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.

No Caption Provided

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 Bansheezs
Bansheezs

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mine is broken. I bet the defect percentage is closer to 5%

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WolfGrey

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Coming from a guy with your username and avatar.... don't believe you.

Not to mention just because yours is broken(which i doubt) doesn't mean the percent is higher. Your not THAT important.

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Bansheezs

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Its been quite a few reports I have been hearing about broken ones. I just called sony for a replacement box to be shipped. Maybe the replacement will work. I am taking my bets in 1 out of 20 are broken

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vVv_ORION

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I had a launch 360 and it lasted over a year before it red ringed


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SpicaAntares

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Agree. At least they replaced them with nicely working ones. Mine still works perfectly after all these years.

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Bansheezs

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Mine 360 just broke a year later lol. I would rather have it break later then doa

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SpicaAntares

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"at least my 360 wasn't doa"

Do you know the percentage of 360 affected by RRoD, while MS knew of the problem but put their head in the sand and kept on selling these consoles? I don't think there's something equivalent in the history of mass-produced electronic gizmos, ever.

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Busta

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<< LINK REMOVED >> And you're holding up the 360 as the system that wasn't doa? Ok.. I've been trolled.

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Bansheezs

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at least my 360 wasn't doa. I just wish they would do something to help the situation. I have a sony store near me. if the replacement box isn't hear soon I will try to trade it in for a new on there. They don't have any in stock though

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WolfGrey

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@Bansheezs

Given the issue the 360 had and all, its the same cept on a far smaller scale. Launches always bring issues though.

That is our risk as early adopters.

But opposite to you, i have had pretty good experiences with their customer service.

One time my 50 dollar psn card fucked up and my entire 50 dollar funds that was in my wallet on psn went poof. They completely gave me back my 50 wallet funds plus 10 dollars more as an apology.


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Bansheezs

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This is the first sony product I had in a while. I am trying to jump ship from microsoft but sony is making it very hard for me to do so

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WolfGrey

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Maybe just annoyed from all the calls from the first few days of psn issues. Customer service is not a fun job. More often than not they deal with nasty people the majority of the time.

Given its part of their job to cope with it but give them a break. Trust me it sucks.

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Bansheezs

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I would be ok with them doing that. Just something other than an "I'm sorry" because they don't seem very sorry to me.

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WolfGrey

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Considering all they give with plus in the first place nah. Maybe a free 3 months or something. Or a psn card.

Thinking about Plus sales, that wouldnt be a bad deal.

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Bansheezs

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I would actually be ok with them replacing it if they gave me a little compensation in return. How about a free year of ps+ network. Or maybe a free download game. Something would be nice for the waste of time and effort to fix it for me is.

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WolfGrey

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@Bansheezs

Once again, the minority and negative are more vocal. The article says that on it's own. Just because you have heard of more doesn't mean its any more than what is mentioned.

Hell want to see the vocal minority screw up something? Go play LoL.

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deactivated-5eecdca5bab06

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This Foxconn allegation of work interns making the PS4s and not making them properly might be very true. Apparently Foxconn abuses it's workers for long labour times and poor wages which is why workers where probably motivated to not make the PS4s properly and do a quick half-ass job. The problems that I've researched through videos on YouTube span from this Blue light of Death situation to cracked consoles straight from the box, disc operation malfunctions, HDMI display malfunctions, overheating issue with the Red Light of Death, and probably more issues may occur. There are too many problems that the only conclusion I can agree upon is that the manufacturing process was ruined.

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SpicaAntares

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@nickyparmar92

BTW, Foxconn is one of the few, in the world that can mass produce millions of toys in a short time. That's why everybody goes there (including Apple with their shiny toys). No one cares for workers unless news of what going there influences the way they are perceived in the public eye. Then they send some PR guy who goes there and comes back, flapping his mouth on how much they care for workers.

They care so much for workers that all the industrial sector has been moved to Asia in the past 20 to 30 years. That's how much they care for workers.

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SpicaAntares

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"Apparently Foxconn abuses it's workers for long labour times and poor wages which is why workers where probably motivated to not make the PS4s properly..."

They don't have to be motivated or not. All it takes to make an error is to get pushed in the back by some monkey who thinks he's the re-incarnation of Julius Cesar because someone at the top thought he would be a "good boss". All it takes is being tired, breathing dust for hours, standing up for hours until your legs hurt, and so on.

It's not just a question of being Sony, MS or Apple, it's a question of indecency. The indecency of displacing all manufacturing sector to Asia on the pretense that workers here gain too much while at the same time giving yourself millions in bonuses and whatever 'because it's the market' or some other shitty excuses.

Are you aware that in Swiss, next sunday, there's a referendum to block bosses wages at 12 time the salary of an ordinary worker. My god you should see their reaction... 'the end of the world is coming' if it passes, they say. World stops turning, anyone smarter than a lemming will leave the country, mass-unemployment and so on... all scarecrows they could think of were used in a vast publicity campaign to stop that calamity.

About time we use the rope on those who deserve it, if you ask...

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ntac70

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@SpicaAntares @nickyparmar92 - Well the US is not Europe, which is based on a more socialized/centralized form of government. That appears to be changing however, where we are seeing more government jobs being created and fewer private sector jobs created, and the government drones are mandating what the private sector does more and more. It's nobody's damned business how much a boss makes over an employee...not anymore than it is for one employee to know how much another employee makes. The bed wetters that don't agree with that can go pound sand and get a government job!

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ntac70

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> WTF are you talking about? The hell's SLAVERY got to do with socialism? OH WAIT! If anything, being dependent ON government makes you a slave TO the government! Don't cross wits with me sport, you'll lose.

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SpicaAntares

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You would've been an happy man in the time of slavery. Too bad times change, isn't it?

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jk12324

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@nickyparmar92 and during your "research through videos on YouTube", I'm guessing you've missed the tens of thousands of videos from people recording/streaming a game from their fully functioning PS4? Have you never bought a tech/electronic product only to end up having to take it back because there was something wrong with it? Problems are expected and normal. I just ordered my second Nexus 5 replacement from Google an hour ago because of different issues from the first 2 handsets. It's only because the PS4 was such a highly anticipated and publicised launch coupled with fanboyism that it gets completely blown out of proportion. A lot of the negative reviews aren't even Amazon Verified Purchases.

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deactivated-5eecdca5bab06

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I'm not saying that this is what really happened with Foxconn. I'm just looking at the evidence of some articles published and thinking about how many different problems the PS4 has had to many users, even if the users having the problems are a small scale compared to the success scale. If no Foxconn allegation was made I would have no evidence to portray on and therefore would not have made my first comment.

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SpicaAntares

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I know that some of you guys are waiting for 22nd to enjoy the pleasure of an Xbox One. Question is: why wait? Why wait when you can enjoy today all the benefits that comes with owning a WII, jumping up and down in your living, waving arms here and there, with something equivalent in terms of raw graphical power and for much less money? Nintendo has the failure rate much under control, the console is less expensive and you'll have many games available for sale without any waiting. You'll be able to enjoy today's state-of-art gameplay without the cost of a Kinect or Xbox Live Gold.

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KanchiX

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Nope, those are for your mom and dad.
Trust us, watching all this ps4 hell break loose is plenty entertainment enough, most of us probably won't even waste our money like you fools, we'll purchase 2nd gen systems with most if not all issues ironed out. And at least we won't have wasted money on any f2p games which many have been released up to 7 months prior to this systems release.
Not trying to hard on new titles there are they?

Glad to see Sony is finally trying to rip off Gears of War... Good luck with that ;)

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SpicaAntares

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"Glad to see Sony is finally trying to rip off Gears of War... "

Sony doesn't have to rip off Gears of War, Epic sent the franchise in the ground at the 3rd installment. 1st one was good, 2nd one was great, 3rd was a disaster, Judgment was DOA. Played all of them with my girlfriend and I still cringe thinking of the third. You stopped to look at the environment, or to take some ammo or some other weapon, and all computer-controlled teammates went ahead to kill enemies. When you got there half were already dead. God damn fun game to play... I'll pass on commenting Judgment.

Killzone, I'm sure, ain't much better. Never was too found of games that hold you by the hand, puts you on a rail and forced you to do something. I like freedom better, thank you. Worst games were of the Modern Warfare type: destroy the tank, destroy the tank, go destroy the tank, no you won't do anything else if you don't destroy the tank, take the bazooka and destroy the tank, go on and destroy the tank!...

What can I say? We are stuck with what's out. If something better was available something else would be bought and most of these new games we see now would stay on tablets.

Still I don't see any reason to help MS. Not after having tried to stab customers in the back with their shenanigans a few months back, not after trying to push down our throat their Kinect, Pay-Tv services that can only work with another pay-service called Xbox Live Gold, and every gimmicks they can think of while at the same time putting in the market an underpowered console selling for more.

If only they had the decency to sell it for less. Less power, less expensive = good equation. But no! one has to make money right. They'll pay a high price for that attitude!


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WolfGrey

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@KanchiX @SpicaAntares

So much fail here.

Like the X1's titles are any better.

DR3 is a mess.

Ryse is just a button masher.

Point is, both launch line ups arent that great. Tbh Killzone is the only exclusive i care about otherwise, i just want the multi platforms right now.


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KanchiX

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>
Damn....
Good excuse o.o

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WolfGrey

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Because i am bored dammit.

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KanchiX

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Then why did you post, we were fine until you brought the fail along.

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Dynamite_SJ

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i dont see the hype of gettin ps4 at launch... weak launch titles..

cod ghost? bf4? ... a downgrade if you a pc user / not that much of an upgrade if you a ps3 user

Killzone?! its a average shooter... a year from its release.. it wont be talked about

Lots of talk ive been hearing is F2P games? Warframe/dcu o/ blacklight... really? Preorder a system and take a launch risk for F2P games that been out on pc for 6mo - to a year.

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WolfGrey

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@Dynamite_SJ

At least they are high quality F2P and aren't behind a pay wall. For console gamers(and there is more console gamers than pc gamers) its all new to them, well cept DCUO.

That said i have like 400 hours into Warframe lol

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Dynamite_SJ

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<< LINK REMOVED >> well... warframe is a hit and miss game... its either you like it or you dont. me and my buddies got it on steam and it wasnt our cup of tea. Is a $400 dollar system at launch really worth that game that you can easily run it on pc hardware? If your the unlucky ones... i dont believe the 0.4%... then you have to deal with this:
<< LINK REMOVED >>

Sony should make it right for those who preordered the system all those months and get one asap... not money in the bank and continuing to make money while early adopters wait.

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IncinX

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@Dynamite_SJ What's funny is... all the games you mentioned (except killzone) have been on the PC for a while, have been cheaper and have better graphics.

For the record, I am not trashing consoles, just stating some facts that I found amusing.

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Dynamite_SJ

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<< LINK REMOVED >> thats my point... the risk of getting the ps4 console for these launch titles to face issues isnt worth the trouble.. im mostly a pc gamer.. if the game is on pc .. thats what i get it for. I'll eventually get both systems for the exclusives.

That being said.. i got the xbox one on preorder not for the whole console war.. but the fact that the exclusives at launch is enough to get me to bite. Been a dead rising fan and also Killer Instinct is gonna be a killer game.

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dannichi

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this is cool

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stylyy

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<< LINK REMOVED >> yea it is!

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sergiodoom

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I better wait for the slim version...

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Dynamite_SJ

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You get a year waranty with it.. no problem.

<< LINK REMOVED >>

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OHGFawx

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If you buy at launch, you take this chance. Doesn't matter what console, or what generation.

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IncinX

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<< LINK REMOVED >> "Doesn't matter what console"... you may be right, you may be wrong... let's see if the Xbox One is better or worse.

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OHGFawx

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<< LINK REMOVED >> After the red ring debacle I'll be shocked if Xbones have anything beyond a reasonable console failure percentage. The 360 mess all stemmed from them rushing to have a year head start on Sony. If it happens again, heads will roll at Microsoft.

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Random_Virus

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Consumers are upset because they aren't taking the chance. They're buying a premium priced product expected to work.

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mjonk2pc

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Really? What's premium priced about $400. I bought a $2500 refridgerator that broke the 3rd day I had it. I didn't whine half as much as the crying bitches on all these sites. My PS4 has been running great, no issue at all. I keep a temp gauge on it, the air temp never goes above 105 F on the exhaust side. Pretty amazing. I love the damn thing

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Phooey442

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Anything with moving parts can break. If you expect everything to work exactly as supposed to, you're going to have a bad time.

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OHGFawx

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Read the stories of the horrible conditions the workers who assemble these launch consoles are put under. The word "forced" appears a lot in these stories. There are even rampant claims of sabotage from interns who were forced into assembling PS4's. I'm not worried about consumers being upset, when I buy mine (summer at the earliest), it will work fine, and I'll probably get a better deal to boot.

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>
OHGFawx,
You are wise, doing the same for the XB1.

In the mean time let's just laugh at 'em.
Cuz as they saaaaay--- "Haters gon' hate!"

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OHGFawx

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Ok, Sony's not stealing their money. They will get a working console at some point. Sony says they expect 4,000 out of every 1 million launch consoles to fail, so its not like they're covering it up, they're even the ones who broke the story about console sabotage from angry workers. If you happen to get one that fails, send it back, writing a scathing review online will change absolutely nothing. Those that choose to wait will run a significantly lower risk of buying a brick because those consoles weren't assembled under such furiously hurried conditions, that's simply a fact.

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Random_Virus

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> And it will still have been assembled by what amounts to slave labor. You almost stake a claim of righteousness.

Consumers have a right to protection, just like workers should, but these are two different issues.

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Izak80

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<< LINK REMOVED >> yeah, you're right.

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