2013 Year in Review

PS4 and Xbox One launch: broken hardware and one million sales

Year in Review: Record-breaking sales accompanied by an influx of user-created videos showing the PS4's "flashing blue light of death" and the Xbox One's disc-grinding drive.

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We close out our year-end retrospective with a look back at Microsoft and Sony’s console launches and all the other big news from the final months of 2013. You can also read: Part one -- covering the reveal of the next-gen consoles and other beginning of the year events. Part two -- covering the biggest news from E3 and immediately after. And part three -- covering the console dominance of Grand Theft Auto V and the reveal of Valve’s Steam OS.

The short reprieve from constant analysis surrounding the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was extended slightly by this year’s Blizzcon. Returning from a one year hiatus, Blizzard’s conference had plenty of big announcements, including an open beta for Heroes of the Storm and new details on the Warcraft movie. But the most exciting news was the confirmation and full details of the next World of Warcraft expansion: Warlords of Draenor.

While most of Blizzard’s announcements wouldn’t see fruition until next year (or later), the impending console launch was a present, looming event. But both Microsoft and Sony took a huge blow to their video game launch line-up before either console came out; one of the most-anticipated next-gen titles, Watch Dogs, was suddenly delayed until Spring 2014.

Developer Ubisoft said in a statement: “We know a lot of you are probably wondering: Why now? We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality."

That setback didn’t seem to hurt either consoles’ sales. The PlayStation 4 launched first, selling a landmark one million consoles in 24 hours across North America. Then the Xbox One came a week later and also sold over one million consoles in 24 hours. Of course, arguments immediately sprang up online that Microsoft had to launch in 13 countries to hit the same number as Sony. And those same arguments persisted when the consoles hit the 2 million mark. But as we discussed in an in-depth editorial, numbers are fun to watch, but they’re a very poor indicator of actual success so early into a console’s life cycle.

In the end, both Microsoft and Sony sold out (and currently continue to sell out) of every machine they created. The biggest difference between the launch of these consoles and previous launches (both the successful and unsuccessful) is that more were available to purchase on day one than ever before. The true test of which console will sell more and whether anything will be able to consistently beat Nintendo’s dominating handheld platform remains to be seen.

The ultimate goal for all of these companies (aside from making a profit) is to provide entertainment, and in that sense everyone was successful. Microsoft cordially congratulated Sony on the launch of their system. And PlayStation returned the greeting…though they had to delete a snarky Facebook post first.

The PlayStation reportedly cost $381 to build (just $19 less than the system’s retail price), and though GameSpot didn’t give the system a score, we did review Sony’s black box and all of the launch games. Similarly, the Xbox One reportedly cost $471 to build including the Kinect (the system retails at $499), and we also put together a score-free review for Microsoft’s system and a score-included review of the launch games.

Sony responded with disappoint on the overall low review scores for their initial games, but at the end of the November, neither Sony nor Microsoft had any console-exclusive titles in the top 10 sales for November. But those were small problems compared to the other controversies springing up around the system launches. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One required day one patches, but Microsoft pulled the option for owners to download the update separately on a USB saying, "The site was not an alternative way to take the Day One update and customers still need to connect to Xbox Live for the update.”

The PlayStation 4’s online network suffered issues following both the North America and EU launch. But more problematic were reported issues with what users called the “flashing blue light of death.” The Xbox meanwhile faced an issue with the disc drive creating a loud, grinding noise. Neither Sony nor Microsoft released specific hardware failure rate numbers, but given the large number of total sales and the relatively small number of reported complaints, it can be safely inferred that neither developer faced issues anywhere near the Xbox 360’s “red ring of death” problem. However, Microsoft took the extra step of providing advance returns for broken Xbox One consoles to make sure that owners wouldn’t have to wait for their console to be fixed to continue playing.

1080p vs. 720p also became a constant Internet talking point between the two consoles, especially since several high-profile third-party games displayed in native 1080p on PS4 but only 720p on Xbox One. Regarding Call of Duty: Ghosts on next-gen, Activision said, “The Xbox One is 720p, but it upscales to 1080p. So it is a 1080p output on your TV. The differences are probably more subtle than some people would notice, but some people will notice.” Meanwhile, Sony took advantage of the opportunity to claim that native 1080p allows you to “be a better gamer.”

Battlefield 4, meanwhile, suffered from a problem that affected almost every version of the game, especially next-gen and PC -- persistent bugs and crashes. A post originally appeared on an Electronic Arts help site that seemed to place the blame on Sony, but this was taken down almost immediately. EA eventually acknowledged the crashing issues and, over the course of the month, continued to escalate the issue internally until work on other additions and future DLC was put on-hold and all resources were put toward fixing the game’s issues.

The problems became severe enough that EA is now facing potential lawsuits from multiple parties who are seeking to represent the company’s stockholders. EA has replied that the “claims are meritless,” and that they are “confident the court will dismiss the complaint in due course." Ironically, EA had almost followed Watch Dogs' example and delayed Battlefield 4 on Xbox One and PS4.

Microsoft and Sony were not the only participants in the 2013 next-gen console race, but Nintendo confirmed in an investor meeting that the company had failed to establish the Wii U as a “worthy” successor to the Wii. Nintendo placed a strong emphasis on the tentpole title Super Mario 3D World and winter titles like Wii Party U and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Mario failed to break into the top 10 US game sales in November, but the Wii U’s sales saw a dramatic 304% spike. With a one-year lead over its competition, a lot of attention in the coming year will focus on whether Nintendo's console can maintain its current lead over the Xbox One and PS4 in terms of total sales.

Closing out the year, the Internet experienced a huge row over copyright infringement with YouTube. After a drastic spike in the number of claims made due to new auto-detection software the company put in place. Despite outcry from users who were flagged for making Let’s Play videos and developers who didn’t have a problem with their games being played on camera, YouTube stood by their policy.

Blizzard, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, and Capcom all offered their support to affected gamers and are currently looking for long-term solutions to make sure that YouTube users are not automatically flagged for playing their games online. Even director Kevin Smith spoke out saying, "Don't stamp down someone's creativity; even if it's someone else's creativity with other people's material, because you make found art out of art that you find."

While YouTube has been working to close off gaming content, the US government has been working to become a closer part of online gaming worlds. Documents came out in December that revealed the government as been monitoring online behavior in World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Xbox Live in order to hunt down terrorists. No terrorists have been apprehended through the program and both Microsoft and Blizzard came forward to say they were unaware of and did not consent to the invasive monitoring.

But to close out the 2013 news round-up on a more positive note, Riot Games revealed that League of Legends events rival both the Super Bowl and the Oscars on Reddit. And over 32 million people watched the League of Legends Season 3 world championships -- for comparison, the final game of the 2013 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals only drew 18 million viewers while the 2013 Super Bowl drew 104.8 million. But some players are still pulling in celebrity-size salaries; Carlos "Ocelote" Rodriguez makes nearly $1 million per year as a professional LoL player.

And that concludes our 2013 retrospective, covering all of the biggest, most-read stories on GameSpot.com. Now that the new consoles have (probably) been revealed (you can never rule out a surprise dark horse), let’s hope 2014 will be just as fun and exciting as this year has been.

Happy New Year!

Discussion

221 comments
chyng85
chyng85

Happy New Year~

LoL is fantastic~ 

Coolspot18
Coolspot18

What's with Microsoft Product Management these days?


Windows 8

Windows Phone

Surface RT vs Surface

Xbox One


The list of screwed up launch is growing quite long...

agrx
agrx

The hell kind of PC are they even using in that video?

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

Despite the technological problems cropping up with new games and new tech, I think that the best solution is more research into more and better technology rather than abandoning that direction.  The only way to defend against privacy invasions and to fix broken software and try to prevent such things in the future is to learn what went wrong and do better.

To 2014 and a better future!

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

In other news, the WiiU hasn't had any hardware failures and is a nifty system, despite its general lack of games.  Wind Waker HD and Super Mario 3D world are a blast.

megakick
megakick

Geez that is pretty upsetting unlike the XBOX 360 and PS4 which where pretty good for it's time the new gen consoles are practically smartphones and they still having issues.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

I skipped next gen for now and bought a crap load of current gen games for great prices!

cody20
cody20

I had no idea League of Legends events were such a large draw for people.  That just shows you how the changing age demographics are moving more toward gaming events and less toward traditional sporting events.  Gamespot should do an article on this change in entertainment resulting from differing generations.  Looking forward to 2014. 

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

Im happy. I havent bothered with nextgen.. Instead, i bought  ashtload of RTS games and heroes of might and magic 5 on STEAM and all the tomb raiders and tons of lastgen games and point and click adventures and Age of empies 2 and company of heroes, Dawn of war, Surpreme commander, all the bioshocks, max Paynes, Splinter cells and all the facrcrys and Crysis's and Arma 1,2 and 3 and some others and yes im now officially broke because STEAM is like a gaming crackhouse. I feel like ive just spent a whole weekend at some dark alleyway STEAM gaming arcade crackhouse and ive got digital STEAM needles hanging out my arm.


But i think im set for the whole of next year (accept for titanfall).


Nextgen can wait for awhile for me. I never buy the hype. I am pretty happy with what ive got from STEAM in the last week or so. 

quakke
quakke

Haha. Serves the right for idiots who keep supporting the crap by buying it. hhaha..

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

dying light looks pretty good, always nice to see innovation in genres that are overplayed to make em fresh again

Tyler Dnap VanNeste
Tyler Dnap VanNeste

that just means your using the same version as the devs, which is there for testing, before the update or whatever gets released to the community, doesn't mean it will brick your system if your not a dev. But it isn't bug free version, which could actually brick your system in the right situation. If your not a dev, or not a developing or bug reporting, you should not use a dev mod, as its for making content, and debugging game bugs, not for everyday use

Tyler Dnap VanNeste
Tyler Dnap VanNeste

should be fine, as your gpu and cpu are running off the same coolant fan, so it should be generally HOT, anywhere between 60C idle, and 95C active is normal, not the best but anything higher then 95 will result in failure. They need better coolant, like a front intake fan would be nice :P

Tyler Dnap VanNeste
Tyler Dnap VanNeste

that's what a warrantee is for, u know the devs say it should work, but if any chance there's a issue, that's not on your end, they send u a new one without having to buy another one xD

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

I've been an avid console gamer since the Atari 2600. November 22nd was the first time I ever purchased a console on day 1. I had my reservations, not because of all the controversy surrounding the X1 up to its release, but more because of the RROD fiasco of the past, I was afraid I would get a defective console.


Luckily, I did not. Everything went as planned, I got 6 launch games on day 1, all digital....and played non-stop launch weekend. The excitement and build-up leading up to that date was overwhelming. I remember watching the launch events the night before,  with people lining up for midnight launches..... to see that passion was great.


At the end of the day I'm very happy to have been part of the "Early adopters" group. It was a risky decision, but it payed off for me and I'm still having a great time with my purchases. Games like Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3 have been eating up all my free time, and this is a great way to finish the year.


Whichever console you guys chose, I hope you are happy with your choice and have been as fortunate as me in getting what you were waiting for. At the end of the day, it's about the games, and being entertained.


Happy Holidays Gamespot!

HartPuncher
HartPuncher

This is why I don't buy at launce for anything! Cars and Electronics! Always bugs

ravenglass1
ravenglass1

the games are made for last gen system to expensive to make two games so we are stuck with the lesser of two

ravenglass1
ravenglass1

look around the 320 mark look at the transition from Ps4 to Xbox one Xbox looks so much better

look at the vending machine to start

Eric Dionis
Eric Dionis

Ps4 ainda o melhor....o mais jogado!!!

crognalsen
crognalsen

I'm not sure what the bonus is for being an early adopter of these systems.  I guess there are a lot of people with money to spend.  I'd rather stick to my PC/Xbox 360.  If I were buying a console right now or if I had a kid and was buying a console for them I'd get a PS3.  It's hardware problems have been worked out, it has a much larger library or games, and it's much cheaper.  In a few years these consoles will be 100 to 200 dollars cheaper and have a much better library of games available.

Zevvion
Zevvion

The only ones who are surprised that these machines aren't doing what they are supposed to yet, are people who have never experienced a console launch in their life. 


It's really simple: when a console launches it will not be feature complete, the launch games do not represent what the machines can do and there will be very few games coming out for 6-18 months. 


This is always the case. No surprise. Meanwhile, I just enjoy experiencing it when it's first released. There is nothing wrong with that.

nixon45jm
nixon45jm

I dont that PC is maxed out.

barrica
barrica

 “The Xbox One is 720p, but it upscales to 1080p. So it is a 1080p output on your TV. The differences are probably more subtle than some people would notice, but some people will notice.” Meanwhile, Sony took advantage of the opportunity to claim that native 1080p that allows you to become a better gamer"  

Steam machine is going to revolutionize, i plan on buying a next gen console to be that stepping stone. Sony graphics do look the better than Xbox One but my problem is one TITANFALL.

auntbessie
auntbessie

Still waiting for my replacement XBox One as the one I have won't turn on, kind of spoilt Xmas to some extent

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

I call bullshit on that comparison because the PS4 image actually has more image in it than the other two.

AtheistPreacher
AtheistPreacher

My, my.  An editor really needs to read through this again.  I caught three typos and I wasn't even looking that hard.

Ryan Fricks
Ryan Fricks

Bought my PS4 launch day and it waited until Christmas day to give me a catastrophic failure. It wlLuckily the One is still going. Heres to hoping that it at least makes it until they ship me my New PS4.

BadMrSnake
BadMrSnake

I think this is the first ever same gen. re-release for twice the price!  The Ps4/Xbox One can do nothing significantly better than their predacessors.  And yet with the same glitches & grinding problems that they still can't fix!  Why bother? 

Wayne G Ezard
Wayne G Ezard

Ps4 works fine don't know what your talking about

deathstream
deathstream

Microsoft did not "[pull] the option for owners to download the update separately on a USB".  They said from the beginning that a day one internet connection was required.  Someone dug around on their tech support site and found a tech support file and posted it as an offline way to do the update, but that is NOT what it was.  Typical lazy reporting from Gamespot.

Cameron Lale
Cameron Lale

Pretty sure both consoles had more then the 0.4% acceptable... Certainly not as bad as the 360 core edition though xD

Cameron Lale
Cameron Lale

As has my XboxOne. unfortunately these problems NEEDED to be publicly beta tested basically. If we waited until they 'fixed' them, before they put them out, we'd run into other problems that arise. The unfortunate truth is that Millions of people run into problems that a small studio of testers are less likely to run into, making problems almost inevitable.

Cameron Lale
Cameron Lale

Well, since MS sent out the core 360s when they knew there was like a 68% or higher chance of hardware failure, Not a hard bar to overcome.

cjtopspin
cjtopspin

I don't understand why people buy these things on launch day.

dark_sith_
dark_sith_

@DiverseGamerMe too. There is simply too much stuff from current gen I haven't played to be bothered by next-gen. Plus I play most of my games on PC, and so it will be building a new machine in late 2014 for me instead of buying PS4 or Xbox One.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

@nixon45jm If you are talking about the Assassin's Creed video there are many things wrong with the video and it doesn't represent what the game would look like in person.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

@barrica Build a PC and play all the best games of the next gen. You could probably even just upgrade a PC you already have and be fine.

d34dp00l_187
d34dp00l_187

@deathstreamBut, why? Why should I HAVE to connect it to the internet for an update? I remember when game systems didn't need them.

Xirtahm
Xirtahm

@cjtopspinVery rarely is it worthwhile to buy a launch console...  I can only think of one in the past fifteen years:  The PS3.  Why?  It's nice to have one backwards-compatible machine that can play all my PS1 and PS2 games.

d34dp00l_187
d34dp00l_187

@Toysoldier34@nixon45jmBlah blah blah. Always PC elitism. Just shut up. We know... It'll always look better on PC. Quit reminding those of us who prefer a console. Go brag about your steam deals to someone who cares.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@Xirtahm @cjtopspin Clearly you don't understand what you just said. There was literally nothing to do or play on PS3 when it came out and for over a year afterwards - meaning you paid 700 dollars for a BD player that also plays your PS2 and PS1 games, poorly. You could have just kept your PS2.