back to article Gamer takes Microsoft to court over Halo 3 'errors'

A Californian gamer has filed a class action lawsuit demanding damages in excess of $5m against Microsoft and software developer Bungie, all because his copy of Halo 3 allegedly doesn’t work properly. Halo3_disc_unreadable2 UK gamers have complained of an unreadable error, when playing Halo 3 Whereas most gamers would …


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  1. Dale Morgan

    Its about time

    someone sued microsoft for releasing faulty products, I wish this guy the best of luck with his case.

  2. Mike
    Thumb Down


    That screen could only be more annoying if it had a blue-coloured background.

    There's nothing quite so frustrating at being 90% through a level only to be presented with that message and no "wipe the disk and try again" option - no, it's back to the last save point after a reboot. Which is nice.

    Quite why Microsoft didn't code-in a "tap X to retry" option here is astounding. The only reason I can think of is that it could potentially be used as a "backup game" hack (similar to the disk-swap technique on the PS2).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Re: Retry/Ignore/Abort

    Here is why...

    void main()


    try {



    catch (...) {




  4. Rich


    "...alleges that the game consistently causes the Xbox 360 to “crash, freeze or lock up”

    I actually hope this guy wins. Normally, I would dismiss him as a money-grabbing ...well, anyway...

    But on this occasion, I actually hope he wins. The usual get-out (certainly in the UK and I assume elsewhere), is that software is a "service" and therefore falls outside of the "sale of goods" act. It is for this reason that software manufacturers can (and DO!) basically sell us any old crap and there pretty much sod-all you can do about it except (and this in itself can be a struggle) get your money back.

    Why do you think Microsoft has managed to get away with the junk it peddles for so long?

    Holding them to proper account is long overdue and if lots of other s/w manufacturers suddenly start getting sued for similarly shoddy "services" then maybe they would sit up and actually make more effort to improve quality.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Retry/Ignore/Abort

    Couldn't agree more, this happens on a couple of my discs, notably Oblivion, and the only warning is about 5 seconds of clicks before the dreaded SOD. Why they couldn’t have allowed you to eject the disc and try again I don’t know. Thank god for auto-save.

  6. Cameron Colley

    Why did he keep the game and console?

    Surely it would be easier to take them back and get a refund, as they're not fit for purpose? In fact, that begs the question: why do people buy this bug-ridden crap in the first place?

  7. Billy Beans

    No it doesn't beg the question

    at all.

  8. Ian

    Complete FUD

    I've played through Halo 3 three times and had a good 100hrs+ multiplayer without a single crash hence it's clear there's not a single issue with the game itself.

    Could his console be faulty? sure.

    Could his disc be scratched? I guess so.

    Is this a fault with Halo 3 itself? Not in the slightest.

    This guy is an idiot, his best bet would be suing for flaws in the hardware as at least that would have some grounding, suggesting there's an issue with Halo 3 itself is idiocy of the greatest degree.

  9. Anthony Chambers

    unreadable error

    "UK gamers have complained of an unreadable error, when playing Halo 3"

    I can read the error, so what was the complaint? Was it too blurry or written like CAPTCHA?

  10. vishal vashisht
    IT Angle

    This isnt the game its the hardware

    This is the hardware itself, I had the same problem with Gears of War. It managed to kill 2 of my xboxes.

    It seems to me that when you have a really graphics intense game, it keels the original 360's over and leads to the red circle of death.

    Im on my 3rd xbox now which seems a lot more stable but is a shit load louder as it seems MS has finally got the cooling in place that they should have had in the first place.

    The PS3 is MUCH better, much quieter and cooler, I cant watch DVD's on the Xbox because it is just too loud.

  11. Robert Long


    "Surely it would be easier to take them back and get a refund, as they're not fit for purpose?"

    In any other industry knowingly selling defective goods is a serious offense. It's well past the time when software vendors were treated like everyone else. So, yes, it would be easier but that's turning a blind eye to what is effectively fraud.

  12. Phill Holland


    How does a guy justify to a court that a faulty computer game caused $5m of damages? Did inserting the game into the xbox somehow cause a chain reaction that somehow managed to burn down his mansion and collection of pimped out hummers? Or did the CD tray somehow manage to chop off his hand?

    If he were part of a collective, representing all of gaming than maybe it'd be a little more understandable, but any kind of faulty game doesn't justify this amount. ever.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Console Error: Replace Console

    Unlucky... my PS3 works perfectly...

  14. Stone Fox

    @ Cameron Colley

    Because they were too cheap to buy a PS3! :D

  15. Allan Rutland

    What a twonk!

    If its a disc error, you get it swapped? or is he to lazy to winch himself off the sofa and return it. If it was a bug, it would be more common, defect in pressing or the as reported earlier dodgy boxes, then that again is something to return it over. Not sue them.

  16. Matthew Sinclair

    @ Cameron Colley

    Thats like asking why people buy windows vista.

    : O )

  17. Daniel Whitmyer
    Thumb Down


    I admit Microsoft releases down right crappy coded software. BUT, there are around 500,000 people that purchased Halo 3 that have never had a single problem. To blame Bungie for this is crazy. If there was something wrong with their code, alot more people would be experiencing said issue.

    And in Microsoft's defense (although I cringe when I do), they stated a few days after Halo 3 was released that they know of an issue that causes certain discs to not play correctly and if you own one of these discs you can receive a new game or refund.

    I can understand if this was caused by buggy code, but it's not... So in my eyes this guy IS a money-grabbing...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's not begging the question at all.

    Plus, nearly every electronics retailer - large and small - in the United States has a return policy of seven days for hardware and will not take returns - period - on opened software.

  19. Josh


    Hypothetical: If any Halo gamer came to a shop I worked out whinging it wouldn't work I'd ask them why they weren't playing a real game to begin with.

  20. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Next Move..

    Sue for OS bugs!!

    Let's say for instance.. MacOS

  21. ben edwards

    the issue isnt about 'a game'

    The issue here is about software not working as intended, regardless of the user being a gamer or office worker or a student. Don't discount the validity of the suit due to the moron asking for $5mil since he's "just a gamer".

  22. Daniel


    i believe we're discounting the validity of the claim because it is likely that the console is faulty, or even the disc.

    Microsoft is well aware of issues with consoles and has hence extended the warranty. The games were known to have issues in the box with the disc coming loose and causing damage. i havent heard of any other issues. This guy is after money he doesnt deserve. if he contacted microsoft they would tell him to either take his console or game back to the store he bought it from for an exchange.

    This guy has no damages. how can he sue? what could possibly have caused damage? a faulty game/console is not a reason to sue in the same way that if a pc is faulty you can't sue you can only ask it be repaired/replaced

  23. calski
    Paris Hilton

    Problems with XBOX 360

    What's all this about problems with the original 360's??? I've had mine since day one of it's release and it's been as sound as a pound!

    GOW? No problem...

    HALO 3? No problem...

    Original XBOX games? Well.. a little bit jerky but I put that down to the emulation but they work...

    This guy is clearly a muppet and looking to cash in... what a plumb...


    I can't believe I signed up to comment on him! Argh!!! I'm as bad!!!

    And a one and a two...

    "It's time to play the music..."

  24. Dennis

    @Ian's "Complete FUD"

    I suppose this is to the other's who think the same way Ian does as well...

    Your personal experience with the system (software + hardware) says very little about the presence or absence of bugs, and where those bugs lie. I suggest you become knowledgeable on the theory and methodology of software/system testing before making grossly inaccurate comments again. I suppose Wikipedia would be a good place to start, though I cannot personally vouch for its accuracy nor its completeness.

    If you find this topic interesting, post a comment saying such, and I can refer you to some more thorough reading material on the subject.

  25. James Henstridge


    I'm surprised how many people trot out the "well my $PRODUCT works fine, so he must be doing something wrong?" line. There are lots of types of problems that will only affect a subset of users.

    There seems to be enough people reporting problems to dismiss it out of hand.

  26. J

    I know!

    It must be that they are using Vista as the OS in the Xbox, and the DRM thing is kicking in by mistake when it thinks you did not buy the disk...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    GOW? No problem...

    HALO 3? No problem...

    Actually... [...]

    I can't believe I signed up to comment on him! Argh!!! I'm as bad!!!

    Maybe you signed in because it gets you some compensation, monetary or in software?

  28. Filippo

    @James Henstridge

    Agreed. Besides, even a 30% failure rate for a consumer device is way beyond "unacceptably high" and well into "fraud", even if 70% of users have no problems. When we're talking about consumer electronics, we don't expect "a majority people" to have no problems, we expect that for "damn near everyone".

  29. RichardB
    Thumb Up

    Whats good for the goose

    "Phill Holland • Friday 23rd November 2007 16:55 GMT

    How does a guy justify to a court that a faulty computer game caused $5m of damages?"

    Not really sure, but presumably for similarly ridiculous reasons as demanding millions in damages from a 6 year old for copyright infringment...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laws are never set in stone

    "software is a "service" and therefore falls outside of the "sale of goods" act."

    All that means is that our elected and underworked MPs need to get off their bums for a few minutes and instruct their paid employees to create a Sale of Services Act which says exactly the same but applies to services as well as goods.

    Alternatively, why not do the obvious and amend the TITLE from SOGA to SOGASA, adding a simple line "For the purposes of this act, every supply of services shall confer on the buyer the same rights as would be conferred had the buyer purchased goods".

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cause is...

    Not all 360's have the same internal h/w. Even those that think there is no problem have to accept that.

    This issue (DRE) affects 360's with specific DVD drive units, and where the game is 'streaming' the game-data from the disc.

    When the game doesn't receive the data in time, the assumption is made that the disc is at fault.

    Whereas, it's just that the tolerances on sustained data transfer rates isn't the same for all DVD drive units.

    Strangely enough, not all games are impacted. eg. Whilst I had some issues with H2, on the whole it was fine. However, Forza2 is a no-go on my console - due to the DRE.

    But, will the class-action benefit those of us outside of the US?

  32. Chris

    This is BS

    Microsoft was aware of a problem with disks being damaged in shipping because of defective cases and offered free exchanges from any store purchased and recalled all of the unsold copies of the Collectors Edition. The stores in my area were just having each customer open each one when purchased to make sure it wasnt effected and sending back the ones that were. He had his chance to take the game back. And the idea that the games are screwing up the consoles is just moronic. Of course if you put your xbox in an entertainment center its going to overheat and die.... would you stack books next to your PC case vents? I have a first gen Xbox 360 and have never had a single problem because I TAKE CARE OF IT. 90% of these failing xbox's are people who dont understand that a console is just a computer, and you should treat is at such. I see xbox's come back to my store all the time because someone put it on an unlevel surface and it scratched their disks, or they didnt put it in a properly ventilated area and it over heated.

    I hope Microsoft runs this lazy idiot into the ground with legal fees.

  33. Daniel

    $5 million

    This is being filed as a class action lawsuit. So the $5m is not for damages for this one consumer, it's for the entire class. One can still argue about whether or not the suit itself is valid, etc., but if it is, then the sum is at least within an order of magnitude of being correct.


  34. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Optical media

    It would be better if like a PC it would install the software to the disc first, but ask for the disc to be present in the drive first for confirmation that you still own the disc.

    Optical media has no place in modern game consoles. It's fine for the Wii as the software and textures aren't so massive.

  35. Phill


    A lot of the comments above say software vendors shouldn't be able to use the "get out clause" and basically take responsibility for the quality of their software but I can't see this happening, for two reasons.

    Firstly, the complexity is too high. Writing software can be more complicated than landing a person on the moon. One is the theory of moving an object (a space ship), the other is creating a virtual world with true-to-life physics, including the modeling of all 4 dimensions (width, height, depth and time) not to mention gravity, handling object collisions (bullets, player contact, player movement on the ground). All this has to be simulated in real time over a distributed network of computers where processor time, ping time and other factors cannot be controlled. object collisions, theory and algorithms that produce *realistic* shrapnel are not easy to calculate. Developer's often resort to cheats in the 3D environment, one being "hit blocks", because of course, even if you represent your data with true-to-life physics, you have to map that back into a grid of squares pixmaps and make it logical to the user. Surely we've all seen bullets kill someone even through you shot over the dudes ear. Then on top of that, you have the problem of speed. CPU, Memory, and Graphics capability are limited so you can't model true-to-life physics due because those physics take too long to calculate and the bullets have less than 10 ms to register. You can increase speed by using a lower level programming language such as C or Assembly but these simpler languages require you to write more code to achieve the final result and your under time-contraints. You can't spend 10 years writing a game because the sales will never cover the cost of 10 years development time for a team of developers.

    Whilst I would like to see higher levels of quality in place and perhaps a little forced, where do you draw the line? You have to remember that no program contains no bugs. No developer will ever tell you they are certain their application is bug free.

    The second problem is integration. Let's say a bug is found. What happens if the bug is in DirectX or a third party library you didn't write? Do you then sue them. What if that company argues the bug is a feature and you miss read the documentation? Documentation is truly a contract and it would open a whole painful legal process.

    Basically the whole area is a mine-field. If it's any consolation, were seeing DirectX and underlying libraries become more robust and games in general becoming more robust so just accept this is a luxury and not a right and that as the field of development matures we can start to take more accountability for our work.

  36. vishal vashisht


    There was DEFINATELY a problem when GOW came out. It was the FIRST really high quality, high graphics intense game for the Xbox 360 and it keeled over a LOT of xboxes. Most people at the time thought it was the game; my local HMV had a 100%(!!!) return rate for GOW; for the M$ marketing people reading this, that means that EVERY game they sold came back faulty. Even on slightly less graphics intense games, you could see the system starting to fall over when the graphics card started to heat up.

    My current xbox360 is definately different to the previous 2, even though MS refuse to acknowledge it. The unit is much much louder, which leads me to think they have put in more powerful fans. As I stated earlier, it is now too loud for anything other than gaming, which is why I use my PS3 for DVD's and why I havent bought the HD DVD add on for the xbox.

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  38. Lance

    Bungie is Microsoft

    Bungie is owned by Microsoft. So by saying that Bungie has nothing to do with the hardware is not quite accurate.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do they get away with it, part 234569856

    To Vishal Vashist, who wrote, "Im on my 3rd xbox now ...".

    Thanks for making clear the answer to "How do Microsoft get away with it". Stupidity will out, at any cost.

  40. Gower

    @ Chris and the i take care of my items so they don't break crowd

    have you ever seen the simpsons? so you work in a store where people use there 360's as car jacks and leave them on unalanced surfaces etc. HELLO comic store guy!!!

    MS obviously wouldn't have introduced the 3 year warranty if there wasn't a problem.

    The only comment of any worth in thuis useless thread is Phill's re development however if MS moguls are going to drive ferraris I do expect good returns policy's in place.

    This product could have been as robust as a PS2 I had one which had been modified with a hard disk mod chip basically fucked with by an amatuer spark (me) carried around in a kit bag boot of car its goin on six years old and it still boots everytime has no disc read errors didn't get the laser problem anyone still reading this?

    thought not

    Anyway the 360 would no way stand up to any kind of mistreatment and I treat mine with kid gloves it operates in Server room condtions and yet Bioshock (oh suprise suprise a GPU intensive game) RROD... some consoles were inherintely fuct from the plant, and thats that.

  41. lglethal Silver badge

    @ Laws are never set in stone

    The politician's will never get off their butts and create a Sale of Services Act as one could relatively accurately describe politicians as providing a service (which we pay through via tax) therefore we could definitely attack all politicians for breach of providing a reasonable service, no?

    And $5 million for not being able to play a computer game? All the people involved in this law suit needed to have their consoles taken away from them and told to get a f%$kin life!

  42. Matthew

    stick to PC's

    Just spend the money from you would on your shiney new XBOX and buy a decent graphics card and play on your PC! they actually *work*

  43. Alex Witherspoon
    Gates Horns


    I have had some problems with MacOS, but it will still work. Now as for Windows, I tried to play Riven, it locked out until I reset it.

  44. Chris

    Xbox Live

    It has happened to me, but I went the way of sending the disc back for a replacement rather than the law suit option. It would be better nice if the game saved at every checkpoint rather than only when you exit the game.

    Surely if the xbox cannot read a part of the data on the Halo 3 disc, either because of a scratch or some other problem Microsoft could code the xbox so it just downloads the missing data from xbox live instead and then reads from the game disc again when it can. That would solve the problem.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris

    Re This is BS

    Read what you wrote again, if that was the case, ie not level etc causing scratches, how do laptop users and in car DVD viewers manage without screwing their disks hardware. Domestic DVD players are often kept near, next to or even in the same cabinet as games consoles, by the same people, so how come we don't hear the never ending string of complaints about them breaking.

    There seems to be a philosphy that gamers are stupid and MS can do what they like because its OK and it might break the gravy train to upset them.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Craig Collier
    Gates Halo

    just wanted to show my love

    For the man, the legend, the money-making mogul of moguls that is Mr Gates.

    Another fine product on his hands here, no probs as far as i can see.

    Yeah right, (Enter anonymous Linux/Mac/PS3/OSS fanbois comment here).


  48. Anonymous Coward

    It's a fault already acknowledged by MS and Bungie.

    Microsoft have already acknowledged a problem with this game (the article is linked from this story page, so not many of you can have read this if you're still calling him a liar).

    In fact, on the offical MS forum for the game there is a "disc fault" thread running with over 4,500 responses on it, including video footage of the fault. See the Xbox forum thread entitled: "Re: Post here if u having the Disc Read Error".

    Not only that, the official Bungie website acknowledges the fault. They should know - they made the game. Quoted below:

    Q: I am encountering issues while playing Halo 3 where the game is apparently failing to read the disc properly. What should I do?

    A: We are aware of reports that some people have received a "Disc Unreadable" error or similar issue while trying to play Halo 3. Bungie is working with the Xbox team to investigate the potential causes of this issue. Please visit the Microsoft Support Site and follow the listed instructions to see if this resolves the error message. For additional information or customer support, please call 1-800-4MY-XBOX.

  49. N1AK


    "Firstly, the complexity is too high. Writing software can be more complicated than landing a person on the moon. One is the theory of moving an object (a space ship), the other is creating a virtual world with true-to-life physics, including the modeling of all 4 dimensions (width, height, depth and time) not to mention gravity, handling object collisions (bullets, player contact, player movement on the ground)."

    Exactly what do you think the guidance software on a space ship does? You do realise that time, height, depth, width and gravity as well as other objects (satellites, planets perhaps?) also exist in "the real world"?

    Computer games use massively dumbed down physics engines, in the real world just trying to model the air-flow through a prototype jet engine as accurately as we currently can is basically a super-computer sized task.

    Just because NASA managed to get to the moon using a computer less powerful than a gameboy doesn't take away from the fact it was an incredibly complex task.

  50. Toby Rose
    Gates Horns

    Scratch Alert

    From day one, (March), I had this unreadable error on GoW. To my distain, when I removed the disk to give it a wipe, there was the first scratch. As said, any graphically intensive XBox 360 game, where the data is streamed from the disk will cause scratches, (with one particular DVD-ROM drive). Oblivion was rendered unplayable and Forza II too.

    That was the final straw. Back to Microshaft the box went via courier. Six weeks later, even after multiple calls, no sign of my box. Over the phone as expected, Microsoft wouldn't acknowledge the fault with the DVD-ROM, even telling me to keep the pantyliner-shaped box on a level and stable surface. Stand the machine horizontal etc and not put jam on printed side a la Tomorrow's World.

    Main point of the matter is that they would only refund me four weeks on XBox live. In total my box was AWOL for eight weeks. In fact my box is still AWOL, I got sent a new one, which I promptly sold. Never looked back, (until writing this now). My PS3 might not have all that many games yet but I've the confidence in the product to be working for time to come.


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