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

Seemingly isolated issues frustrate thousands of consumers.

3612 Comments

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.

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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.

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Avatar image for jasonlc3221
jasonlc3221

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

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Jdzspace

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<< LINK REMOVED >> - fastest selling console of all time.......your wait was over 24 hour after launch.

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klepp0906

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I know right? Gotta love the trolls.

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RT-XD

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> not exactly great when half of them are all broken XD

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RT-XD

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> So is yours XD

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RT-XD

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Really? Cool. Where do you get the figures from though?

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IamCuddles

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Your mom is fat and ugly. XD


XD <-- means I'm joking and friendly

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Zerabp

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Actually so far it seems that the .04 is higher then the actual numbers...

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Avatar image for RT-XD
RT-XD

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<< LINK REMOVED >> 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

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klepp0906

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

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klepp0906

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Lol that made my day.

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klepp0906

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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.

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Avatar image for RT-XD
RT-XD

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I realise it says that, but those are Sony's figures...and I doubt they will give an accurate number

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Anthonyccc

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> less than 1% are, .4 to be exact.

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Bansheezs

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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!

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Warrenalan1983

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<< LINK REMOVED >> lol you idiot, you send it back to where u bought it not to the manufacture, u know nothing

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danbodamnit

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

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thedeadraptor

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0.4 percent failure rate for PS4 huh? Lets see if XBox One can level it!

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C-P-30

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<< LINK REMOVED >> on average intel's ssd failure rate is around 0.5%... so 0.4% isn't bad and remember intel has the less rate of failure

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klepp0906

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Ty for stating the obvious :p

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ne0182

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<< LINK REMOVED >> looks like you're waiting for a 0.41 and above^^

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alpha_unit97

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Hence why you never buy a console at launch.

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klepp0906

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I've bought all mine at launch. Granted waiting for games can suck, I have my PC for interim gaming :p

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Anthonyccc

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Here is why the reviews are so bad:

<< LINK REMOVED >>

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Sevenizz

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Nice copy/paste job = here's the reality as of this writing...

<< LINK REMOVED >>

All but 2 are 'verified purchases'.
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tsvca

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>there are lots of one star "amazon verified purchase" also.. you selected a few to incriminate the 25% one star reviews.. i guess you must be a lawyer..

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gamrinline

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They have smart chips

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tendoboy1984

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Why don't tablets and smartphones have massive hardware failures? They don't have cooling fans to disperse heat, nor do they have any air vents.

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klepp0906

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They do. I just had to return an almost brand new iphone. 5 because the display just quit. Sad day indeed driving 20 miles for an exchange at the apple store.

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Lacarus

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They do. But the market is broader and they're not releasing one new version every 7th/8th year, but sometimes twice a year. The sensation is therefore less evident. And service is more well-oiled and replacement units are easier to come by.

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ZombieGuyGeorge

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<< LINK REMOVED >> actually they have. this is my third xperia sp and my mom's tablet died last week after two weeks of use.

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gamrinline

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I went back and forth between the 360 and ps3. 360 was too loud and I hated the avatar. But 360 had better graphics. Ps3 had lots of games and free online. I ended with Ps3 as my choice. 360 had the best controller. I am looking forward to xboxone. I think it will win this gen. They also got rid of that stupid avatar.

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klepp0906

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Win what?

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klepp0906

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Yikes your post lost all clout when you said the xbox had better graphics. Even if you argued that you were half blind , statistically, by the numbers.. It's not possible on anything other than a subjective level.

While I'm nitpicking, if you mean number of units sold by "win" then it won last time too..............

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tendoboy1984

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Hey I like Avatars and Miis.

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tendoboy1984

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PS4 is the new Xbox 360? How ironic, considering Sony is the one with the most hardware experience.

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klepp0906

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O.o

We have a like button, why not a dislike button? Is this like the koomboyah of web pages?

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greater_bird

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<< LINK REMOVED >> We used to have a thumbs-down button, but Gamespot took it away a while ago. Not sure why. I think not having any method to signal disagreement just makes people use words to do the same, which leads to more ugliness.

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Blankkus

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I will be laughing if Microsoft ends up having a perfect launch without hardware failure when they release Xbox One.

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klepp0906

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Why? For one it's near an impossibility from a statistical standpoint, and for two.. From a relative standpoint the ps4 had a near perfect one already? It's failure rate is so far below the accepted average it's almost non existent. If we had people posting about the working units you wouldn't be able to find the posts about the non working ones. It's evident we have a forum full of blind and brainless instead of subjective and analytical. Use your brain before you post people. If that's too difficult Atleast try to Atleast use common sense.

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Warrenalan1983

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> what a moron,I would punch you if i could

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tendoboy1984

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

I wwouldn't doubt it since the Xbox One is huge and has a massive cooling fan and plenty of air vents. Looks like Microsoft finally learned their lessons from the Xbox 360 fiasco.

Now why don't tablets and smartphones have massive hardware failures? They don't have any cooling systems or fans to disperse heat.

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deactivated-5e94b41a6edd7

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And so it was, that 10,000 angry customers marched towards SONY japan,
with receipts in their hands and blood on their minds.
On that rainy night, the forces of SONY and elves took a stand and armed ready for war.
The customers came, the war chants echoing through the souls of SONY's employees,
And then, Kazuo Hirai raised his sword and said, "This is it" and war began.

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deactivated-5e94b41a6edd7

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Well sorry If I offended you, the poem was just suppose to be a funny.

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