PS4 Rollout Plagued by Blue Light of Death
by Maria Welych - Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The problem might be even worse than initially thought.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 is off to a great start, with the company reporting that it sold 1 million units in the first 24 hours. But the launch has been marred by what’s being called the blue light of death.

When some gamers hooked up their new consoles and turned them on, all they saw was the blue LED power indicator light flashing at them. When a PS4 is turned on, the light that runs along the side of the console should first pulse blue, then switch to white. As it does, the console should send a signal to the TV to which it is linked. Those who have the blue light of death are seeing their PS4s pulse blue, never switch to white and never send a signal to their TV.

Sony was quick to point out that they expected a failure rate of 0.4 percent. With 1 million consoles sold, that amounts to 4,000 broken devices.

But when I checked Amazon Monday night, 25.6 percent of the people who left reviews gave the console only one star.

Many people said the device was dead on arrival and blasted Sony for taking two to three weeks to repair the unit or send a new one. Amazon’s customer service has put into place a new procedure for defective PS4 units. The company will send a new unit immediately, then customers can return the defective console after testing the replacement.

Sony posted a troubleshooting guide Sunday that included such tips as holding down the power button for seven seconds, unplugging the console and then powering it back on. The company also recommends checking the seating of the hard drive and ensuring that the firmware of the connected TV is up to date.

Kotaku writer Stephen Totilo reported that he’s heard from people who have gotten the blue light of death, and none of them have been able to fix the problem with the simple steps that Sony has outlined.

The problem might be even worse than initially thought. Tech news website Neowin reported that a Foxconn intern’s post on the IGN website forum said interns at the plant manufacturing the PS4s sabotaged the machines because they were angry over poor working conditions. The post, written in Chinese, has since been removed.

If all this news has you rethinking your plans to buy a PS4, consider getting an Xbox One, which is being released Friday, Nov. 22.

Bits & Pieces

  • It didn’t take long for the first video of someone destroying a PlayStation 4 to be posted. Richard Ryan, host of the YouTube channel Rated RR, shot his with a .50-caliber rifle at a gun range and posted the video on Nov. 14, a day before the console’s release.
  • Ithaca father Erik Lehmann started an anti-violent video game group called Game Changers in response to the Sandy Hook massacre. The group held its first event on Nov. 15 — the day the PlayStation 4 console was released — in which young people were encouraged to bring a violent video game or movie that was broken and turned into art.
  • The FBI is warning of a campaign by a mysterious Internet hacking group to breach federal agencies’ computer systems and the resulting theft of thousands of people’s personal information. According to a memo obtained by Reuters, hackers associated with Anonymous exploited a flaw in Adobe Systems’ ColdFusion software — used to construct websites — to accomplish the break-ins. Among the affected agencies were the Army, the Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services, although the FBI memo reportedly warns the damage could be far more widespread.
  • Unity, a game development engine that enables any gaming enthusiast with basic knowledge to create his own video game, has released version 4.3, which has improved tools for 2D video game developers.
  • The video game industry enjoyed its third consecutive month of sales growth in October, a 5 percent increase over the same month a year earlier. Total video game sales hit $791.1 million last month, up from the $755.7 million made in October 2012.
  • New analysis from Adobe Digital Index reveals that building an app is a better way of engaging customers than mobile websites. Consumers use smartphone apps more than twice as often as they visit mobile websites, spending three to four times longer on the app, as well.
  • Motorola is going after the cheap smartphone market with its new handset, the Moto G. The hardware is very similar to the higher-priced Moto X. It will ship with Android 4.3, but the company promises that it will be upgraded to 4.4 KitKat. It will be available contract-free in the United States for $179 in a 8GB model or $199 with 16GB of storage.

Maria Welych, who was technology editor at The Post-Standard for five years, is director of marketing and public relations at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology. She can be reached at mwelych@gmail.com.

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