do think it should be cheaper, if not free. DVDs cost pennies to make, and if they are selling discs that are defective, they should have to cover the replacement costs. Most of the cost of the game is for the content, not the physical medium it was sent on. With my second failed disc, the manufacturer wanted $20 + the bad disc back. The game was about 1 year old, and I was able to by a replacement at retail for less than that, so their return policy was insulting. I liked the game enough to replace it. But I don't think I'll be buying a game from that company again; they do not stand behind their products (the previous game in this series had a fatal bug that killed the game; they knew about this before selling it for Xbox 360, and didn't fix it or provide a patch for it). Given how cheap USB flash drives are getting (8GB for < $5), perhaps consoles should revert to ROM cartridges; I'd bet 8GB permanent ROM would be close in price to DVD, and packaging would be cheaper, as well as shipping costs, and they should be more reliable.
Also, with 400+ pages in the forums, why is there no search feature for the forums? If there is one, I couldn't find it. There may be posts about this already, but I sure wasn't going to manually look at 400+ pages of topics to find out.
Anyway, if you're also getting disc failures, reply to this post. I presume that Microsoft watches these forums (especially since they specify conduct rules), so perhaps a long thread about disc failures will get them to look into the problem. Certainly I'll be considering this issue before buying my next generation console. Note that, in the expectation that there are going to be a high percentage of replies to this post on the order of "I've had 4 failures in 100 discs", I will not be getting replies via e-mail.