By Joe Cammisa
I've always considered myself to be a platform agnostic type of gamer. I've been lucky to be decent with money for most of my life, and I've always tried to get all of the latest gaming consoles and handhelds so I can be sure I play the newest games that interest me.
I've also had my phases through my life. As a child, I was heavily into Nintendo dating back to my mom buying me an NES back in 1986 (I'm dating myself, arent' I?) all the way up until the original PlayStation was released, when my loyalties started to shift. I still bought what other platforms I could, but being a large RPG fan, I liked to follow Squaresoft and the Final Fantasy series.
That love affair with Sony continued into the PS2 era up until the Xbox 360 launched, which is when I started to become more of an Xbox fan due to controller preference, Xbox Live, digital games, and those sweet, sweet achievements. Despite that, I still picked up a PS3 and with this generation, I also had a PS4 on launch day to go along with my PS Vita and PSP. I was excited to see what the new generation of consoles could do, and despite a lackluster launch lineup, I was still excited to fire up Knack and Killzone and see what the future of gaming looked like.
Being a somewhat seasoned gamer, I've dealt with my fair share of console issues through my life. Whether it was blowing into NES games or even getting a red ringed Xbox 360, shit happens and at this point I know to get the extended warranties on new consoles, especially given my history with PlayStation products.
As much as I loved my original PlayStation, after a few years, I had to run the system upside down to play games due to the plastic components wearing down and having a situation where the laser was unable to get traction to move anymore unless it was upside-down. I also had to deal with laser issues on the PS2, the same issues where Sony was faced with a class action lawsuit due to it being such a widespread problem.
With the PS3, my original backwards compatible system eventually died on me, and I was forced to settle for a new slim model that didn't allow me to play my PS2 games anymore and as I type this, my PlayStation 3D Display (which I now use as a second computer monitor) has flickered on and off a few times, just because. Needless to say, Sony doesn't have the best track record with hardware.
Despite how much I enjoyed my brand new PS4, after almost a month, the first problem happened. There was a situation near launch where consoles would have a "blue light of death" issue where the console would never fully start up and would be stuck in a bootup state. I contacted Sony Support and was told I'd have to send it in for repair. This was just in my first month as an owner.
It was at this time that I was able to afford buying the extended replacement plan through Sony, and before even doing so I wanted to verify that it covered ME and my account instead of just one single system, considering I just had a console go bad in my first month of ownership. After being assured I'd be completely covered for three full years, I dropped the $60 to ensure that my brand new $400 purchase would be taken care of should any more problems occur.
That second system arrived, and right away I knew there was a problem. The console was noticeably louder than my first one and seemed to run fairly hot when playing any games at all. Given my first console was perfectly silent, I was worried but dealt with it until later in December when it was shutting down due to overheating. Sony was contacted and my system was on its way back to Sony to be replaced once again.
The third system showed up, and it was louder than the second one. Another call to Sony resulted in that one being sent back just a day later and replaced with a fourth that lasted up until June of last year, so it hung around for a few months, at least. That one, once again, had overheating issues and was shutting off on me, so it was shipped back to Sony for a fourth time and I was sent my fifth PS4 console in under a year.
Now, people might be wondering if it's a user issue. I've faced those questions from doubters of my story for months, and I completely understand that my issue is probably just the worst luck possible, but I take care of my consoles. I have my PS4 placed on TOP of my TV stand, with nothing surrounding it, so that it can get as much ventilation as possible. Meanwhile, I have an Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PS3, and a Wii with everything working just fine. I have a cat that likes to sleep on top of my Xbox One, despite my best efforts to keep her the hell off of it, and that system is whisper quiet and cool to the touch despite being on nearly 24 hours a day in my household. I've actually discussed this fact on my recent podcast episode here on Bleeding Cool with friends backing up my statements about how much ventilation my PS4 gets.
Last week, I got The Order: 1886 for the PS4. Despite the reviews, I was eager to fire up the PS4 and play the game. I spent an evening playing for two hours and then playing some other games and spending an hour copying some audio files from the system to a thumb drive. I went to bed, woke up, and decided to get back into my game and play some more. After about a half hour, I smelled something weird. It smelled like burning plastic and after thinking it was the heater kicking on (I live in PA, it is cold) I kept playing. Another half hour passed and the scent didn't go away, instead getting worse. I got up, smelled over by the PS4 and noticed it was most definitely coming from the console. I immediately unplugged the system and turned on the living room lights to see the living room had a smoky haze throughout.
I heard my wife stirring and she ended up waking up and running downstairs in a panic thinking our house was on fire because she smelled the burning plastic smell. I told her I was pretty sure it came from the PlayStation 4, and she asked me if it was smoky in the house or if her eyes were messing with her since she just woke up. She confirmed our suspicions – it smelled smoky when she went upstairs, turned on the lights up there, and the smoke was fairly thick. Obviously, I was quick to contact Sony about this issue.
After setting up a service, now being a year and 3 months after my purchase date, but still well within my three year extended warranty, I waited a week for my shipping box that never came. I contacted Sony again to get an update on the situation where I was informed that I was NOT under warranty anymore and that my $60 extended warranty only covered my then second console despite what I was told. I got off the online chat and called Sony support directly where I was put on hold for quite a while until I was eventually informed that they would NOT cover the PS4 unless I paid for the service. All of this, despite the fact that it had the potential to burn my house down if I wasn't around to notice the smell and unplug it. I immediately traded in my console as a broken, defective system (lessening my trade value) and put my money towards some upcoming Xbox One releases.
So, despite buying an extended warranty and being assured that I would be covered no matter what for three years, and not just on a single console, I was turned away from having my console serviced unless I paid them $150 to fix it. Despite the fact that my house filled with the scent of burning plastic and smoke for a day, Sony refused to address the problem unless I paid them another $150 after the $400 I paid for a console, $60 for the extended warranty, and whatever stupid amounts of money I've spent on games, accessories, and digital content. I could have had a house fire, and Sony didn't care about that unless I paid them to fix their defective and dangerous console.
I've had issues with my PlayStation products in the past, but it was never to the point where things got legitimately dangerous like this. I've dealt with laser problems, upside down consoles, flickering displays, hard drive failures, and PSN hacks, but I kept buying PlayStation products because I was a gamer and I enjoyed playing PlayStation games. That is changing starting now.
Sony refused to take care of their problematic console, so I won't take care of their problematic consoles either. I've already gotten rid of my defective PS4, and I absolutely will never give Sony money again for a brand new console or handheld because they do not care about their customers. Any issues I've had with Nintendo products were taken care of immediately. Any issues I've had with Xbox products were taken care of immediately. Any time I've had issues with Sony products, I've been given excuses and problems, delays and headaches, defective consoles and more defective consoles. I am done with them.
Once again, I acknowledge that my string of bad luck with my PS4 consoles is probably an unfortunate coincidence and that there are plenty of PS4 owners out there who have had zero issues and love their console. I can understand hardware going bad, it happens and it comes with the territory when buying new technology. I can NOT understand how Sony can deceive me into buying an extended warranty and then refuse to service my console despite the fact that it could have led to a fire, or worse. I'm disgusted to know that Sony got my money and I've gotten nothing but problems for over a year with my PS4. Is it wrong to assume you're going to get a working product when you drop $400 for it?
If you own a PS4 and you are happy with it, I hope it works out for you and you continue to not have problems, but if you are on the fence about getting one, please don't take this article lightly and REALLY consider whether or not you want to get the console. A quick google search even turns up multiple results about PS4s with burning smells, which scares the hell out of me. How many other defective consoles are out there? How bad can the problem be? All I know is that Sony will never get my money again, and I hope they don't get yours either.
*Editor's Note: Bleeding Cool reached out to Sony USA with this statement and they declined to comment on Joe Cammisa's experiences. Joe Cammisa has been the co-host of The SML Podcast on Bleeding Cool for some time.
Joe Cammisa is an unemployed nerd who spends his time gaming, hosting The SML Podcast, and sharing pictures of his five cats on Facebook. Yeah, five. You can annoy him on Twitter or on pretty much any gaming service under the name JoeCamNet.