If you're a gamer, you probably already know that the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 has issues. If your own 360 hasn't failed yet, chances are that at least one of your gaming friends has returned an Xbox -- maybe more than once.

The "Red Ring of Death" mystery has caused Microsoft to set aside more than $1 billion to guarantee warranty service for affected boxes. But the heavy casualties from now on should be limited to the games rather than the consoles, according to a report from warranty repair specialist SquareTrade.

According to the study, Xbox failure rates are difficult to estimate because the "Red Ring" issue is so well-known that many users bypass third-party warranty providers altogether and simply get service directly from Microsoft. With that in mind, between 24% and 35% of Xbox 360 consoles failed and had to be repaired or replaced in the first two years of ownership.

But Microsoft has updated its hardware, and the latest version of the machine seems to have put an end to this particular problem. "It is still too early to definitively assert that Jasper has given RROD a knockout punch," says SquareTrade, "but such an argument may be pronounceable in the coming months."

That's great news for Microsoft investors, who surely don't want to see unnecessary billions lost on fixing broken video game systems. Still, even without the "Red Ring" issues, the Xbox fails within two years for 11.7% of warranty-buying gamers. That's worse than the Sony (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3 at 10% and way behind the Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) Wii with its measly 2.7% failure rate.

To put the numbers in context, SquareTrade also sells warranties for cell phones, and last year it estimated a two-year failure rate of around 10% for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and around 14% for Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry handsets. So if Microsoft has truly fixed its single worst serviceable issue, then it joins Sony in the realm of respectable product quality -- although Nintendo's Wii remains far and away the most reliable video game system available, no matter how you slice the data.

Nobody buys Microsoft stock for its gaming cred, though the division should be expected to contribute to the company's results. But Nintendo's outstanding product quality bodes well for the purer play.

Apple and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Nintendo is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.