Sony Pulls Console-Paralyzing PS3 Update

After a routine firmware update was reported to “brick” some users’ PlayStation 3 devices, Sony on Wednesday pulled the update until it is able to resolve the problem.

“Hi guys, we’re aware of reports that the recent PS3 update (4.45) has caused,” wrote PlayStation Europe in a Wednesday tweet. “We have temporarily taken 4.45 offline and are investigating.

“We will announce when the system update is available for download as soon as possible and we apologize for the inconvenience,” it added.

‘I’m Not Installing the Update’

Firmware updates typically bolster software to run more smoothly, plug security holes and update features. The current update was supposed to improve overall system stability, and also add trophy notification so that users could opt to be notified — or not — of trophies once they’ve been earned during games.

For some, however, that wasn’t quite how it played out. Elsewhere on Twitter gamers posted their grievances in 140 characters or less.

“#Sony #PS3 owners, I’m not installing the new update,” tweeted @PaulCharchian, for example. “Here’s a 138 page (!) thread of bricked consoles:”

Sony did not respond to our request for further details.

Routine Outage

“There have been a number of outages and issues over the years when an update has inconvenienced or outright bricked consoles or a variety of consumer electronics,” Lewis Ward, research manager for gaming at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

In 2009, an outage that reportedly bricked PlayStation 3 consoles led to a class-action lawsuit filed against Sony.

More recently, in 2011, Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked, taking the network down for about a month.

“They’ve been plagued by online issues,” Billy Pidgeon, an independent video game analyst, told TechNewsWorld. “Much of it is not their fault — they’ve been blamed for the hacking that took place.”

Nevertheless, “they should have tested [this update] more thoroughly,” Pidgeon said.

Game On

Will Sony recover from this outage? Probably.

While there is lots of chatter on the PlayStation message boards, Twitter and other social networks, only a portion of PlayStation 3 owners are affected by this problem. The remainder of PS3 owners underwent update 4.45 without problems, or have not installed the update and will be able to use their consoles until 4.45 is back online.

“If it’s less than 12 hours or one day, I think the vast majority of console owners are pretty forgiving, as long as it doesn’t happen again for a few months,” said Ward.

After the month-long PSN outage, Sony issued “Welcome Back” messages and incentives, including free game downloads.

“If it’s really bad, they might sweeten the pot with some downloads,” said Ward. “If anything, this kills use until it’s resolved.”

Firmware Pain

Even when the firmware updates run without issue, though, the PlayStation 3 updates are not without a little pain.

“The update process on the PS3 is pretty frustrating compared to the Xbox 360 in that it takes a lot longer and you can’t do other things while it’s downloading,” noted Pidgeon. “If you fire up the system and you have an update, you have to wait for the update to install before you can play your game.

“It seems that Microsoft has been the leader there,” he added. “Their updates have been smaller and easier.”

With both Sony and Microsoft releasing their next-generation consoles in the fall, the hope is that Sony will learn from its mistake and improve its firmware update process.

“They’ll probably be glad to switch over to the PS4, but this stuff better not follow them,” said Pidgeon.

The outage probably won’t deter many from upgrading to the next Sony system, Pidgeon said.

“They bought a PS3 — they’re a good target for PS4 as well,” he explained. “Some people get both.”

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