(Source: YouTube)
Sony is the first OEM to respond, claims only 1 percent of consoles experience defects

The earlier bird certainly didn't seem to get the worm in the eighth generation of console wars.  Nintendo Comp., Ltd.'s (TYO:7974) tablet-equipped Wii U console hit the market first debuting last year and seeing decent sales during the Holiday 2012 season.  But sales have since plunged amidst a lack of compelling titles and disappointment in Nintendo's new controller.

I. PS4 -- Blue Light Special

But so far Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) look to be off to an even rockier start, despite seeing strong initial sales.

The $399 USD PS4 launched last Friday and almost instantly reports of broken consoles started popping up.  Sony, to its credit, responded relatively quickly, saying that some consoles had shipped broken and it would be working with customers to replace these models.

Chinese language nternet posters claiming to be employees of Hon Hai Precision Industry Comp. Ltd. (TPE:2317) subsidiary Foxconn -- the Chinese firm responsible for assembling the PS4 -- posted in forums that they were disgruntled with working conditions and had purposefully sabotaged PS4s.

[WARNING: This video contains potentially NSFW language]

Whether or not those claims are true, what is clear is that many broken PS4s shipped.  The most common symptom appears to be an eerie "blue light of death" (BLoD, for short).

Sony says this may be due to more than one issue.  Sony Spokesman Dan Race states to Forbes, "There have been several issues reported, which leads us to believe there isn’t a singular problem that could impact a broader percentage of PS4 units.  We understand the frustration of consumers that have had a problem and are working with them and our retail partners to help troubleshoot issues and ensure affected units are exchanged."

A second Tokyo-based spokesman, Satoshi Nakajima, claims poor shipping may be to blame.  He tells Bloomberg, "There have been several issues reported, which leads us to believe there isn’t a singular problem that could impact a broader percentage of PS4 units.  We also understand that some units were reportedly damaged during shipping."

Sony estimates 1 percent of consoles, roughly, are defective in some way.  If true this would indicate about 10,000-20,000 total defective units (given that the PS4 sold 1 million units in its first day (last Friday).  That wouldn't be so bad -- if accurate -- as new console often have a small number of non-working unit.  Even the WiiU -- a relatively reliable console had a few failure reports in its, Inc. (AMZN) reviews.

That said, the numbers on some sites seem to be a bit higher than 1 percent.   On Amazon there were 800+ one star reviews (~23 percent) -- mostly due to defective consoles, versus 2,300+ five star reviews (~66 percent).  Of course such statistics always need to be taken with a grain of salt as people with defective products are more likely to bother to leave a review.

II. Microsoft -- Fresh Ground Discs

But lest you think Microsoft was going to storm in and capture the day, its $499 USD Xbox One console launched today (priced at $100 USD more than the PS4) and already reports of problems are pouring in.  Of 619 reviews on Amazon 206 of them (~33 percent) are 1 stars, while 340 of them (~55 percent) are 5 stars.  In other words, so far a higher percent of users are claiming to have defective Xbox One consoles than defective PlayStation 4s -- on Amazon, at least.

The leading problem appears to be the "The Disc Grinding Noise of Death", which is reportedly ruining/chewing up game discs.  The noise certainly sounds rather epically bad.

There's also growing reports of "green screens of death" -- a tendency for the Xbox One to freeze on its green boot-up screen. Or on a subsequent screen showing the controller.

Microsoft actually reportedly started pushing an emergency update.  But that update to customers, an update which apparently was not ready for prime time.  This "fix" messed things up even worse, with it flagging some users consoles as "banned units", which has now been flashed into those consoles' memory.

In the past Microsoft's bans -- typically reserved for cheaters and extreme trolls -- were permanent and could not be easily undone.  So Microsoft might have to replace these consoles.  It was widely reported that one user who got their console early was "banned" for posting videos.  It's possible they instead ran into this bug.

Other users apparently experienced infinitely updating loops -- a so called "E100" error.

Last, but not least, some Xbox One consoles appear to be experience odd artifacting issues for some reason:

Some Xbox One games are also lagging/freezing.

Could more sabotage be afoot here?  Amazingly it seems like Microsoft's issues may be even worse, as at least Sony's consoles haven't experienced in-game issues for those whose consoles survived that far.

It looks like Microsoft and Sony's consoles are having a deathmatch -- a literal one.  And somewhere Nintendo must be laughing -- sure its consoles aren't selling like its rivals'.  But at least they're not breaking as often.

Sources: YouTube, Forbes, Bloomberg

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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