How serious are the PS4's Blue Light of Death and broken hardware reports?

Seemingly isolated issues frustrate thousands of consumers.

Just a few days after launch, the PlayStation had already earned a dubious honor: a nickname for its potentially fatal flaw. What some users are calling the Blue Light of Death, mimicking the infamous Red Ring of Death that plagued the launch of the Xbox 360 for years, has forced hundreds of PlayStation 4 owners to send their systems back to Sony and vent their frustrations in online reviews and forums. But just how widespread is the issue?

While it's impossible to accurately gauge how far the claims of broken systems extend, prior to launch Sony shared that their expected failure rate for the console was 0.4%. To put that in perspective, that's about 1 in 250. With over one million PlayStation 4 systems sold, that comes to about 4,000 potentially broken systems. While that's a small number compared to the 996,000 that do work, that's little consolation if you're one of the 4,000 affected waiting to mail a $400 paperweight back to Sony.

This is also the first console-launch since the wide spread of social media, where users can quickly and easily share their opinions with a world-wide audience ready to listen. And studies have shown that people are much more likely to share negative experiences over positive ones. We've grown accustomed to publicly berating companies that offer a subpar service and crowd-sourcing our troubleshooting needs, asking friends on Twitter or Facebook for advice before trying to go through any official channels.

Even still, the PlayStation forums have several constantly growing posts dedicated to broken PS4 systems, and the Amazon review thread is divided between 5 star and 1 star reviews, with most of the 1 star reviews specifically calling out the flashing blue light.

Exploring Sony's Customer Service

A thread on the official PlayStation forums walks users through potential fixes for the flashing blue light, but if that doesn't work, the best advice I've read online is to take the PS4 to a Sony store. Official Sony stores can sometimes perform maintenance on-site, and they're generally able to offer immediate replacements without having to wait to mail anything back and forth.

While the PS4 I ordered from Amazon has been working just fine, I wanted to find out what the customer experience would be like if my system didn't work. So after reading up on all the troubleshooting I would have done, I tried accessing the live chat system on the Sony support site. Over the course of an hour, I was only put in line to talk to a representative three times. Each time I was queued at either number 16 or 17 and given a 5-minute wait time. After two minutes, I was booted from the queue with no explanation.

Not a great start, so I tried calling the support system by phone. Although the automated voice on the other end told me that the wait could exceed one hour, I was patched through to a live person in 28 minutes.

I asked about the process for returning a console that doesn't work and has a flashing blue light. First, I was told about the possible Sony store return policy I mentioned earlier, but if no stores were in my area, the representative would collect my shipping info. I'd have a return box in two days (or I could ship it to Sony myself right now via UPS), and after trying to repair the machine, they'd send me a repaired unit or replacement in 5-7 days.

The representative told me that, outside of the flashing blue light, she'd been able to fix most issues for users over the phone. However, she couldn't verify how widespread the irreparable issues were nor what was causing the blue light issue. The representative was incredibly courteous, knowledgeable, and almost made up for the wasted time I spent waiting to chat with someone online.

Ongoing Research

Maybe the GameSpot office and I have been exceedingly lucky. The consoles we were sent by Sony for review worked fine, and held up to the brutal 12-hour gaming sessions they endured for our livestreams. The system I ordered from Amazon has been on and online for hours without a stutter, and all of my acquaintances that ordered a PS4 have been streaming weekend play sessions and posting images of their games.

But even if Sony's estimates are correct and the issues users are facing only affect 0.4%, it's obvious that a vocal minority is having an effect on public perception of the system. And the customer service experience on Sony's side could be handled better, especially for compensating the gamers who aren't near a Sony store and who might not have a better course of action than mailing their system back and waiting for a replacement.

For the potentially thousands of gamers who have had to spend the weekend after launch troubleshooting a system and waiting to talk to customer service, there's a lot of justifiable unhappiness. But on the bright side, it doesn't seem quite as serious as some reports seem to suggest. GameSpot will continue looking into these issues to determine just how widespread they are and if they affect more than Sony's projected 0.4%.

If you've run into any issues, good or bad, we'd like to hear about them in the comments below. But if you're looking for technical support, you probably don't want to ask the commenters. For that, I'd recommend heading to the PlayStation support site.

Written By

GameSpot.com Senior EditorTwitter: JustinHaywald

Discussion

3398 comments
wolfyrabbit
wolfyrabbit

not as serious as the problems on the xbone

DevinC12
DevinC12

No worries, no matter whats going wrong with a few thousand Sony consoles; rest assured it coundnt be worst than Xbox Ones issue, barely being able to read Disc, or even come on for that matter... /;

richthequick
richthequick

hopefully us europeans dont go threw the same problem

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

i hope nothing like this happens to the UK release, but the media is hyping the problem more than it really is

crystal_619
crystal_619

I was one of the unlucky ones to get a bad unit.  We set in a Walmart store for 8 hours just to get our hands on one.  Got home about 1 in the morning and it lasted a whopping 1 1/2 hours.  We tried every trick we could.  Different hdmi cables, different tv's, and even the trick of pulling the hard drive out.  Nothing would get it to come back on and output to the screen.  I had to set on hold for over two hours just to talk to someone with Playstation.  We wound up spending another $50 to get an extended warranty b/c if it broke that quick I'm sure it will break down again.  We had to wait for them to fedex us a special box, then ship it back to them, which is a major pain b/c we live about 45 minutes to the nearest Fedex location, luckily my Dad was heading to the city and dropped it off for us, if not I would have had to taken off work just to ship the stupid thing.  We are now a week into release and still have no PS4.  It is so aggravating to see commercials with all the games we own and can't even play.  I wish they would do something for those of us that this happened to, but I doubt we get anything for all our trouble.

eatrget8
eatrget8

Looking for clan members. If interested send a request to clan name: ERG8, or send a message to EatRGet8 on PlayStation network.

eatrget8
eatrget8

I have been playing my PS4 since launch every chance I get...really working it. I haven't had a problem.

tsvca
tsvca

Hello! Imagine the fear for those international buyers, like me, to pay US$400 on a paperweight.. asking relatives in US to buy it.. cuz right now i feel terrified to murfy's law... I will have to postpone the more I can to garantee the correction of this error.

Now, imagine a US$1800 Sony paperweight (like it costs in Brazil)..

And if Sony projections are right (4million sold until 12/31), those are 16 thousand paperwight.. OMG!

sadtrepanation
sadtrepanation

anybody knows when sony is planning to launch the next updated ps5?

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

anybody knows when sony is planning to launch the next updated ps4 stocks, with no hardware failures?

kominio
kominio

Thats why you dont buy a console in launch! You wait 2 years problem will solved, u get the Slim edition, you get it cheaper and the best titles are out! Now only Killzone matters!

jasonlc3221
jasonlc3221

I'm still waiting for the "Greatness" to happen

Bansheezs
Bansheezs

Just talked to amazon to get my new replacement console overnight delivery! Thank God at least someone had the decency to try to fix the issue in a timely manner. HEAR THAT SONY! I am talking to you! 

danbodamnit
danbodamnit

@DevinC12  lol how is that any different than sonys problems? DOA ps4s? so much denial lol pitiful


moesuir
moesuir

@crystal_619 don't feel too bad, with games like Knack and Snoozezone you're not really missing out.

Zerabp
Zerabp

@techblogtv just curious but how can connecting or disconnecting the hdmi cable while the Tv/PS4 are on damage either? I wasn't aware of any harm that could come from this action.

coolguyhero
coolguyhero

@klepp0906 they want a console when it launches not ready to w8 & when the bad system comes they critcised the company......

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@klepp0906 Yeah but if the only perception of the console they have is of a broken paper weight on their desk why would they post a stellar review?

What you are suggesting is that unless you have good things to say about the console don't post a review which is worse in my eyes and is skewing the data even more overall than people posting negative reviews.

Sure if someone goes online and blasts Sony in a stupid irrational and childish way then fair enough I can understand but if someone is simply pointing out that their consoles was straight up broken after they paid a considerable amount of money for it then they have as much right as you to post what they want about it.

You do know what reviews are for don't you? It is so people know what they are buying. If there are 1000 reviews and 4 of them are negative chances are they aren't going to give a shit are they......unless they are idiots. 

If there are 1000 reviews and 900 of them are negative, you would have to be an apocalyptic moron to go anywhere near it.

coolguyhero
coolguyhero

@eze_sl89 thatswhy always w8 for 2 to 3 months after the launch till that time many gamers already purcahsed consoles so the new slot has better hardware & patches fix most of the software issues.

klepp0906
klepp0906

I shouldn't have to say this but... Everything has failures. 400 out of hundreds of thousands.. That's a retardly low amount. Xbox 360s was much much higher. Actually it was almost a certainty. Not if but when. People sure gobbled those up :p

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@kominio 2 years might be pushing it a bit. I'll wait until I've heard of people playing their consoles for 24 hours with a douve over it with no problems and then I'll buy one.

If some shit starts to go down chances are they will start to make themselves known in the next month or so. Like the Xbox 360 problems were obvious from the start. I'd only had mine 24 hours when some solder melted and it died.

Jdzspace
Jdzspace

@jasonlc3221 - fastest selling console of all time.......your wait was over 24 hour after launch. 

warrenalan1983
warrenalan1983

@Bansheezs lol you idiot, you send it back to where u bought it not to the manufacture, u know nothing 

DevinC12
DevinC12

@danbodamnit @DevinC12  The difference is xboxes are at 50% while ps4s are at 4%... /;

jZangetsu21
jZangetsu21

@moesuir @crystal_619 Yeah and with a boring QTE fest like Ryse and an ugly framerate dropping mess like DR3, Xbox One people aren't missing much either.

techblogtv
techblogtv

@Zerabp on the play station forums someone said that connecting an HDMI cable to devices that are on could damage the devices.  This method worked for me but I just wanted people to be aware of the risks.

So far a few people have told me this method works.  I haven't seen instances where the fix doesn't work.
 

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@klepp0906 It is because the first ones to die were relatively exposed ones. Like the guy who won his console and got it early only to have it dead when it arrived.

If those sorts of things hadn't happened, then the number of failures would have been drown in the sea of awesomeness.

klepp0906
klepp0906

I know right? Gotta love the trolls.

danbodamnit
danbodamnit

What are you bitching about? That is what he did. do you even read bro?

DevinC12
DevinC12

@LoatheMe  Like I said, xboxes are trash.. Your defending a 54% failure rate, that's pretty pathetic, & so ridiculous news stations even fed on it.. Xboxes still use AA batteries for their controllers, I mean seriously, look around, PS4 has easily DOUBLED Xboxes sales, its not even an competition at this point... Argue with that fanboys... /; 

LoatheMe
LoatheMe

Haha. Listen to this angry illiterate little 12 year old. SOLID FACTS "DUDINE"! LIKE WHEN I WATCHED SOME TOTALLY IMPARTIAL VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE! THAT'S PRACTICALLY SCIENCE!

I guess he doesn't have to worry about things like PSN getting hacked and his credit card information stolen though when it's all on mommy and daddys card anyway.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@IamCuddles @klepp0906 Yeah in the perfect world everyone would wait at least six months of heavy use of any item before posting a review but they don't.

And even then if they simply ignore the fact that their first attempt was just straight up broken then that is a poor review as far as I'm concerned.

The fact is people paid a lot of money for the console and the console was broken when it arrived. Whether they should have smashed the reviews with their hatred is one thing but the fact is it was the PS4 which was broken out of the box and ignoring it is bad practice in my mind. I WANT to know if people have had broken consoles, so I am aware of the chance of mine being broken also.

The only thing people are guilty of is venting their hatred in the wrong place/way. But considering this is the internet it could have been a lot worse.

Besides if someone gets a working console how does it effect them what other people post in reviews?

RT-XD
RT-XD

@klepp0906 wow...I was over-exaggerating...hence the "XD" at the end. But I guess it's hard to understand that when it's written over the internet.

You PS4 fans really need to take things lightly and not rage at every comment made XD

klepp0906
klepp0906

Yea I guess they could be off by 49% or so............. Shoulda just not said anything at all lol

klepp0906
klepp0906

Half roflmao. I think you may have just been complicit in the greatest exaggeration of all time. Are your reading comprehension skills up to Atleast 3rd grade level? That's not half, that's less than A HALF OF A PERCENT.

Not understanding decimals isn't an excuse either since they wrote it out in cold hard numbers. Alas my point has been proven. So thank you for that.