Commentary

Glitches Aside, Sony's PS4 Enjoys A Winning Launch

Any questions about the pent-up demand for the latest iteration of Sony’s PlayStation — officially No. 4 in the royal lineage but actually the “eighth generation,” according to Mashable — were answered by the credit cards of gamers over the weekend. More than a million of them shelled out $399.99 plus tax and up in the first 24 hours of its release in the United States and Canada just after midnight Friday morning.

“Kerboom! That's the sound of Sony making a decent-sized dent in the console gaming market,” observesPCMag’s David Murphy. “An excited executive, Sony Computer Entertainment president Shuhei Yoshida, delivered the sales news via a Twitter post early Sunday morning. ‘PS4 has sold through over 1 million units within 24 hours of the launch in North America!!!,’ he wrote.”

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But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the PlayStation rules, according to the some very mixed reactions online.

“A noteworthy portion of the customer reviews for the console on Amazon were negative,” Nick Wingfield points out in the New York Times. “As of Sunday afternoon, one version of the PS4 had just over 1,800 reviews on Amazon, and about 500 of the reviewers gave a 1-star rating, the lowest possible on Amazon. Many of those people wrote that their consoles stopped functioning after a short period of playing or didn’t work at all.”

“Some users reported problems with the PlayStation Network. In addition, a number of users reported broken HDMI cables, error messages upon attempting to download games, problems with ejecting discs and the ominous Red Line of Death,” writes Hypable’s Anna Roberts. 

“Sony maintains that these problems are limited to 0.4% of shipped PlayStation 4 consoles,” Roberts continues, suggesting that the explosion of social media since the PlayStation3 was release in 2006 has created a whole different marketplace than was in play just seven years ago. To wit: If you’ve got a problem, everybody hears about it.

“Remember the XBox 360 RROD?” [No, but we get the drift.] “Not to be outdone, Sony brings us the blue light of death,” Computerworld’s Richi Jennings reports. “A surprising number of its new consoles seem to be failing as soon as [they’re] unboxed or not long after. Amid allegations of sabotage at a Chinese factory, Sony is stopping sales in some channels.”

But Sony does seem to be staying on top of the situation through the same social media that has some gamers calling for its head. A page in its own community pages, for example, directly addresses the “Blinking Blue Light” issue, offering symptoms, possible causes and probably solutions.

To say the PS4 had been long-awaited seems to be an understatement. “Although Sony officially announced the faster, more powerful console on Feb. 20, speculation began as early as 2011,” writes Mashable’s Sara Roncero-Menendez, who put together an illustrated timeline of rumors, events and press announcements about the device.

Sony expects to sell 5 million PS4 consoles by March 31. According to Reuters, Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian expects 2.5 million to 3 million PS4 shipments in the fourth quarter in North America alone.

The quick start for PS4 “are a positive sign for the videogame console industry, which has struggled in recent years through a protracted slump as consumers have held off purchasing or turned to games offered on mobile devices and social networking websites,” posts Ian Sheer on the Wall Street Journal’s“Digits” blog.

“Videogame executives have blamed the industry’s contracting sales on the cyclical nature of the console devices, citing sales slowdowns shortly before Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3 were all introduced between 2005 and 2006,” Sheer continues.

The console goes on sale in Australia, Europe and Latin America on Nov. 29 and Japan next Feb. 22. Microsoft’s Xbox One, with a starting retail price of $100 more, or $499, goes on sale on Friday. 

“IDC has forecast that PlayStation4 bundle sales will overtake Microsoft's Xbox One sales in the upcoming holiday season mainly because of its lower price point’” reportsPC World’s John Ribeiro. “The game consoles are also facing competition from gaming on mobile devices and handhelds.”

Play ball!” as they yelled in a quainter era.

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