So the BBC Watchdog TV programme did a piece about PS3s being less than bulletproof. The claim is that half a percent of PS3s fail. And as they sell in the millions this is still a lot of machines. Once your PS3 is more than a year old Sony charge about £120 for fixing it, whereas Microsoft, with their Xbox 360, give a three year warranty. But Microsoft were pretty much forced into this when earlier 360s showed a far higher incidence of Red Ring of Death (RROD) than the half percent we are talking about here.
These game consoles contain a lot of electronics, especially early in their product lives. Later models contain progressively fewer components as the semiconductors are developed. These electronics give out a huge amount of heat and as the consoles are built to a price this can sometimes become a problem. Users make the problem worse by putting their machines in confined or hot places or by unknowingly blocking the ventilation. Heat damage takes two forms. The sheer intensity of it can fry components, then there is the shrinking and expanding of everything as the machine is switched on and off, which is cyclical damage. And which is why some people leave their computers permanently switched on. Another problem is dust build up inside the machine over time, which can prevent the cooling system working.
Whilst for most owners this is pretty much a non story it must be pretty infuriating for those that suffer it. The only real answer is to put more engineering into manufacturing these machines, but then they would become more expensive to buy.