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PS4’s Blue light of Death and Xbox’s lack of launch features point to a premature launch

If you’ve been following the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One, you’ve had quite the emotional rollercoaster. They're awesome and shiny, but as we near closer and closer to the releases, we’re seeing apps, features, and hardware stability dropout.

First the delays. Over the past couple of weeks, Microsoft has been quietly informing us on what will be included at launch and what will not. Most noteworthy is the delay of the ability to stream to Twitch.tv from the Xbox One, which was pushed back to 2014. Microsoft explained that it wanted to "ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community.” Perhaps a fire was lit when, Microsoft got a whiff of how well the service worked on the PS4 at launch.

Summary: the app was not ready in time. Unfinished apps like this dropping from the Xbox One's launch is less of an isolated incident and more of an unfortunate trend.Case in point: the Xbox’s Sky TV app, “Now TV,” which was originally included in the launch lineup but then pushed back to Summer 2014. Long available on the 360, this service was, once again, just not done in time for launch. Another casualty to this holiday season launch was the music functionality of the Xbox. More specifically, its ability to play music from USB. All we know about its future is that it will happen “not at launch.” And, of course, here we’re reminded of the delay in 3D blu-ray functionality.

While the Xbox One is plagued with delays, the PS4 is not off the hook. Besides the delays of several launch titles--such as Watchdogs, Tiny Brains, and Driveclub--there's also the little matter of the system suffering from hardware failures. Nicknamed the Blue Light of Death (flat-lining makes more sense though, right?), images of consumers’ broken PS4s have been popping up all over the internet. Are the temperatures that the PS4 is climbing to (even while idling) the cause? Is it a hardware issue? A software issue? Will this be as costly a mistake as the Xbox 360’s red ring of death issue that plagued the early days of that console’s release? Or are these failures being blown wildly out proportion due to an overzealous and grave dancing-prone community? Tough to call just yet.

Here's what we can say: Anecdotal evidence points to a hardware fail rate well above Sony's projected 0.4% launch average. It's early days, so we still need to wait and see whether the actual number hits that projection, floats closer to an industry standard of 3-5% for a major household electronic device, or accelerates to Red Ring of Death status (some reports put it at as high as 68%). Pending how this situation plays out, Sony may have been wise to pass over immediate gains, and delay its console alongside those many several launch games.

The PS4 and Xbox One have been pitting themselves against each other since their inception, and it’s been win-win for consumers the entire time. We’ve had the luxury of just sitting back and watching each console try to match and exceed the features of their competitor. Sure Microsoft had to backpedal from their unfortunate reveal event detail, but on a whole this competition has resulted in some great innovation by each company.

But, with news story upon news story coming out about delays and hardware malfunctions, this race to the finish feels like it ended prematurely. Sometimes it’s hard for the consumer to declare a winner when it feels like they're on the losing end of a console war.

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28 comments

  • GoldenEagle1476 - November 20, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    I don't think anyone's surprised.
  • mafyooz - November 20, 2013 12:11 a.m.

    "alongside those many several launch games." - so which one is it many, or just several? ;)
  • Shigeruken - November 20, 2013 12:28 a.m.

    Maybe it's an intentional hyperbolic litotes?
  • mafyooz - November 20, 2013 12:51 a.m.

    It could be possible if I'm remembering rhetoric correctly (which I actually doubt because it's something I only briefly touched on in college, and that was about 20 years ago!), but I think it's much more likely that they couldn't decide which word to use and then forgot to delete one at all ;)
  • GOD - November 19, 2013 11:29 p.m.

    I've never had a Nintendo handheld fail on my and I have all except the original gameboy, the DS Lite, and the DSi. In terms of consoles, no failures, although my Wii makes a horrible grinding noise when it runs a disc that is truly deafening. On the other hand it has yet to damage a disc when it does this, and I actually have wrapped it in a blanket, and then put it in a desk cabinet, while it was running to muffle the noise so I could finish playing the majority of Okami, and it never once overheated! That says a lot that when it's made into the worst fire hazard possible and it still doesn't stop working even after hours of constant play. I even played the entirety of Skyward Sword like this and not once did I have a problem.
  • mothbanquet - November 20, 2013 1:53 a.m.

    Never had a Sega console fail on me either, while they were around. Is it safe to say they don't build 'em like they used to?
  • SnakeinmyBoot - November 20, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    The thing about Sega and Nintendo is they are the last console manufacturers who's original focus was video games. (Well, Ninty made card, toys, and other things before moving mostly to games.) They wanted to sell one system to consumers a generation, so gamers would buy as many games as they could. Sega and Nintendo made sure their products were of the highest quality. Now we got a software company and a electronics company as the two main competitors in the market. Their mentality is they want you to buy software upgrades and new TVs every couple years. They are applying, at least subconsciously, planned obsolescence into the quality of their products and rushing them out the door to be first on the market. It definitely bit Microsoft with the RRoD, but it has been hurting anyone with a launch system since the PS1s that had to be flipped over to read discs to now. Now they are rushing to make enough systems for launch before fully testing the firmware and integrating features they showed off months ago. Even Nintendo rushed the WiiU out and made everyone download a huge update before getting started. So, they really don't make them like they used to.
  • Child Of Death - November 19, 2013 8:15 p.m.

    The PS4 hardware failure complaints is wildly exaggrated.
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - November 19, 2013 8:54 p.m.

    I have a suspicion you're correct. I'll wait one month in before believe any RROD-level hardware failure is effecting the PS4. Just seems a small ( but still somewhat alarming) percent of consoles are wonking out in the first week, and people immediately think the sky is falling.
  • Nano - November 19, 2013 7:47 p.m.

    Failure rate of 360, PS3, Wii for comparison 24month Xbox 360 23.7% (11.7%, excluding RROD) PS3 10% Wii 2.7% 24hours Xbox 360 1.19% (0.59%, excluding RROD) PS3 0.57% Wii 0.31% Source: SquareTrade https://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_Xbox360_PS3_Wii_Reliability_0809.pdf
  • Eightboll812 - November 19, 2013 6:54 p.m.

    Weren't you the one who said: "The only flaw is the RROD issue with the 360, and they never made any promises in the first place that it was utterly reliable" Yeah, I thought so. Carry on troll.
  • birdro - November 19, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    At this point, with so much having been said and retracted by both parties, I'd be interested in seeing a list of all the supposed features that were scheduled but cut for release. I'm not trying to say this in any malicious or biased way, i've just legitimately lost track of both consoles abilities at launch :S
  • GamesRadarCollanderCooper - November 19, 2013 5:40 p.m.

    The current gen is 7 fucking years old. There's nothing premature about next gen
  • talleyXIV - November 20, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    What they mean is that the consoles were rushed out before they were ready. It's like you are working on a car for 7 years and your neighbor you hate is about to finish his car so you rush yours and finish it. Sony and Microsoft felt the pressure mounting from each other and definitely launched before their console was completely ready, hence the issues.
  • GR_ZachBetka - November 20, 2013 5:15 p.m.

    Great analogy, right on the mark.
  • CrKnight - November 19, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    If a feature or product wont be ready in time for a launch, don't announce it! It's disappointing to hear things go away, but hearing new features be added is much more exciting. If you want to announce it at least say it won't be at launch. I'm glad I've held off on these launches just for the mess they've been.
  • TanookiMan - November 19, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    I really hope "flat-lining" catches on! It's clever, and I'm tired of the "_____ of death" names (red ring, blue screen, blue light, etc.)
  • Cyberninja - November 19, 2013 3:23 p.m.

    No matter what crap people give Nintendo their stuff has yet to fail me in anyway shape or form. I just hope Sony and Microsoft get their crap together soon for the good of everyone and lets hope X1 doesn't have another RRoD on their hands with Next Gen.
  • communinja - November 19, 2013 3:46 p.m.

    Agreed. Nintendo make sure their systems work, and can actually be dragged behind a truck for a while, and still function (seriously, there is a video of a gamecube being dragged around behind a truck)

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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