Nov. 18, 2013 at 3:27 PM ET
Sony's next-generation PlayStation 4 video game console hit the shelves on Friday, receiving positive accolades from many early reviewers and Sony fans alike. But as some unlucky gamers who eagerly unpacked their new systems over the weekend found, the transition to the next generation of gaming wasn't as seamless as people they were promised.
Shortly after the new gaming system went live, reports began to spread across the Internet about a so-called "blue light of death" — instead of glowing white when powering up, the light on some PS4 units would emit a pulsing blue color until powering off entirely or otherwise teetering on the edge of being completely nonfunctional.
Sony, which had already addressed some of the PS4's performance issues prior to launch, responded by posting troubleshooting tips on its support forum. According to the tips Sony posted, the "blue light of death" could be indicative of everything from basic "TV compatibility" issues to defects with the PS4's power supply, hard drive or "other PS4 hardware."
It's unclear just how systemic these performance issues are so far. The PlayStation 4's Amazon review page has been flooded with negative feedback. Given how aggressive many die-hard gamers can get with their online activities, there's no telling how many of those reviews are legitimate customer experiences versus efforts by Xbox One fans to sabotage the closest rival. Of the professional reviews posted last week, only two major gaming outlets — IGN and Kotaku — identified performance issues with PS4 retail units.
In a statement given to NBC News last week, Sony put the failure rate for the new hardware at 0.4 percent. The console sold more than 1 million units its first day on the market, which would mean there's somewhere around 4,000 suffering from some sort of defect.
Though 4,000 unhappy gamers isn't an insignificant number, labeling the PS4's launch issues the "blue light of death" seems unfair. The name is a reference to the Xbox 360's notorious "red ring of death," a problem that, according to Microsoft's own statements, affected between 3 percent and 5 percent of that console's early units and ultimately proved so pervasive that the company ended up extending the warranty period for early adopters. In a 2012 feature story, Wired Magazine called the Xbox 360 "one of the most public warranty debacles in the past decade."
Only time will tell how widespread Sony's problems with the PlayStation 4 are, but they don't seem to be anywhere near "red ring of death" levels yet. Asked for comment on this story, a Sony representative reiterated the company's statement from last week that described the defective units as "a very small percentage of total units shipped to consumers to date."
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com