Bricked Consoles: Internet and Social Media Give Us Power, but Take Perspective Away

Earth, November 2013: it’s a very different world compared to 2005 and 2006, when the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were launched. At that time social media was much less widespread and had a much smaller reach. The percentage of those connected and sharing their experiences and problems on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was much, much lower.

Today people, and especially gamers that have always been ahead of the times in adopting technology, live half in the real world and half in the cyberspace, getting nearer and nearer to the idea of Cyberpunk‘s netrunners. When I achieve something important, one of my first thoughts is to share it with my friends from all over the world on Twitter. When I have a problem, one of the first outlets where I direct my complaints is the internet. That’s just the kind of world we live in nowadays.

That kind of world, where everyone’s reach and power of communication has been multiplied a hundredfold over the past few years, brings positive and negative effects.

Let’s start with the good news: in the big picture of communication and marketing we’re not just receivers, passive objects thatcorporations consider only as potential buyers and walking wallets that exist only to be bombarded by one-way marketing messages over the media.

Social media gives anyone the possibility to bounce back a different message, to be opinion leader, even to fight back against the power of the big companies that often forget about the fact that they’re dealing with people.

Eight years ago if you had a problem with a new console, you had very few options besides calling support, putting up with an often dismissive customer service representative and hope for the best. Today if the problem is big enough and communicated well enough, you have the power to get the attention of thousands and possibly cause a large impact on the public image of a company, resulting in the fact that corporations have now become a lot more aware of the importance of customer satisfaction.

The case ofΒ Andre “Moonlightswami” Weingarten is pretty emblematic. He got an Xbox One early and Microsoft banned the console to prevent him from spreading further classified information despite the fact that he had no real fault on the issue, having purchased the hardware regularly.


Andre created a big hubbub over social media, stating his case with a clear message and receiving the support of thousands. The day after he was on the phone with Xbox Live’s Director of Programming Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb, that offered “generous” compensation for his troubles and his silence.

Other executives from both Microsoft and Sony are equally reachable, and will equally scramble to put out fires as soon as they can, because they know that on today’s social media a single flame can cause a large explosion if left unattended.

This is definitely a good thing. Corporations have lived in relative invulnerability for too long, with costly and bothersome lawsuits being the only weapon in the hand of customers to protect their often abused rights. Now social media is another weapon, often even more powerful because damage to a company’s image can be more clipping than a hit to its finances.

Social media has given us the power to keep corporations with a financial power that completely overwhelms ours on their toes, and that power is only going to get bigger and bigger.

On the other hand, there’s also a more subtle but equally impactful negative effect to social media: we’ve been seeing it in the past few days with the launch of PS4, and we’ll most probably see it continue across the launch of Xbox One and over Β the early lifetime of both consoles.

Social media takes perspective away and gives us a negatively distorted vision of reality.

Over the past few days there has been a relatively relevant number of complaints about bricked and dead on arrival PS4 units appearing on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and more.

PS4When the Xbox One will launch we’re probably going to see it happen there as well. It might be more or less widespread, but it’s going to happen and it’s pretty much inevitable. It’s in the nature of electronics and manufacturing to have a failure rate. No manufacturing process will ever be perfect, and no piece of technology will ever be immune from flaws, mishandling and other mishaps that can happen to what are rather delicate constructs.

When a highly anticipated console that costed you 4-500 bucks breaks or fails to work completely, there are very high chances that, unless you don’t have an internet access (and in that case you wouldn’t be reading this) your first thought will be to post about it on the internet. Very possibly even before you actually call customer support to get the problem fixed. It’s just the nature of the beast, and of this connected world we live in. I sure know that’s what I’d do, and there’s really nothing wrong with it.

The problem is much beyond the single complaint of a single user over Twitter or Facebook, and resides in the fact that social media instantly makes the volume of such complaints look a lot bigger than it really is. Perspective is removed due to the broad reach achieved by what we say over the web.

When they see 100 different complaints about a bricked console, many will start thinking that there’s a widespread problem. When those complaints become 200, it’s instinctive and natural to feel that someone really botched its manufacturing processes. When they become 500 or more it’s difficult not to wonder if there has been an unmitigated disaster similar or worse to the Xbox 360’s red ring of death.

That’s made even more extreme because, unless directly asked, people are much more likely to “take it to Twitter” if they have something to complain about than if they’re satisfied about a product.

Then there’s the amplifying effects journalistic media outlets have on the issue. It’s controversial, and many have a vested interest in making it seem as big as possible, because controversy directly translates into pageviews, and pageviews directly turn into money, which is why some sites are scrambling to report on as many malfunction cases as they can find.

If you add up the number of complaints to social media visibility and multiply it by the journalistic media loudspeaker, perspective completely goes down the drain and molehills turn into many Everest.

Let’s bring some perspective back into the issue by doing some simple math.

Let’s say that Sony sold 500,000 PS4 units since launch. It’s an extremely conservative estimate, as the company announced that it had a million pre-orders back in August, and the number has inevitably inflated since then, without even counting all the consoles that have been sold on day one, those that have been given away to press and contest winners and so forth.

PS4 (1)

Sony itself mentioned that their estimate of faulty hardware is 0.4% which is a very acceptable ratio for the launch of a new console, even counting the fact that hardware is damaged due to mishandling during shipping more than many would think (which is why I almost never order online, mind you, after receiving a $400 video card with the box completely smashed, I think twice before visiting the online page of that retailer again).

Using that total number and percentage, the amount of non functional PS4 units out in the wild would be 2.000.

Now let’s say that only 30% of those receiving a faulty or damaged console actually goes to complain online (even here we’re talking about a rather conservative estimate given how accessible social media is for this kind of complaints), and the result is 600 (rightfully) dissatisfied customers popping up on the net, documenting an equal number of bricked consoles.

That, of course, doesn’t even take in consideration the number of false positives due to trolling and attention seeking (and there’s plenty of those as well), but let’s consider those 600 as fully valid and legit complaints.

The not so fun part is that it’s only going to get worse as more units are sold. If Sony really manages to sell their five million units target before March the 31st, using the same equation we’re going to see a staggering 6,000 complaints generated by 20,000 bricked consoles plastered all over Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and similar outlets.

It’s hard not to be impressed by seeing that kind of numbers (even just the initial 600, let alone 6,000) online, and it’s hard not to think that we’re looking at a very widespread problem of potentially calamitous proportions, despite the fact that the number has been generated by a very much acceptable dead on arrival ratio in the field of consumer electronics with the launch of a new model of hardware.

Ultimately this problem is hard to solve. I can churn out numbers and empirical calculations all day, but the only one that can give back some much needed perspective to this scenario is you, by trying to compare the number of cases you see with the actual number of consoles out in the wild.

Of course this doesn’t mean that a problem does not exist (we really have no way to judge), but whether it does or not, we won’t learn it from social media.

Social media gave us the power to move mountains, keeping on their toes corporations that just a few years ago simply didn’t give us the light of day. That’s great, and hopefully that power will continue to increase over time, engraving even more deeply the value of customer satisfaction in the collective brains of the companies that sell us the products we play with.

Unfortunately social media also turns every molehill into a mountain. Don’t get me wrong: it’s really annoying when that molehill pops up right into your rose garden, but it’s still not a mountain.

Join the Discussion

  • Kyoto Region

    Thank you for this article. It was much needed.
    Seems Xbots forgot the scale of the 360’s failures compared to the PS4.

    • Tu Padre

      Honesetly let them have this moment of joy cuz come next week. tables are gonna turn.

      • Woohoo!!

        been saying the same thing for days.

    • Clinton Weyand

      Xbots have not forgotten. They have some pretty harrowing war stories about the deaths of their consoles. But they will not stand idly by after receiving so much harassment from Sony Sheep.

      In other words, “What goes around, comes around!” So, suck it up and be the better man… Though quite doubtful you’re capable of such maturity.

      • Bankai

        You do realize that by questioning his maturity in only makes you look immature, right?

        It’s not even a matter of “what goes around, comes around”. Xbox fans are jumping on this news prior to the Xbones launch, which could turn out to be just as (if not more) complaint riddled.

        Microsheep jumping the gun, that’s the real problem here.

      • Kyoto Region

        “What goes around, comes around”? Funny, because when the 360 was dominating in sales and games a while back, these types of discussion boards were littered with Xbots worse than you praising their console over the PS3. But apparently, if the tides turn, it means that the Sony fanboys are worse.

        Good job being loyal to your ideas bro.
        It’s okay though, the Sony fanbase is happy to take any now-turned Xbot aboard.

      • Michael Norris

        Says the sheep…

    • Fweds

      Problem is though is that this article is POINTLESS as it try’s to somehow compare the hardware failures of the just released PS4 and a console that was launched EIGHT YEARS AGO. Seriously!!!!. And the rest is just presumption.

      Also interesting is why is the Wii U launch not mentioned here ?

      Another worrying problem now is if a YLOD(also NOT mentioned in this article?) type fault also happens over the coming months.

      • Clifton Walton

        Agreed, we simply don’t know the extent of the problem. It could be within the normally excepted failure rates for an electronic device or it could turn out to be much higher.

  • Kamille

    are you guys really trying to spin this? And here I was thinking that Polygon were biased….

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      There’s nothing to spin. Unless you don’t like looking in the face of fact and you prefer panicking over lack of perspective.

      • Fweds

        So is this going to turn into a YLOD type denial that it didn’t exist over the coming months ? only we all know it did exist in big way

    • Brandon

      Its not trying to spin anything. You realize even after 2 years after launch Xbox 360 still had like 27% failure rate? and PS3 had like 10% and i think the Wii was like 2%.
      Failure rate is inevitable. Cars, computers, phones,TV’s, everything is going to have a failure rate. Anything under 2% is actually considered quite good.

    • Tu Padre
      • Woohoo!!


  • Guiseppe Mario Mazzola

    Everyone know’s u dont buy a next gen system day 1.U wait a few week’s.or month’s.

    • Flyte_79

      You don’t buy it because you can’t afford it.. Isn’t that the real reason..? πŸ™‚

      • Clifton Walton

        Nope. My reasons are different. I’m not getting either console because:
        1. I have a good gaming PC that plays games like Battlefield 4 at better quality than either console.
        2. Hardware reliability issues like the ones being reported. I would rather wait to see how things turn out.
        3. There aren’t enough games I can’t get on my PC that really interest me and make it worth getting a console.

  • EX+

    Great article Abriael.
    The XBO won’t be some magical piece of tech either.

  • blaster man
    • Giuseppe Nelva

      LOL. Of course two people can’t have the same (perfectly logical) opinion online, brought with entirely different arguments, mind you.

      Glad I’m not the only one that thinks like this.

    • Woohoo!!

      Not the same at all…but thanks for linking that. Now I have 2 articles I can spam into fanboy duels πŸ˜€

  • The Wolf 47

    Fanboys will try to bash each other’s consoles.
    I don’t have time for that kind of stupid sh!t.

  • Guest

    Well, I put in a cancel for my order today due to the news. Not sure if it will go through because it was already in the process of shipping, but I didn’t want to take the chance. There’s just been too many unhappy customers on Amazon and

    Edit: A lot of these reviews were posted before the release date, sometimes months before, so maybe I got the wrong idea:

    They should take down the reviews done before the system was released. It’s just fanboy crap.

    Very difficult to know if people claiming their consoles are broken are just fanboy crap too. Video gamers are so immature.

    • Eat it

      I’m making multiple reviews for my “broken” Xbox one in a week. Can’t wait.

      • Fweds

        Trouble is like the PS4 reviews anyone with any sense can see which ones of them are rubbish just by checking for VERIFIED PURCHASE BY AMAZON below their names.

        Oh one more thing , GROW UP.

        • You are flat out wrong
          • Fweds

            Why are you putting up pointless fanboy pictures ?

            Do you have difficulty communicating using words?.

          • You’re a scumbag

            You’re such a homophobic insect. Have fun dying alone.

          • You are flat out wrong

            It’s what Xdrones have been saying for the last six months and, indeed, the last six years on XBL. Poor Xdrone can’t handle what he sees in the mirror. ^_^

          • You’re a scumbag

            What I see in the mirror, huh? So just because it’s said on XBL by homophobic 6 year olds like you whose greatest achievement in life will be getting a GED, that makes it OK? Look in the mirror you minimum wage earning twit and keep jerking off thinking about the day someone might love you. I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

          • You are flat out wrong

            It’ll all be OK in the end, Xdrone. Just keep thinking of those few hundred Amazon reviews and the pain will go away. πŸ™‚

      • Ironhide Delta

        Yeah. we’ll just chalk this up to too many paint chip snacks as a kid. Only difference now is you stuff them in your face with salsa.

      • Rocco

        YOUR A FAKE ! Jamie Lawler
        My friends and I have made over 100 separate Amazon accounts today just to review our “bricked” Xbox One’s on launch day. We bought them at Walmart, Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, not just Amazon, since it won’t say verified purchase. We don’t shop at Amazon, so no fear of banning. Can’t wait till the 22nd.

        • Eat it

          How else am I supposed to let Microsoft know my Xbox One is dead. I have to write multiple reviews about my single console to Amazon, so they will see the reviews and fix the problem. That’s the mature way to do it.

          • Rocco

            How about stop being a fake ass POS and stop hiding behind my own name Jamie Lawler.. Do the Mature thing and contact Xbox Support. But the truth is that you don’t have a X1. Your just a fake ass Troll… You are Jamie Lawler and everybody here knows it.

      • Rocco

        Fake Ass Jamie Lawler Bitching in a corner hiding behind my own name. Caught you lying and now your hiding.

  • islan

    It’s a real shame there wont be any easy way of verifying the ratio of units sold to units broke.

  • Averix

    My PS4 works fine. Loving it. Xbox One in a week. Life is good. πŸ™‚

    • Woohoo!!

      Mine’s working great too. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 25+ hrs of Killzone Shadow Fall with nary a hiccup. Only problem was PSN going down yesterday but they seem to have that under control now too. Every MMO I ever played at launch had network issues, sometime taking over a week to fix. Sony got it done in a day

  • Furious Francis

    Damage control after damage control article from dualshockers. Stop making excuses for Sony. They rushed a system to the market, its having problems. Plain and simple.

    • Eat it

      I turned off my Xbox One while it was updating. Now it doesn’t work. I guess it’s bricked. I hate Microsoft.

      • Communitylol

        Either way, having people like you in the community has turned gaming upside down it’s quite sad.

      • Rocco

        YOUR A FAKE!
        Jamie Lawler:
        My friends and I have made over 100 separate Amazon accounts today just to review our “bricked” Xbox One’s on launch day. We bought them at Walmart, Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, not just Amazon, since it won’t say verified purchase. We don’t shop at Amazon, so no fear of banning. Can’t wait till the 22nd.

        • Eat it

          You make it seem like it’s my fault. My Xbox One is bricked I have to tell everyone on the internet, I can’t just Deal With It.

          • Rocco

            You don’t have a Xbox One. Your a lying sack of turd!

      • Rocco

        Jamie Lawler.. Your an IDIOT…you got caught lying by me and now you changed your name to mine? Your still Jamie Lawler you damn fool and everybody here knows it. Even if you did get a X1 due to the Target System Dilevery error everybody here knows that all of those consoles will be activated on the 22nd. Your a stupid ass idiot for even trying to update before the 22nd, but your lying.

    • You are flat out wrong
      • Communitylol

        The fanboyism you bring out is out standing.

    • peterpansyndrome94

      Get the hell out of here Wiitard, This is a fight among men!LOL!

  • Eat it

    My friends and I have made over 100 separate Amazon accounts today just to review our “bricked” Xbox One’s on launch day. We bought them at Walmart, Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, not just Amazon, since it won’t say verified purchase. We don’t shop at Amazon, so no fear of banning. Can’t wait till the 22nd.

    • Woohoo!!

      …shouldn’t waste your time with such nonsense

    • Socerny

      You’re an example of everything that is wrong in the gaming community! The sad thing is you fanboys call yourselves “gamers” yet spend an inordinate amount of time doing things gamers don’t do like spreading lies and FUD. I see it all over the internet and it’s pathetic! Sony and Microsoft are more than capable of standing behind the efficacy of their respective consoles.

      If you bought a console and it works, then by all means shout it to the world that you’re happy with your purchase. But to stoop to lies because someone else lies seems moronic… I’m sorry.

      • Fweds

        Trouble is Sony didn’t help by making silly videos either.

      • Rocco

        Beware Jamie Lawler decide to chicken out and hide behind my name cause Jamie Lawler is a lying sack of turd.

    • Steve D

      Exactly you’re not “Verified” so nobody will believe that. Just wasting your time.

    • Brutal

      well you and your friends are tits.

    • Krakn3dfx

      As a big Playstation fan who has no intention of getting an XBox One, I think this is just crazy.

      Especially if you’re not getting paid to do it. At least MS pays their shills.

    • Laza Amafirin

      Please, kill yourself. No one cares.

    • Communitylol

      Wow… Seriously? this is beyond sad only 13 year olds would come up with something like this.

    • Ironhide Delta

      TIL: 7 years have too much access to computers.

      • Rocco

        I like how Jamie Lawler cowardly changed her name to mine. Jamie Lawler is a lying sack of donkey nuts.

    • Rocco

      You are a sorry excuse of a person Jamie Lawler. Good plan trying to hide your lying ass behind my own name. Your a coward POS who got caught. YOU CALL YOURSELF A GAMER?? You are exactly what makes the gaming community TERREIBLE, and I am ashamed that I have to share the same field as you. YOUR A LOSER! YOUR A SORRY ASS LOSER WITH NO LIFE. You are nothing but a low life piece of crap on the bottom of shoe, and WE will all expose you for who you are. You got a lot of heat on you already.. JAMIE LAWLER! COPY & PASTE CAN GO A LONG WAY ON THE INTERNET! AND I AM NO XBOX FAN EITHER! I LOVE THE GAMING COMMUNITY!

  • Blaze Blue

    all bull, what kills me is that you guys can’t take it in the ass like a man. You all talked all this pile of garbage about Xbox and I’m talking about a very large amount of garbage about Xbox one, and this ps4 is bricking on some people and this man is trying to put this on Xbox. A lot of nerve and audacity. Take it like a man .

    • Woohoo!!

      “what kills me is that you guys can’t take it in the ass like a man.”

      LMAO….we’re not all as…um..”accomodating” as you are in this respect…not that I’m judging, it’s a totally acceptable lifestyle πŸ˜€

  • 3rdworldgamer

    there’s really no surefire way to insure an item you purchased, in this case the PS4, is faulty or not. that’s why companies have a warranty period for their products in case malfunction occurs.

  • Socerny

    We will see! Everybody seems to use the RROD as the gauge and fail to point out that the systems were still “functional” for sometimes months until the RROD completely shut it down. It’s still early and the failure numbers are still relatively high for only the 3rd day of it’s release. So again… we will see.

  • Krakn3dfx

    Sony has a million plus units sold through, 1% of that, which is a completely respectable and actually fairly low failure rate for a launch console, is 10k units. This is the first console launch where console gamers are online en masse, which means more online reviews, and the power of a negative situation will encourage people to post reviews 90% more often than a positive situation.

    I guess we’ll see how things play out over the next 5-6 weeks, but based on the number of people who bought systems, the reports of defective units seem pretty low at this point. I personally have around 35 people on my PSN friend’s list with PS4s, all working great so far, and I’ve yet to hear from anyone I know who bought one who had issues, so only time will tell.

    • swinny

      Yep, the 999,000+ people are enjoying the hell out of their PS4’s, everyone who has genuinely got one and spoke about it online seems to be having a near-flawless experience, and many people are posting fake comments/lies on the internet, saying that their console has bricked when in reality they don’t even own the console and are probably Microsoft fanboys. Pathetic low lifes, Microsoft went down like a bitch XD

      • Ironhide Delta

        Seems as someone is whining like a 11 year old. You’re assuming every faulty console is an Xbox fanboy trying to ‘sabotage’ your uberconsole. Grow the hell up kid. Sony can do no wrong. Arrogant. Just like its fanboys.

      • Woohoo!!

        are you the same Swinny from IGN?

  • Steve D

    I don’t get it. Does bringing up the XBox issue make you feel better? The RROD wasn’t due to anything but the soldering that was used. The PS4 issues are all over the place. The .04 number is WRONG. Just look at the Sony support forum site and neogaf thread to get a feel for what’s going on. This is nothing to ignore. And stop trying to make this about xbox.

    • Cayal

      Really, because those 2 sites – which would have, at best, a couple of hundred people with the issue, are an indicator of an over reaching problem? Of the million already sold, how many are not having issues and are not on forums saying they don’t?

      Put it in perspective and actually think, instead of hoping this is a bigger issue than it really is.

  • swinny

    I’ve stopped getting my gaming news from the internet this week, Microsoft are trying too damn hard to sabotage Sony, their’s misinformation everywhere and its coming from Microsoft funded sites and spreading like wild fire. If this carries on, I’ll be depending on Magazines for my gaming news and screw the internet! You really have to be careful of what you read with con-artists like Microsoft around. And to think the whole reason I bought a 360 was because I was misled into thinking Bioshock was exclusive… never again you misleading scumbags, I hope you get what’s coming to you.(Judging from Sony’s PS4 sales, the XB1 will be forgot about by 2015/16 and we’ll already have the next Xbox, if they haven’t dropped out of the industry that is)

    • Clifton Walton

      lol De-lu-sion-al

    • Communitylol

      Uhhh…. lol.. there’s the delusional hospital at the other end think you need some help there buddy.

      • Woohoo!!

        IDK about the whole “MS is sabotaging Sony” yada yada (don’t think they need to, their fans are more than willing to do that for free) but otherwise he has a point. It has become impossible to trust anything you get on the internet. It is just too easy for anyone with an agenda, a computer (or even phone) and enough time on their hands to spread bullshit about any of the systems or games. And there are enough gullible people who will help spread misinformation. I used to rely on the internet to help guide my purchasing decisions but now I can’t even trust the so called professional reviews anymore, there’s no way of knowing if they are on the level, biased, or even influenced by their advertisers…

  • Chris

    Jesus Christ the damage control the fanboys in here are spewing. You guys make me want to send my PS4 back to Amazon.

    • Kyoto Region

      100$ more and you could get an Xbox One or a Decent PC.
      Shouldn’t you be happy?

      • Chris

        What does Xbox or PC have to do with my post? The insecurity from you and others is almost blinding. And this is coming from someone with a working PS4. -_-

        • Kyoto Region

          I’m recommending you an alternative. If people’s opinions are enough to sway you to regret a purchase, then why should you be left out? Get something else with the money you get back since it isn’t your cup of tea. But it’s okay, I can make assumptions too.

  • How many bricked Wii U’s showed up within 24 hrs. Serious question. – Same for Iphone or other tech device that has sold a number during 24 hrs. That would give you a general idea I would think.

  • Clifton Walton

    We simply don’t know the extent of the problem. It’s too early to say anything definitive either way.
    I do hope to see a similar damage control article written when reports of failed XB1s inevitably roll in.