Xbox 360 Faceplates Were A Failure, Says Microsoft

Swappable faceplates on the Xbox 360 wasn't a bad idea, says the console's marketing boss but, looking back, it came in a little late, especially for a fad based on mobile phones.

"We don't ever create an accessory with the intent of having it fail", Albert Penello told Official Xbox Magazine. "The idea wasn't bad... people used to put faceplates on their mobile phones. Rewind five years, faceplates were what everybody wanted to do."

Rewind four years, though, and people had already given up on it for the 360. Modders and artists who took the time to custom paint their consoles found the swappable faces a convenience, and there were more than a few cool pics of what some had done with theirs. But commercially the thing was a flop.

"It turned out nobody bought it. We killed that one pretty quickly," Penello admits. Microsoft has not made official faceplates for a few years, and the Xbox 360 Slim, of course, does not have the option.

Perhaps the reason the swappable faceplate craze couldn't catch on with a console is because the thing stays in your living room 24/7; no one's pulling it out of a purse to show off at a bar or a party.

Penello: 'Nobody Bought' Xbox 360 Faceplates [Official Xbox Magazine]


    I could have told them it was a bad idea to start with...
    I mean seriously, who cares.

    I did get a free faceplate once at a convention, and i couldn't even take off my original one to put it on... brilliant!
    Still, i'm glad i couldn't get it on, it was kinda ugly...

    I thought it was a great idea. Seriously, that Xbox beige is uuugggglyyyyy.
    Half the reason it failed was the fact that almost all the designs on option were terrible, they were too expensive and I could be wrong about this bit but I'm fairly sure there was no shiny black one that made it match all your other home theatre equipment. Leastways, I couldn't find one.

    It may have been more successful with more game-themed faceplates, even giving them away with game preorders at the beginning until people caught on to the idea.

      Yes, but also what is the point of a faceplate when the rest of the console is a completely different color?

        Agreed, I was just about to say that. These were a bad idea to begin with. Noone wants to play dress up my console by swapping out some face plates. The idea was flawed seeing as you could only change the face plate. If they made entire cases that were easily interchangeable, and then made some cool looking ones people might buy them.

        But it's still not going to be something that someone buys a half dozen of and swaps them out each week. They would have been better off looking for a way to foster people's creativity with this sort of thing, maybe selling full cases that were blank canvases for people to draw/paint/stick things onto.

    The main reason I used swappable cases for my last phone was as a way to get rid of all the scratches it got from sitting in my pocket with my keys.

    That problem has never come up with a game console.

    That's true, I was kind of wondering what happened to them. I remember getting a "hotrod" faceplate with my 360 bundle, and I only ever put it on once. I also got a free Quake 4 one, hahaha... I think another thing that doesn't work in it's favour is the fact that they were a completely different colour from the rest of the console and it looks completely out of place, blue front and white back, when you think about it, it doesn't have that big an appeal at all.

    Reading this article was pretty funny. Hey, we DID have phones with swappable face plates! In this day and age of touchscreen iPhones and Android devices, it seems almost quaint that at one point, putting a plastic shell on your phone was the very definition of personalising it.

      What about all the custom iPhone/pad cases you can buy?

        Completely different. An iPhone case is purely for protection, whereas a 90s Nokia dumbphone had entire portions of the front/backplate, screen protector and buttons removable for customising.

        The fact that modern smartphones have taken on the monolithic touchscreen form factor means there's very little room for customisation as anything trivial will merely obscure the real estate.

    Would have been good if they didn't sell for $50. Make it $20 and come in a greater variety of themes and colours and they'd sell.

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