Yesterday I wrote an article mentioning that social media gives us power to keep corporations on their toes, but take away perspective from our perception of reality, warping it negatively.
In that article I tried to put the issue in the right perspective by throwing in a very conservative estimate of 500,000 units sold to date. Turns out that my perspective was quite faulty as well, as Sony Computer Entertainment announced today that a whole million units were sold through (meaning that they actually found a loving home) in the first 24 hours after the console’s debut.
Not only that’s a mindboggingly positive number, which I personally didn’t even get near to expect, but it definitely helps us putting the reports about bricked and malfunctioning consoles in a much more realistic perspective.
In order to do so I will use the same equation I used yesterday, but I will replace my hypothetical sell-through numbers with a million. Keep in mind that now the console has been in the wild way longer than 24 hours, so the actual number is surely higher, but with this kind of partly empirical calculations being conservative is best. You’re very free to use the equation yourself replacing the million with whatever number you think corresponds to the actual current sales of the console.
Using Sony’s early estimate of 0.4% faulty PS4 units, we find out that there might be 4,000 bricked or otherwise malfunctioning consoles in the hands of the same number of rightfully dissatisfied customers in North America only.
If 30% of those customers take to the internet to present their complaints to the wide audience of social media (and 30% is a rather conservative estimate as well, given how accessible social media is for this kind of complaints, and the fact that gamers are normally very keen on sharing what happens to them with the rest of the web), we’re going to see 1,334 malfunction reports generated just by the first day of sales. And that’s a number destined to grow day by day as more consoles are sold.
That’s an enormous amount that, taken without the due perspective, would immediately prompt people to think that there has been some unmitigated production disaster of proportions comparable to the red ring of death.
Mind you, we can’t be sure that a problem isn’t there, but the current reports we have seen, compared with the perspective given by a million consoles sold, is definitely not nearly enough to prove or even indicate the existence of such a problem.
A 0.4% failure rate for the launch of a new consumer electronics product is entirely acceptable. Of course it’s still extremely annoying if you’re part of that small percentage, but it’s unfortunately the nature of the electronic beast, and that’s one of the reason why we have warranties. The true test for Sony now will be on how quickly and efficiently those warranties will be fulfilled.
If a small 0.4% failure rate has the potential to generate over a thousand perfectly legit complaints from just the first day of sales, just imagine how much that number has been inflated by false positives and trolls.
Of course there are trolls on the internet, people that just seek attention or have a vested interest in making things look worse than they are, and unfortunately they are on all sides of the console war. Here’s a comment you can read in my previous article about the issue:
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.
Will this contemptible threat really be put in action? We have no way to know, but it’s pretty much safe to assume that there will be quite a few that will try similar stunts, whether on the same scale or not, just like there have been quite a few for the PS4. It’s again the unfortunate nature of the console war mixed with the sense of safety given by the internet that seems to turn quite a few people into complete twa*s, forgive the french.
Add to that the fact that many of the malfunction reports have been bounced back and forth with amazing redundancy by media outlets with a vested interest in building up the controversy to feed their pageview numbers, and you get the idea.
So there you have it: yesterday I wrote that we needed perspective to judge the reports of malfunctioning consoles that have emerged, and today we got just that. Now that we have a more complete picture of the situation, you’re the ones that have to figure out what to make of it. Now we have the tools, and you can decide how to use them.