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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hippiesanta

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So should they blame foxxcon and chinese student part time manufacture employee for sabotage ps4?

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >> they should blame amazon, most of the problems I heard came from them. mine is broken and amazon shipped it

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danbodamnit

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> amazon was just the biggest online shipment, so of course they will be the loudest. large majority came from stores, there isnt a good place for the ones who bought it in stores to leave a review, and the few who do and labled a liar...

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SpicaAntares

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

BTW, for those worried about slave labors and workers pushed to the limit: seems they should ask Amazon about life in their warehouses.

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SpicaAntares

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They should blame life itself. The other day bought a bag of carrots and couldn't find 2 carrots exactly alike in the bag. What is the world coming to, I ask?

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gamrinline

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They should blame this whole thing

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gamrinline

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Prob a lie

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gamrinline

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Abc news just released a report

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tyrone20006

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I am a bit concern because at the end of the day sony wants our money and I am from the uk and I have preordered my ps4 which cost me £350 then u have £50 per game I don't really want to spend my hard earned cash on a product that might not work when I take it home.

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SpicaAntares

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Get yourself a rubber duck. You'll spend pennies and it'll work when you get home. Kwack, kwack, every time you squeeze it. Works every time, all the time and never has any defects whatsoever.

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Yomigaeru

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Lies...lies and slander! My rubber duck says "M'kack!" instead of "Quack!". When you can't even get a rubber duck that's defect free, you know the world is in deep shit...

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MooncalfReviews

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It's a little bit early to saying how serious this is, isn't it? I mean how much stress could a console be under, with just 1 week of play?

I'm holding off on "next gen" console purchases for at least a year.

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MatthewSnyder86

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I have been having, zero issues despite the fact that I need PS+, it's working very well, I think I'll hold on Plus until DICE patches the BF4 servers. Anyways the games I want to get come out next year, Infamous Second Son, The Order 1886, Uncharted, Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition, and we all know Star Wars Battlefront isn't coming out until, 2015 so...............yeah.

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Raeldor

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Retailers should have reserved a certain amount of PS4s to replace customer's broken ones instead of being greedy and selling them all then.

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wowwow27

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<< LINK REMOVED >> who said they didn't? i keep reading this, but they were all set to send us out a box and everything if our system was broken.

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Raeldor

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I keep reading stories of people who are waiting 2-3 weeks for repair because they have no replacements at the store or online where they purchased. Which store was ready to send you out a replacement?

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SpicaAntares

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@RiviNOX

There might be a problem with Amazon, you know. Some people complain about their Amazon products and from what I heard: seems Amazon likes to push their workers until breakdown, in their warehouses. We might be paying a huge price to save pennies ordering from them.

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RiviNOX

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@Raeldor @wowwow27 Sony already shipped me a box for the return, but I've decided to go with Amazon. They are suppose to be shipping me a replacement -New PS4- as soon as one becomes available. I dont even have to ship them the broken one first.

I already know what the problem is and how to fix it but it would void the 1 year warranty. My HDMI port has 3 pins broken off - this most likely happen due to a bent HDMI port plate which wedged the HDMI cable into the pins bending then shearing them off.

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SpicaAntares

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Agree. I think they should've been less greedy and sell everyone of them except one, for me that is.

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HAWK9600

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Sorry, if your product straight-up doesn't work out of the box......that's ridiculous. You need to manufacture a working product.

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SpicaAntares

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@HAWK9600

Me I don't have one but wish I did, working or broken, I don't care.

Think I'll go buy an underpowered Xbox One on the 22nd, just to pass time, until I can exchange it for a PS4 when their inventory goes up.

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> trust me working is better but to each their own

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >> mine is broken doa

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> im elvis

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Bansheezs

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I think amazon broke it

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Bansheezs

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I've tried 3 different hdmi cables, 2 different tvs. Everything looks to be ok with the hdmi port when I looked closely at it. I can't even get the ps4 to stop blinking blue or go to safe mode.

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RiviNOX

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> you most likely broke the pins in the HDMI port or HDMI cable. That or you don't have the HDMI cable in all the way, it should be almost flush with little gap. Or you have a bent port plate which won't let the cable go in all the way.

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I bought mine on amazon, lucky for me I have a sony store near me I can trade it in for.... if they actually had any available

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MooncalfReviews

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@Bansheezs

99% of people saying these kinds of things are Xbox fanboys who haven't even bought the PS4. You have a Halo avatar, which is a telltale sign.

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> nope still broken. what a pos

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> go forth and do good deeds! but seriously I hope it works

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> trying a new hard drive as we speak. I am downloading the ps4 update to a flash drive

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> but mine actually works

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> that's the point mate anyone can say anything on the world wide web

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translucent17

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<< LINK REMOVED >> mine works

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translucent17

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is this where everyone is raging?

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SpicaAntares

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<< LINK REMOVED >>

Nops, they rage everywhere. It's a question of style you see. Many feels they have a personality when they complain about something, or are arrogant in some ways to others. All you have to do is throw them a peanut here and there to wake them and once they're awake you slap them with the biggest banana you can find.

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Yomigaeru

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I'm not sure what you said...but I like the way you said it.

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Meteor7

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I will buy the new consoles, but I am sure I will be waiting for a few months until more titles come out and most of the problems are fixed.

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Amon_Asmodeus

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not rushing yet with an PS4 no games for my taste yet and all this next gen console drama, people expect miracles and with some little bugs or bad transportation or whatever, mass panic starts becouse emotions are viral to all the animals who get infected spread it further.

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PupilsDilated

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That's why you don't pre-order consoles. That's fine with games, but consoles...no way! I'm waiting until January to make a purchase. I'm still not sure which one to get.

But the odds are in favor of the Xbox One.

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wowwow27

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@PupilsDilated no sense waiting on games, shoot, in a month there half price, rather waste all my cash before i even know if its good! especially zelda on the 3DS, that game is gonna ROCK! seriuslly!

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Wahab_MinSeo

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That Why I leave PlayStation 4 Alone, waiting unite they make the console Right & trusted!

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choco64

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doesn't matter which console you get, these companies need to sort their QC issues out because the consumer pays for and expects their product to work

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SpicaAntares

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<< LINK REMOVED >>

Consumers also expect that a percentage of mass-produced electronic gizmos fails. That's why everything comes with a warranty, in case you don't know, including cell phones, tablets, TVs, cars, you name it... Everything has a percentage of defect, including some of the pills you should take, if you don't.

But maybe your too young and never had to bring back something to the store. Go ask your parents, I'm sure they can help.

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Xbox1day1

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I pre ordered the one but if ps4 can put out some tight exclusives or prove to be better for gaming I will get the ps4 with income tax also. My girl and I love not having kids lol

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