The PS4’s ‘Blue light of death’

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Following news that the PS4 has sold over 1 million units within 24 hours come reports that a significant number of consoles are non-functional.

The ‘blue light’ or ‘blue pulse’ of death appears to relate to an indeterminate problem with the PS4’s ability to connect to a video output. Users have reported on Kotaku and IGN that the problem can relate to issues with third party HDMI cables proving incompatible all the way up to a faulty HDMI out of the console.

That said, as with the 360’s red ring of death being a signal that one of many things could be wrong, so too does the PS4’s blue light of death relate to more than a single issue. Fixes for the PS4 blue light of death include realigning bent metal in the PS4’s HDMI port, sticking to Sony brand HDMI cables and even installing the PS4’s day one patch via a USB stick rather than via download.

Sony has responded to the issue with assurances that they are investigating the problem on Twitter and have also published a troubleshooting guide which you can find here.

Sony’s troubleshooting guide recommends turning the PS4 off before holding the power button until the console beeps twice for a full system reset, before then checking the console for a visibly damaged HDMI port or AC adapter.

As with all new hardware, Sony cover the machine against manufacturing faults and hardware failure for a minimum of 12 months and, as such, they recommend contacting PS4 customer support which would ultimately result in a repair or replacement console.

Named the ‘blue light’ or ‘blue pulse’ of death by an Internet community still coloured by experiences with the Xbox 360’s infamous red ring of death, is this hardware problem a cause for major concern or to be expected during the launch of a new console?

Speaking to IGN, a Sony representative provided the following statement:

“A handful of people have reported issues with their PlayStation 4 systems. This is within our expectations for a new product introduction, and the vast majority of PS4 feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We are closely monitoring for additional reports, but we think these are isolated incidents and are on track for a great launch.

There have been several problems reported, which leads us to believe there isn’t a singular problem that could impact a broader percentage of systems. The number of affected systems represents less than 0.4% of shipped units to date, which is within our expectations for a new product introduction.”

To put that 0.4% into perspective – Sony sold 1 million units on launch day. This means that Sony’s projected number of PS4s affected by the blue light of death is below an expected failure rate of four thousand units. Yet even with the increased visibility afforded by the Internet, it will be impossible to yet gauge the scale of the blue light of death issue.

Nonetheless, the Internet has exploded with its typical penchant for hyperbole, fanboy rages and hilarious GIFs. Predictably, zealous Xbox fans have responded gleefully to the blue light of death as well as reports that the PSN is struggling to keep up with the server load placed on it by the number of PS4 users downloading day one patches and games.

PS4 blue light of death image 1

Should the Xbox One have a hitch and hardware failure free launch on November 22nd, it is entirely possible that the first round of the so-called ‘console war’ could be won by consumer reaction to a visible problem with hardware.

That said, memories of the Xbox 360’s red ring of death problem which cost Microsoft $1 billion still loom large, and even with Microsoft’s assurances that no such problem will occur and that they are fully prepared for large server loads, it is as yet impossible to tell.

These signs of a small yet noteworthy problem with PS4 hardware are the first shots fired in a crucial business quarter for both Sony and Microsoft – watching the development of the situation and the global launches of both consoles will no doubt be morbidly fascinating.

With the UK PS4 launch to soon follow and a Japanese launch coming February 22 2014, it is likely that the true number of PS4s affected by the blue light of death will not be forthcoming – important as negative Amazon reviews citing the blue light of death are in no way representative of the consumer base at large. Consumers worried about the possibility of a red ring of death level of hardware failure would be best advised to wait until the usual new hardware teething period is over.

As Sony stipulated, with the introduction of a new product to market, there is an expectation of a certain level of hardware failure. As an early adopter of the PS4 or Xbox One, there is an associated risk that certain features of the console will not yet work or that a small percentage of machines will be faulty and that you may be among that small percentage.

As horrid as it would be among those 4,000 or so consumers with faulty consoles, with present information the likelihood is that you would be among the 996,000 people with PS4s that are currently free from hardware failure.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House said Sony are expecting to sell five million PS4s by March 2014. Will you be among those 5 million PS4 owners, are you waiting for an Xbox One, or do hardware issues such as the blue light of death put you off buying a console at launch? Screen Robot wants to hear from you.


All images: Sony.

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