Sony Computer Entertainment has offered to repair PlayStation Portables returned in Japan that suffer from a defective square button - despite conflicting comments from SCE boss Ken Kutaragi, who last month insisted defiantly that the issue "wasn't a mistake" and was "according to specifications".
Sony this week reiterated that it had only seen about 0.6 per cent of the 510,000 PSPs shipped in Japan during 2004 returned due to problems, even though the bulk of returns were due to the square, which is less responsive and in some cases doesn't click back up properly when pressed - a problem believed to be caused by its proximity to the LCD screen on the left side of the diamond of face buttons.
PSP owners suffering from the problem are encouraged to visit the Japanese PlayStation website for details on how to get the handheld repaired. Meanwhile Sony says that it has tweaked its manufacturing process so that none of the PSPs shipped since the start of the year have suffered from the problem.
Defending Sony against media concerns over the problem last month, Ken Kutaragi said, "I didn't want the PSP's LCD screen to become any smaller than this, nor did I want its machine body to become any larger. The button's location is on purpose. It's according to specifications. This is something that we've created, and this is our specification. There was a clear purpose to it, and it wasn't a mistake."
He even suggested that users would "have to adapt" to the problem of a malfunctioning square button - a comment that drew a hugely vitriolic response from the legions of Western gamers feasting on every morsel of PSP-related news ahead of the system's launch in the US on 24th March and in Europe later this year.
Whether or not the nature of the reaction caught Sony off-guard and convinced it to offer the repair service will probably never be known, sadly, but on the plus side we can at least thank Sony for helping to prompt some of this year's most interesting commentary, which certainly keeps us going while we're waiting for Ape Academy to load and busy trying to jimmy our square buttons out of the fascia.