It's time to talk about something nobody else is talking about: The PlayStation 4 launch. Wait, what I mean to say is that we're going to be talking about some of the major problems that have already plagued the console's launch successes, despite the units being in hands of consumers for less than a week. From the time we witnessed the announcement of the $400 price point at E3, we predicted that Sony was going to have to cut corners in order to not only stay competitive against Microsoft, but to not lose a tremendous amount of money on the console, like they did with the PS3. However, I wouldn't have imagined that the PS4, while feeling sturdy in the hands at 6.1 pounds, would fall apart like a cheaply made plastic box. I should point out though, that the lack of any disclosed improvement to the PlayStation Network servers does seem to correlate with the online and connectivity problems that the PS4 is already facing.
The hardware itself seems to be causing problems right from the start. Even before units were released to the public, there were reports of PS4s freezing, crashing and overheating. Some consoles are also pulsing with a blue light on the indicator, which has been documented in many places. Now, after official launch, many customers are still reporting that their devices are exceeding temperatures than the whole new iPad processor.
More hardware problems also come from the actual ports used on the console. In some consoles, a piece of metal in the HDMI port that is normally level with the bottom of the port actually points upward instead, causing the HDMI cable to not sit right in the slot. As a result, the system won't send a proper signal through the cable and no picture shows up on your TV or monitor. For some reason, several websites make this out to be a problem that can be overlooked, saying that the fix is "simple and easy." For me, this is not the case, seeing that something as important as the HDMI port - the only video output on the console - should be tested and working on any unit that leaves the manufacturing plant. This is especially pertinent to the review units that go out to press, which I've personally been in front of three different PS4s that have all had this problem. We do have some good news, too. If you contact Sony and make them aware of the problem, the company will offer to swap the unit out for you, but I haven't heard any official stances on the issue other than that Sony is "closely monitoring for additional reports, but (we) think these are isolated incidents and are on track for a great launch."
And, the problems don't stop there. Electronic Arts had to issue an official statement on Sony's 1.5 firmware update, pretty much saying that any EA game that crashed, froze or didn't work on the PS4 was Sony's fault. It read,
Sony has released a firmware update for the PlayStation 4 that is required for many features on the console. However, this update also results in stability issues while playing games on the system. This affects all games on the PS4, including EA titles, causing crashing/freezing and non-responsive connections between the player's console and their TV Screen.
Since then, EA has retracted its statement, with the website now saying that the message was posted in error. But for a company as large as EA to post something like that, it speaks volumes for some of the complications that have come out of this next-gen launch.
Then there's the online connectivity issues. At the strike of midnight, more than 100,000 people flocked to their favorite electronic stores, picked up their PS4 and headed home, only to find they could not connect to the PlayStation Network. Sony's response was that,
PSN seeing very high volume, some gamers may experience difficulty connecting, thanks for your patience. If you're getting a network error on the PS4, please sit tight. As you can imagine, we're seeing heavy traffic tonight.
To me it sounded like, "Can't connect? Just wait more." Obviously it had to do with the day-one update to firmware 1.5, which unlocked a lot of features of the PS4 that were unavailable prior to the update. To circumvent the issues, users could have downloaded the update to the USB device before launch night, however it's apparent not many people chose to do this. To add to the online problems, hundreds of posts on the PS4 support forums have indicated users experiencing error codes when logging in to the PlayStation Network, so many that Sony had to issue a statement on two error codes in particular.
Sadly, this is all just the tip of the iceberg, but before you say it, I know that all mass-produced pieces of hardware will have a defect. In fact, I know that the Xbox 360 had problems, the PS3 had problems and the Xbox One will probably have problems, too. This is more of an awareness thing, and an attempt to bring back unbiased takes on products when they hit the market. At no point should a problem be overlooked because it's stemming from a particular device from a particular brand. And at no point should we as consumers accept anything less than what was promised from the companies we hand our money to. Just to point out, there's still no fix for the blue pulsing light of death, either, and that's probably due to not enough people standing up and demanding a fix.
So even though I'm an avid Xbox fan, I'll stand up for you. Sony, time to address the problems and not avoid them like the SimCity or Diablo III launches. Fix your hardware that's $100 cheaper than your competitor; it's too soon to offer up a 2.0 version of the PS4.