When Good PS4s Go Bad

It isn't the normal "new console owner" woes: the general, ominous fear that something might be wrong, just because other people are having problems. Or the fact that this is my first day-one console, and all of the others were ones acquired after the first and second launch window guinea pigs.

See, things are happening. So much so that I was tempted to put a capital "H" there, but relented. (Editors don't like it when hypochondriacs get over dramatic.) Taken alone, each instance seems innocent. Yet, when all three happen on the same day--within the span of a few hours--you'll see that it's a troubling situation.

It all began last night, when I decided to use my PS4 to watch some shows on Netflix (Malcolm in the Middle episodes, to be exact, because I love me some classic Bryan Cranston). I started one episode, "Roller-skates," but needed to pause it for a few minutes. When I came back and attempted to unpause the console, it was unresponsive. The DualShock 4's light glowed an ominous orange before shutting off. I figured it was a random freeze. PS4s do that. My PS3 has even done that. So I shut it down, restarted, went through safe mode's check, and was back to the home screen after 10 disconcerting minutes.


I decided to try watching Malcolm in the Middle again because I love it and wanted to make sure the console was okay. After all, I'd just watched some Deep Space Nine on Netflix with the PS4 this past weekend with no problem. So, I started the app up again. I managed to finish "Rollerskates" and was starting the bat episode, "Robbery," when it happened again. This time, I hadn't even paused my PS4--It just froze, and I had to restart it again.

As a relatively sane person, I determined it might just be a Netflix issue. So, I decided I'd play a used copy of Knack instead. While I waited for it to install, I figured I'd play Resogun. Except something was off. While the audio was coming through the DualShock 4 just fine, there was no background music. I hadn't noticed the problem, since I'd silenced the system music and tones, but the PS4 wasn't outputting audio. I went to the home screen, turned the system music back on, and even started the now-installed Knack. All I heard were the sounds of silence.

Even more disturbed, I went through the system menu to turn it off. I gave it a ten-minute time out and returned to find the PS4 was back to its old self. Since I was still determined to use it, I went ahead and decided to play Knack, live-streaming my adventures.


It went better than I thought, especially since I'd heard horror stories about Knack. The game has a penchant for causing unexpected freezes, so I was delighted when I was able to get to Chapter 2-4 without a single problem. I was super happy, especially since people were actually watching my livestream.

Oh, how naïve I was.

Not long into that chapter, the screen went completely black--the PS4 turned itself off and restarted on its own. I was flummoxed. I had never, ever seen this happen with a console, and as I searched the Internet, it seemed this wasn't a common Knack problem. I eventually found a fellow victim, via GameFAQS, suffering the same fate, but it didn't provide any answers as to what was happening and why.

This makes me wonder if all launch PS4s are just one or two bad nights away from a failure. Last night's behavior earned my PS4 a few days in the proverbial Time Out corner. I don't intend to use Netflix or Knack again until updates are released, and I'll be giving the system in general the side-eye while I play other games. Maybe this is as simple as Knack knocking me out and Netflix behaving badly, but all of these issues coming together in the span of one night seems a little too coincidental for me. My guard is up and event flags have been set off.

I've got my eye on you, PS4. Don't disappoint me.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada

Site Editor
Date: 11/26/2013

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