[UPDATED with news that Sony has fixed the problem.]
If you're playing a game right now on your PlayStation 4 — or will be soon — drop everything and make sure no one but your friends can privately message you.
Gamers on Reddit and elsewhere are complaining of a newly discovered bug that crashes the PlayStation 4 and effectively turns it into a brick unless you factory reset the console. The problem comes in the form of a special character that, when sent to you in a private message, immediately causes the console to crash and you to have a big problem on your hands.
Gamers across Reddit and PlayStation forums said that they've experienced it often during online play. They'll be playing in a team with friends and then they'll receive a message from someone on the opposing team. The move appears to be an attempt for some teams to take advantage over others.
According to the reports, which were earlier cited by HotHardware, some people said the only fix for the problem was to factory reset their console. Others, however, said that they were able to revive their consoles by downloading the free PlayStation 4 chat app on their iOS- or Android-based devices and then delete the offending message there. When they tried to boot up their console, it would work again.
However, according to reports, when they chose that option, they still needed to rebuild their console database. In order to do that, they needed to boot the PlayStation 4 in safe mode and choose to rebuild the database. That process can be painstakingly long — and annoying if you were hoping to catch a few rounds in Black Ops' Blackout mode.
If you choose to factory reset your console, everything will start from scratch, which again, isn't exactly ideal.
How to Change Your Messaging Settings
For its part, Sony hasn't said what's happening and when it'll issue a fix. In the meantime, then, you'll want to change your message settings to stop people from sending you content that will brick your console.
To do that, go to your PlayStation 4's settings menu and choose Account Management. Next, pick Privacy Settings and then Personal Info | Messaging. There, you'll see an option for Messages, where you can ditch allowing anyone to send you messages and change it to "Friends only" or "No one." If your friends are pranksters, however, go with the latter.
If you're away from your PS4, and don't want to wait, you can perform this change remotely. Just download the PlayStation app (available from iOS app store and Google Play), sign in, tap the PS button, tap settings (in top row, scroll to the right), tap Privacy settings, tap Personal Info | Messaging, re-sign in, tap the Edit button next to Messages, and select Friends Only or No One. Then tap Save, and you're done!
UPDATE: Sony's Ask PlayStation UK Twitter account said Monday (Oct. 15) that the issue had been fixed.