Sony managed to sell more than 1 million units of the PlayStation 4 within the first 24 hours of the console's North American launch last Friday. Amid reports of technical problems prior to launch, the company told Polygon that hardware issues were isolated incidents that comprised approximately 0.4 percent of launch units.
That's a relatively low failure rate for consumer electronics, but it still means that at least 4,000 of the PS4 buyers so far are receiving systems that don't work out of the box. Here's a roundup of the problems they're experiencing, and some possible solutions being offered by Sony and by PS4 users.
Blinking blue light of death
Problem: Of all the hardware problems PS4 users are suffering, this one seems to be the most prevalent. More than 26 percent of over 2,400 PS4 reviews on Amazon rate the system at one star out of five, and most of those negative reviews cite the blinking "blue light of death."
When the console boots up normally, the line of light on its top side (or its right side, if the unit is standing) is first illuminated in blue for a few seconds before turning white as the system begins to output audio and video. But for some users, the blue light never turns white — it stays blue and starts to blink, and the PS4 never sends a signal to the television.
Here's what it looks like:
Solutions: A member of Sony's support team posted a troubleshooting guide for this particular issue, suggesting a throw-everything-at-the-wall approach since the blinking light appears to have a variety of causes, "including but not limited to" television compatibility issues and issues with the PS4's power supply, hard drive or other hardware.
Since it's impossible to know what the issue is by looking at the the blinking light — with no video signal, you can't see an error code even if the system is displaying one — Sony is recommending that users try all of the following steps. Updating the firmware on your television may solve a compatibility issue. Unplugging the PS4's power cable and plugging it back in may work; otherwise, you should check all system cables for "any conspicuous damage or anomalies," and if you identify a physical problem with one of them, you can try swapping in a pristine cable.
Next, you should open up the hard drive bay and ensure that the console's hard drive is properly seated in it. Another option is to replace the hard drive if you suspect that that's where the problem lies. Finally, you can try booting the PS4 into safe mode by holding the power button for seven seconds. There, the "initialize PS4" and "initialize PS4 (reinstall system software)" options will allow you to begin a clean installation of the system software.
Red line of death
Problem: According to the PS4 user guide, the "red line of death" is caused by the PS4 system overheating. Various YouTube videos have documented the issue; one from NeoGAF user inner-G says it appeared after the PS4's fans failed to turn on. As seen in the video, after reaching the welcome screen, the PS4's light will change from blue to red and the console will beep and shut off.
Solutions: You should never run the PS4 while it's on the ground or on a carpeted surface. Make sure to keep it in a well-ventilated space. As for consoles whose fans appear to not turn on, requesting a replacement is likely the only available option.
Disc ejection problems
Problem: Many users have reported discs getting stuck in the PS4, with the players unable to eject them. Some users are reporting the console will continuously auto-eject discs or go through the ejection process even if there is no disc inside.
Solutions: Users on the PlayStation forums are reporting that issue happens most frequently when the PS4 is sitting horizontally; standing it up vertically has solved the problem, in many cases. If the issue persists, players can manually eject the disc by turning off the PS4, unplugging all cables and sliding off the console's glossy front panel. Users must then locate and turn the manual eject screw using a screwdriver, which will push the disc slightly out of the slot and allow players to manually pull it out. (Instructions with photos are available here.)
Sony is currently collecting information on the issue. If you're one of the users who is having trouble ejecting discs, head over to the PS4 support forums and note what title you are trying to eject, if game data was being installed at the time, what if any system notifications were shown before or after your attempt and any troubleshooting steps you may have taken on your own.
If none of the steps above resolved the problem you're having with your PS4, your best bet is to reach out to Sony support and attempt to get your faulty console replaced under warranty. (It goes without saying that you shouldn't attempt to take apart the system yourself — tampering with the two warranty seals on the back of the unit will void the manufacturer's one-year warranty.)
According to reports from aggrieved customers posting Amazon reviews, Sony is sending affected users a box in which they can return their defective unit. Customers are reporting that they're being told they'll get replacement consoles in a few weeks. Sony's support team can be reached here; options include live text chat, which is currently unavailable, as well as phone via 800-345-SONY. Either way, support representatives are available Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET.
You can also attempt to take up the problem with the retailer that you purchased your PS4 from. However, because stores don't have the PS4 in stock, most — such as Amazon, according to the user reviews — are only offering refunds, not exchanges. Amazon representatives can be contacted here. (Update: Some individuals are reporting that Sony Stores will provide replacement PS4s on the spot if they have them in stock, even for people who did not originally purchase their consoles from a Sony Store.)
We've repeatedly attempted to contact Sony to ask about the PS4's hardware problems and heard back today, but the only response we've received is last week's statement about isolated incidents. We'll continue to keep you updated with the latest on the situation.
Story by Samit Sarkar and Alexa Ray Corriea.