Diary of a time without PS3

2009-04-02
Day 0:

After just 30 minutes of play, the display went black and everything disappeared from view. The sole remaining sign of life was the red flashing light on the front of the machine. The beeps of protest as the PS3 transitioned to this state of unanimated misery said it all: I knew instantly that this PS3 was gone forever.

The majority of Day Zero was spent moping, but with considerable time also wasted worrying about whether a backup had succeeded, and whether or not it'd be usable on a new PS3. A phone conversation with Sony support confirmed that the failures out of warranty weren't something Sony cared about, and the company denied an increasingly common problem. It'd be £150 for a refurbished model, with no repair possible. With stories of replacements failing quickly, and only a three-month guarantee offered, a new console seemed like the best option, but with rumours of a price drop looming, it was the beginning of a waiting game.

Day 1:

The first full day without a PS3 has been confusing. Sunlight and girls (well, *the* girl) are two discoveries that remind me there are plenty more important things in life, but it'll be a strange jump back into the real world, with definite need for sunglasses, sun cream, and some sort of repetitive puzzle to distract from the nervous twitch swiftly forming to replace my regular addiction. Everything seems to remind me of the lost black beast, with triangles, circles, crosses and squares seemingly everywhere, PS3 adverts now dominating the TV (perhaps I just wasn't watching much TV before).

Just in case, I tried powering up the PS3 several times, but with no luck. With the awesome Valkyria Chronicles stuck inside, the PS3 was not coming back. I extracted the upgraded HDD to save for a new PS3, with my fingers crossed that my backup would allow me to restore my data. Even so, the cost of a replacement PS3 was an unwelcome one.

Day 2:

The GDC conference has kicked off and, if Sony have any sense at all, and are to stand any chance of making any major breakthrough in sales, they need to drop the price of PS3. Every analyst on the planet is saying it, and every developer, and consumer agrees. Of course, I'm also desperate for the drop in price, but Sony would be stupid not to.

Breaks from work are dominated by news stories from PS3 websites, all continuing on in the world of PS3. I wonder what it was like when we lived in caves and didn't even have PSN IDs. Three times in one evening I think "I'll just have a go on..." before realized it's not going to happen.

Day 3:

Reality has set in, and there's still no sign of a price drop. I've turned to food for comfort. Well, actually, I haven't, but it seems like I probably should. I'm actually coping without PS3 reasonably well, but am keen to retrieve lost downloads and to have some way to use the discs that are now completely redundant on the shelf. During the evening, the thought of quickly checking the internet on the PS3 crosses my mind. How many times will I have similar thoughts that remind me the PS3 is gone? I'm obviously quite a slow learner. Four checks of various news sites later and there's still no price drop. There was less sun today though, and not a butterfly in sight. The real world truly is fascinating, and still has the edge in terms of smell and, occasionally, sound. Still, games are often more brightly coloured, varied and packed full of action. Since not having a PS3, I've done no hours of flying, shot no guns, discovered no treasure and saved no women from gangs of evil pirates. On the plus side, I'm no longer seeing Lumines blocks fall down in front of my eyes. That's definitely got to be a good thing.

Day 4:

Paranoia has started to set in now, with fears about many things that could go wrong with a replacement PS3. Could the new machine fail as well? Could there be a price cut immediately after purchase? That latest fear though: will it allow connection to the PSN at all? Two friends who have recently bought PS3s are able to check the internet with their PS3s no problem, and they can download new firmware, but as soon as they try to connect to the PSN... all goes wrong, and the connection times out. It could be a router problem, but no other devices have a problem. In addition, one friend has a housemate with a PS3 that connects fine (an older model), where as the new model, under identical exterior conditions (connections, network settings, proximity, etc...) cannot connect. Spending huge sums of money on a replacement PS3, only to find that the network couldn't be reliably reached would be a massive blow. It's the day of nervous worrying.

Day 5:

Surprisingly, Day 5 has been slightly easier. With only one day of GDC remaining, it's getting uncomfortably close to the possibility that there'll be no price drop this week. It'll be a tough decision this weekend: if there's no price drop now, do I go ahead and replace it, or do I wait longer and see what happens? There don't seem to be any other major events soon, although there's April, the start of a new financial year for many. After that, it's E3 in June, but that's too long to wait when there's so many games going unplayed. The thought of taking apart the old PS3 to retrieve the disc is still nervous-making, and there's still doubt surrounding the success of the HDD backup and the potential network problems with a new PS3. That aside, it has been an interesting period of time, and an opportunity to catch up on other things.

Days 6-9:

Days have started to blend together, a good excuse for merging several diary days into one. There's speculation of an announcement by Sony on Tuesday though, with many wishing for a price drop for the PS3, with others wisely avoiding wild speculation. Still, gaming news sites are certainly stirred by Sony's recent activity, so it'd be worth hanging on until Tuesday before ordering a replacement console.

Day 10:

The big announcement finally arrives and, predictably, it's not the right move. It's a price drop, but for PS2, by an almost insignificant amount. The PS3 desperately needs a reduced price to really start outdoing the competition, but apparently Sony can't afford to do that yet. Sadly, with a PS3 to replace, it looks like there'll be no help from Sony. It's quite interesting to see the negative feedback from readers over the news. It's our own fault for getting our hopes up about a PS3 price drop, but when there's an announcement that there's going to be an announcement, it sounds like it should be big, and big, to most people, is not what happened on the day. It's another day where Sony need to perhaps analyze their approach to communication one more time and have a think.

Day 11-13:

After just 11 days, the wait is too much, the withdrawl too painful and the absence of PS3 unbearable. With that, a replacement is ordered and should arrive soon. It's at that point that it'll be possible to figure out if the backup/restore utility is actually worth anything. With a few games, videos and other bits of data that would be nice to carry over, it'd be disappointing if the backup utility on the console won't permit the transfer to a new console. The postage is set to take a couple of days.

Day 14:

After what feels like two weeks without a PS3, a fortnight has passed, and finally the new PS3 has arrived. It looks very snazzy, and is about half the weight of the original, but the absence of two of the USB ports and the CF/SD card readers is an immediate disappointment. Things also look to have become a little cheaper too, with the chrome trim now a dull grey plastic. Still, it's what's under the hood that counts, and everything seems to work brilliantly. The only problem: Sony don't trust us enough to allow a backup to copy everything from a broken PS3 to a new one. How incredibly irritating! It's very nearly enough to make me lose faith in Sony. The backup copies across all the rubbish (trailers, pictures and all the other stuff you can easily get elsewhere and probably have stored on your PS3), but doesn't allow you to restore any downloaded games or demos. It's pathetic. The demos may have something to do with the rumoured charge Sony level at publishers for each download of a demo, while the games being missing from the backup forces you to download all the games again. Given that you have a limit of five activated PS3s, there's a concern that, with enough broken PS3s, people could start facing difficulties with content they've paid for.

Day 15-17:

With extra downloads remaining on my purchase list, the process of downloading every previously-purchase game, updating every bit of firmware and retrieving all the extra content begins. It's a bit tedious, but with every completed download, the precious black box takes another significant step towards its full potential. Eventually, two and a half weeks after the original PS3 broke down, the new PS3 is fully set, updated and ready to go. Time to retrieve that Valkyria Chronicles disc!

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