Social Media Making It Hard To Gauge Scope Of PS4's Technical Difficulties
The PS4 has some problems at launch, that much is clear. Both gaming outlets and fans alike have reported problems with the system ranging from wonky HDMI ports to pulsing lights to crashing PSN and so on and so forth.
But the problem? With apologies to the reliable Wii U, this is the first major console launch now that social media has taken over our society. So while there are very vocal fans upset with their defective PlayStation 4s all over forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc, it’s very hard to tell how representative they are of the larger public who owns the system.
The problem here is that a customer with a defective PlayStation 4 is almost certainly going to take to one of their social media platforms to complain about it at launch. A customer with a functional PS4 may do the same, but it’s a much lower chance they’ll helpfully broadcast that their PS4 is working, as that’s not an interesting story. This is if they say anything at all, if they’re too busy playing their new console.
Amazon, for example, has about 600 reviews of the PlayStation 4 launch edition up right now. The console is sitting at about 3 out of 5 stars, not due to middling scores, but because of 320 five star reviews and 260 one star reviews. Nearly all of the one star reviews are complaining about faulty hardware. Does that mean that the PS4 has a 40% failure rate? Of course not. It’s people finding an outlet to vent about their consoles not working (and there is the possibility some of these could be fake reviews from Xbox enthusiasts).
All of this isn’t meant to absolve Sony of any blame for faulty consoles. If there is a problem with their hardware, they should do their best to fix it for free in the quickest way possible. But the fact of the matter is that electronic devices, especially never before released technology, failing to work out of the box is not a unique problem. It happens, and there’s always going to be an “expected” failure rate on something like a new console.
But if 90% of people who get a faulty console are complaining about it online, while only 9% of those with a working console are broadcasting their success stories, it’s going to seem unbalanced and like there’s some massive, widespread issue. And furthermore, with so many online gaming news sites in existence these days, the same stories about defective consoles are being bounced around between hundreds of sites, when really they may be reporting on a relative handful of units.
I’m not saying it’s impossible for there to be widespread problems with the PS4. But it is too early to say if these are just normal launch window issues, or if this is going to turn into some massive RROD fiasco. I’d guess it’s the former, but it just isn’t responsible for anyone to be declaring it the latter at this point.