In the last few days a couple of media outlets spread rumors abut the PS4 possibly suffering from overheating problems, and that was presented as the alleged reason why many journalists aren’t receiving review units in advance.
The rumor seemed quite farfetched, and mostly born out of the malcontent of some that felt entitled to a free console before launch and saw that request denied, so I set out to ask those that have the best chance to actually know about possible problems: developers that have been working on the console for quite a while now.
The development environment puts consoles in quite brutal operational conditions, especially due to the long working hours, so if there indeed are problems, developers should have been the first to notice.
Of course not everyone was willing to answer, and not everyone was willing to let us disclose his name and position, but here are the results of our research.
Meridith Braun of Digital Extremes (Warframe) let us know that the PS4 devkits the studio has used “worked as intended.” When I asked for a more specific answer, precisely if the devkits never overheated while working on them, her answer was “Correct.”
Switchblade Monkeys Creative Director Yousuf Mapara working on Secret Ponchos, had the following to say:
We’ve been using a bunch of dev kits. They’ve been on almost all the time, sometimes even over night. They’ve always stayed cool, never even gotten warm so It has never suggested the threat of a problem. We have had no problems with any of the dev kits throughout development.
In addition to that, seven different developers that opted to have their name not published responded that they never experienced any heat-related problems with the development consoles.
Of those one, working on a title that will be both on PS4 and PC answered:
As far as I know, the specs and cooling of the current dev kits are the same as the final retail consoles, and I never saw one getting any hotter than a PS3 or a Xbox 360. Our consoles never had problems of that sort, and if you’re talking about that picture with the red line, I never saw something like that.
Another, currently at work on an AAA multiplatform game that will be on both PS4 and Xbox One, reported pretty much the same thing, including Microsoft’s new console into the picture.
None of our devkits, either PS4 or Xbox One, had any overheating problems. We have so many and we use them so much that if there was any big issue we’d have probably noticed something, but no, they all worked and still work like a charm.
One of the developers we asked was quite clear cut on the issue, with a bit of irony:
We don’t really like getting in the middle of console war stuff /rumors so we’d rather not be credited for a quote, but this makes me giggle. We’ve been using test and dev kits for a while. No over heating issues. We run them for full business hours and beyond. Granted, they aren’t identical to what will be released, so really anyone claiming to have an issue is either fabricating it, or it would be something I’d expect resolved in the final model. No issues on our end that I’ve seen.
A fourth was a bit more philosophical, but still reported no issue:
There’s no such thing as a new console launch without a number of faulty units, but none of the development kits we have suffered from any problem related to heat.
None of the developers wiling to give their insight on the issue reported any overheating problem witnessed directly or heard about.
In addition to developers, I also contacted a few people that worked at the Sony booths at recent trade shows, Milan’s Games Week and the event in Paris that goes by the same name (both booths had a very high number of working consoles). I also managed to get in contact with someone that worked at the Battlefield 4 booth at the Paris Games Week, where 32 PS4 and 32 Xbox One units worked over time for almost a week.
They all were very clear in explaining that no console had any kind of overheating issue during the events, and trade show conditions are just as brutal than the development environment.
There you have it, straight from the mouths of quite a few lions. Of course the PS4 is not a perfect machine. Absolute perfection in electronics manufacturing doesn’t exist, so like one of the developers above said, we can definitely expect a number of faulty units, but there’s no real reason to expect a widespread problem due to overheating.
All in all, alleging that Sony might be withholding delivery of the console to journalists due to overheating issues (that would still surface afterwards, even more disastrously, if they really existed) seems to definitely hold little credibility.