The Fixya 2015 Gaming Console Report covers common issues and their solutions from popular high console manufacturers Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, delivering users a unique look into the state of the industry and the common problems associated with the most highly sought-after gaming consoles on the market today. Overall, our report discovered consistent problems across all gaming consoles with their audio and visual components, as well as a freezing issue that turns the console off. However, we also found that each individual brand had varying severity of their common problems, as well as unique and specific issues with their products that could not be found with their competitors.
Nintendo's Wii U scored the highest in problems reported in the new game console reliability report, with Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's Playstation 4 having less user-reported issues with their consoles.
The gaming industry has rapidly increased in size over the past decade, with more and more individuals using gaming consoles to unwind after a long day and explore deeper and more robust storylines within the games. In addition, all three systems serve as an entertainment console that can provide fun for the whole family - with apps like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and live sports, all members of the household are able to enjoy these systems even if they have no interest in playing games.
This makes choosing the right console even more important, as they are no longer made for a small subset of consumers who just enjoy videogames, even if that is their primary function.
Which is where we come in.
Drawing from our unique and proprietary data found on Fixya, as well as the Fixya Fixboard which provides unique actionable insight on today’s top high-definition television brands, we will cover some of the most common issues and solutions that each company has with its gaming consoles and give you the tools to find a solution.
We’re putting a spotlight on gaming consoles problems so you can see which one is right for you and your household. Let’s get started.
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U Synopsis:
Nintendo has a long-standing relationship with the gaming industry that stretches back to the 1970’s when the company switched gears from a toy business into the video game behemoth consumers know and love today. Recognized by gamers across the globe for their fun, party games and iconic characters like Mario, Nintendo appeals to wide set of consumers although it generally is considered third amongst the Microsoft Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Released in late 2012, the Wii U got a head start on its competitors by getting to market before the Xbox One and Playstation 4 by nearly an entire year. This early entry into the market allowed Nintendo to attempt to establish a strong base of users and siphon off gaming customers who were considering a next-gen platform and didn’t want to wait for the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
However, with the Wii U nearing its three-year anniversary in November this year, that early-market entry isn’t as important to users as it once was. And it has some problems with perspective The Wii U is positioned as a console that is more family oriented in its core product offering, and its relatively strict restriction (compared to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4) on third-party games means that the ecosystem of titles on the console is much more limited in scope than their direct competitors. Furthermore, although the Wii U did become the first console in Nintendo’s history to offer high-definition graphics, the specs under the hood don’t compare to the current offering that Microsoft and Sony can boast.
All that being said, Nintendo’s premier titles (Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong etc.) and attractive price point makes it a worthwhile option for a wide variety of individuals. The console does have its issues however—let’s explore them below.
Common Problems & Solutions for the Nintendo Wii U:
Reports of the Wii U freezing have been common since its launch in 2012, and while it appears Nintendo has addressed some of these issues over the course of the products lifespan, Fixya users are still having difficulties with their console freezing on them when they use the system. Issues with devices freezing is not a brand new problem in the field of electronics, but the depth of queries on Fixya with this issue makes it one of the more concerning issues for Nintendo Wii U owners.
If you’re having issues with your Wii U freezing, here are some troubleshooting options you can go through:
- Download any patches and updates for your Wii U by booting up your system, going into your system settings, and choosing the option to update your system.
- It’s possible you may have a faulty Wii AC adapter, the device that provides the power to your device. To fix this, unplug your adapter from the wall, leave the system off for a few minutes, and plug it back in before restarting the system.
- One of the associated issues with a console freezing is that the Wii U has become “bricked” (i.e. unable to be used anymore). After your device freezes, wait a few minutes before restarting it. If the console does not boot up properly after waiting a few minutes before restarting, immediately contact Nintendo customer service as your console may need to be replaced.
- Reset your Nintendo Wii U by turning off the console for two minutes, unplugging all of the cords associated with the device, and then plugging it back in.
- Make sure your Wii U is not overheating in any way. In order to reduce, put your system in a more open area with proper ventilation, place a fan next to the system in order to reduce heat, and ensure that the internal fan is running properly. If your console is overheating, make sure to let it rest for at least two hours before trying to boot it up again.
The Wii U remote is used to play games and control any movement on your television screen. The device has had reports of some issues that inhibit proper use of the device. There are a wide variety of issues with the Wii U remote that vary from simple fixes to requiring replacement. A few examples of typical remote issues are: not being able to be calibrated properly, losing connection when playing a game, the sensor not picking up your movements or a lagging sensor when taking it through movements, and the microphone not recognizing voice commands.
For users having Wii U remote problems, run through the following steps:
- First things first, double check to make sure you have fully charged batteries in your remote. A common problem is either batteries that are dead, or one battery that is not the same brand as the other.
- Make sure that there are lights that shine on the bottom of your device when it is turned on. If there is only one light, or no lights at all, prepare to sync your remote with your device. This is done by pressing the “sync” button on both your remote as well as your device.
- Go into settings and ensure that your remote’s settings are supporting what you are attempting to do with your device. If you have a third-party remote there is the potential for more issues with your device working properly, so ensure your settings are updated and reflect your needs.
- Make sure that there’s not too much distance between your remote and your console sensor when you are playing games.
- Download any patches and updates for your Wii U by booting up your system, going into your system settings, and choosing the option to update your system.
Fixya users have also reported issues with the disc drive of the Wii U. This issue presents itself in a myriad of ways, most notably when playing games, watching a DVD, or playing a CD from the device. The Wii U will not recognize the disc once it is inserted into the system, and either spin incessantly, display on error on your screen, or not acknowledge that you’ve put a disc into the system at all.
If you’re having issues with your Wii U’s disc drive, run through the following steps:
- Check your disc to make sure it doesn’t have any dirt, debris, or scratches on the underside of the disc that the Wii U is expecting to read it from. If the disc does have an issue, there is a variety of options you can use to clean the disc, but make sure it is with a safe material.
- Another possible problem is that the Wii U’s optical lens that reads the disc is faulty. If this is the case, purchasing a safe DVD cleaner is a possibility for users. However, please note that taking this step could void your warranty—for inexperienced users, we recommend calling Nintendo customer service to check in with them first.
- As we described in our first issue, the Wii U is also prone to overheating. This problem can also effect the disc drive and cause your discs not to be read correctly. Go through the steps listed above to cool your device, and then proceed to see if it reads your disc correctly.
Microsoft Xbox One
Microsft Xbox One Synopsis:
Microsoft has a long history delivering quality consoles to users—the Xbox One is the third such entertainment console the company has produced, with the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 coming before it. The Xbox One had bold aspirations from the moment it was announced in November of 2013. Positioned as an all inclusive entertainment system that would provide a wide variety of entertainment options (think TV, Skype, streaming movies, etc.), Microsoft transitioned the Xbox One away from its original Xbox roots as a pure gaming system into a device that the entire family was able to use in the living room and enjoy. Although the PlayStation 4 contains many of the same features, and the Wii U does to some degree as well, the Xbox One’s focus on serving a wider audience makes it an attractive option for consumers. Couple that with the stunning technological achievement that is the Kinect and it seemed as if Microsoft had a clear winner on its hands.
However, the Xbox One was hit with a rough response from the media from the moment it was announced. The issues centered around DRM (Digital Rights Management, embedded rules about what you can do with the content you buy) restrictions. This came around the time of revelations about the NSA and surveillance, igniting an American public that was becoming fatigued by revelations about surveillance. As users took umbrage with proposed plans to require an online connection when playing offline, a mandatory connection with the Kinect device, as well as significant restrictions on selling and sharing used games, Microsoft felt the heat and felt it in their sales figures for the first six months, especially compared to the PS4.
The company eventually changed its direction however, removing the vast majority of irksome features that bothered users and consumers. And while the Xbox One has shipped less than half of the amount of its console to stores than the PS4 to date (PS4 has surpassed 22.3 million systems sold, while Microsoft has delivered about10 million), the company is building on recent momentum and a recent price cut has brought more users into the field to interact with what is an excellent device.
But despite its rectified consumer consumers, a strong product lineup, and an excellent product at its core, the Xbox One still has some issues that consumers should be aware of.
Here’s the top three problems with Xbox One, and how to get them fixed.
Common Problems & Solutions with the Microsoft Xbox One:
The Kinect is a wonderful piece of technology that allows user to give commands to their device and play supported games via motion tracking and voice commands. This feature is a major selling point of the Xbox One, but unfortunately some issues have cropped up for users when attempting to use it.
The most common problem associated with the Kinect is that sometimes it simply does not work properly—whether that is voice commands not being recognized, the motion sensor technology malfunctioning, or games that leverage Kinect for in-game play not being able to be played because of these issues.
For Kinect issues, there are a couple of options for users:
- Make sure your Kinect is plugged in properly.
- Do a reset of your Xbox One by turning off the system for two minutes, unplugging all of the cords associated with the device, and then plugging it back in.
- Make sure your Kinect settings are up to date and compatible with what you are trying to do with it.
Since the inception of the device, the Microsoft Xbox One has had problems with its audio. This issue manifests itself in a couple ways—the primary problem happens when users are listening on their television or external speaker system, while the second problem occurs with the headset microphone that causes issues for other people you are playing with. For the TV and external speakers issue, the audio can be quiet, may only come out of a single speaker, or won’t be able to be heard at all. This obviously presents issues for users, especially if they do not have a set of headphones they usually use when playing games or consuming media with the system. For the headset microphone, the issue is that the microphone is incredibly sensitive and will pick up extraneous sounds occurring in the background a long way away.
Here’s what users can try to fix their audio issues:
- For your headset microphone, turn down the volume of your microphone output and input from the settings menu. This helps reduce the amount of cluttered noise you will hear from other users who are using a microphone that is very loud.
- Microsoft has replaced A/V cables with a single HDMI or optical cable that runs the audio and visual connection between your television and Xbox One. This means that the issue may be with the HDMI cable that came with your device and could require a replacement piece.
- Ensure your HDMI or optical cable is free of any defects or damage.
- Do a reset of your Xbox One by turning off the Xbox One for two minutes, unplugging all of the cords associated with the device, and then plugging it back in.
- Examine your Xbox One’s display and sound settings through the settings menu on the home page and ensure you have the correct option selected.
As an entertainment system, the controller is probably the most important part of the user experience. It controls everything you do on screen, and while the Kinect has to some degree made the experience a little more well-rounded by introducing functions for specific scenarios in your experience, the vast majority of time users spend using the system are with the controller. It’s how you play games, and even if you’re just using the Xbox One for entertainment purposes, human beings’ familiarity with controllers make it the default for users.
This is made even more important by the fact that Xbox One no longer has to be purchased pre-bundled with the Kinect—consumers now have the option of purchasing the console without the Kinect, making a smooth controller experience all the more important.
Unfortunately for users, the Xbox controller has posed some problems over the years. This is seen in various ways, with the two most prevalent being the lack of an ability to set universal settings for your controller that makes every game you play adhere to those settings (instead of changing them for every single game), the fact that Microsoft still requires some of their controllers to use batteries instead of automatically providing a model that is able to be re-charged (that add-on is sold separately), and faulty thumbsticks that become worn down quickly and/or become faulty by setting its default resting position to the “up” position (meaning if you don’t touch the controller the cursor on your screen is going to slowly drift up the screen).
Here’s how to solve these controller issues for your Xbox One:
- For battery-controllers, there’s no real way to get around the issue. You must either purchase new batteries when needed, or buy an add-on that allows your controller to be recharged with a self-contained battery pack.
- For universal settings issues, you’ll have to set your controller settings individually for each game—the feature that was in the Xbox 360 is no longer present in the Xbox One. To set your controller settings for each game, go to the main menu and configure your settings to your liking via the Settings tab.
- For faulty thumbsticks wearing down, remember that a little movement goes a long way. Avoid keeping your controller pressed in any one direction for an extended period of time, make sure it is stored in a safe place, and periodically clean the device.
- For thumbsticks that are faulty and automatically causing the cursor to drift upwards, turn off your console. When you restart the device, make sure you are not pushing on the thumbstick in any way. This will sometimes reset the controller to its correct default—if not, you will have to call Microsoft Customer Service and exercise your warranty to get a new controller that isn’t faulty.
Sony Playstation 4
Sony Playstation 4 Synopsis:
In no uncertain terms, the Sony Playstation 4 has established itself as the most popular next generation video game console on the market, at least with consumers. The device has shipped over 23 million products to stores across the world, assertively passing the Microsoft Xbox One (10 million) and the Nintendo Wii U (9.5 million).
Boasting impressive specs, a wide variety of video game consoles for gaming aficionados, and an even larger variety of entertainment options for the whole family that come in the form of apps in its online marketplace, the PS4’s ability to serve as a home entertainment console for a wide variety of users made it a hot-seller during the 2014 holiday season and has continued that strength into the spring of 2015.
Along with games, the PS4 offers numerous other ways for users to take advantage of the device - it has music and entertainment options, a built-in browser that users can use to browse the web, the ability to live broadcast your gaming achievements at the click of a button, and voice control which allows users to dictate menu selections and other decisions hands-free. Its primary competitor the Xbox One also possesses many of these features as well.
So what are the issues with the Playstation 4? We examine them below.
Common Problems & Solutions:
It would make sense that audio and video are the most important things to have when booting up the Playstation 4, but unfortunately some users have reported issues with the audio or video with their PlayStation 4. The frustration associated with this problem cannot be understated, as it renders the Playstation 4 unable to provide any sort of worthwhile experience for the user—without audio or video functionality, the device simply does not work. These issues run the gamut from only audio issues, only video issues, and issues with both audio and video both not working at the same time.
Thankfully this issue can be relatively easy to solve if the right steps are taken. Here’s how to tackle the issue.
- Check if your PlayStation 4 is experiencing a blinking red or blue indicator light. If it is, please run through the troubleshooting steps for that issue (found above in this report).
- Via the settings menu on your PlayStation 4 home screen, ensure that all of the audio and video options for your PlayStation 4 are up to date and what you need for your specific purposes and television.
- A short-term fix for any audio issues can be to use headphones to listen to any audio - sometimes audio can still be heard through headphones though not your television.
- Examine your HDMI cable and/or the HDMI ports on your television for any issues, as sometimes the PlayStation 4 will not display audio or video despite the issue not being a result of the console malfunctioning.
- Replace your HDMI cable to check to see if the issue is with your HDMI cable and that the issue is not with your console or television.
- Update your PlayStation 4's firmware and software via any available online updates.
Console Turning Off
The PlayStation 4 can turn off unexpectedly when using the device, and in rarer cases, will not turn on at all when the power button is hit. When the Playstation 4 is working it will display a white indicator light, but when it’s not, either a blinking blue or blinking red light will pop up. Whether you have a blue or red light that is blinking, the console is unable to be used and may require being sent into Sony for repairs or replacement in order to get it working properly again.
However, there are some steps users can take before reaching out to Sony. And we have them right here.
- Reset your PlayStation 4 by turning it off, unplugging all of the cords associated with the device, and then plugging it back in.
- Before plugging it back in, users can also carefully open the hard drive to see if there is any issues with the disc drive that are causing the problem.
- Examine your HDMI cable and/or the HDMI ports on your television for any issues, as sometimes the PlayStation 4 will show an error result despite the issue not being a result of the console malfunctioning.
- Put the system in a more open area with proper ventilation.
- Place a fan next to the system in order to reduce heat.
- Ensure that the internal fan is running properly – you should hear it while the console is running.
As we’ve seen with the overheating issues of many devices in our reports, users of any electronic device have inevitably had to deal with their device freezing and requiring a reboot. Some PlayStation 4 users have encountered a trend of their console freezing at inopportune times, specifically when updating their device via the PlayStation Network and using their device to play games or consume media.
Obviously freezing can be a huge inconvenience, but thankfully it appears to be one of the more manageable issues compared to other maladies with the PlayStation 4. For issues with your PlayStation 4 freezing, users can go through the following steps.
- Download any software or firmware updates via the PlayStation Network, which can be accessed from your console's home screen.
- If your console is freezing while accessing the PlayStation Network to download any updates, visit the Sony Support site and download the updates to your computer there, then transfer them via a USB connection that plugs directly into your console.
- Reset your PlayStation 4 by turning it off for two minutes, unplugging all of the cords associated with the device, and then plugging it back in.
- Put the system in a more open area with proper ventilation, place a fan next to the system in order to reduce heat, and ensure that the internal fan is running properly—you should hear it while the console is running. If your console is overheating, make sure to let it rest for at least two hours before trying to boot it up again.