Sony pulls PS3 update after complaints it bricks consoles

The company's gaming arm said it is investigating and will update users as soon as it pinpoints the issue

Sony's gaming division pulled its latest firmware update for the PlayStation 3 Wednesday, after widespread reports that installing it could render the console useless.

Gamers took to Twitter and online forums such as Reddit to spread word that PS3 firmware update version 4.45 "bricks" consoles and warn their peers not to install. Sony Computer Entertainment, the company's gaming division, said it was still working on finding out what the issue was.

"We are working to quickly identify the problem, and will post updates to our global websites as soon as we have found it," said spokeswoman Yoshiko Uchiyama in Tokyo, adding the company was sorry for the inconvenience.

A quick reaction is crucial for the company. Sony is enjoying the good graces of the fickle gaming community after a string of popular announcements around its upcoming PlayStation 4 console. The PS4 will be US$100 cheaper than Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One, without the Xbox's requirement to play online and fewer restrictions on lending and selling older games.

A posting on the gaming section of the news and discussion site Reddit titled "DO NOT UPDATE YOUR PS3!" was quickly voted up to the front page of the site. Commenters said the latest firmware update caused the console to hang indefinitely, and the issue seemed to be unrelated to the version of the PS3 used, although many PS3 owners reported no issues.

Some PS3 owners said they were forced to update to use services such as Netflix, while many use the console's auto-update feature by default. On Reddit, some predicted that currently frozen consoles will be restorable using the PS3's "safe mode" boot feature and installing from an external USB drive.

Sony's support sites listed firmware version 4.41, released in April, as the latest update on Wednesday.

Sony's gaming business has gradually recovered from the wrath of gamers after a hacker took on its gaming network in 2011. In addition to a service outage and the leaking of user information to hackers, the company was criticized for its failure to promptly share information about the incident with the public.

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