PS3 Games Freezing

I was recently playing Devil May Cry 4 on Playstation 3 when the game froze on me before even getting to the Start screen. More specifically, the game froze on the Now Loading screen just before the opening trailer sequence. Waited on the screen for over 5 minutes with no progress. All controller keys were completely unresponsive.

Thought this was strange as I had been playing the game over the last two or three days without issue. Putting it down as a once off occurrence, I restarted and luckily this time I got to start a mission. Everything seemed fine till I stepped through a door in Mission 6 (just after the dice game) and the game froze again on the Now Loading screen.

Possible Causes: Jumped online and found this was a pretty common occurrence. Many people reported freezes in DMC4 at different points in the game. Some users experienced the hangs as soon as they got the game, whilst others played without issue for months before the problems began occurring.

I was unable to find a known solution: some users recommended re-installing the game (25 minute install for a console game…), others said to exchange the disk or even to send the console off for warranty! I found reports of this occurring in other games as well, including Oblivion and Assasins Creed, so I don’t think it’s the disks.

More likely explanations included overheating, hard-disk cache corruptions and buggy firmware updates. Seeing as how this problem has been reported for many months now though, I doubt it’s firmware. Overheating could be an issue, although in my case the console was running rather cool (at least on the outside anyway).

Background Downloads: One user seemed to think that having downloads running in the background in the Networking Download Manager was the cause of the DMC4 freezes. Sure enough, I was downloading a large demo of Bio-shock at the time of the crashes. After letting the download finish, I’ve played though about half the game without any issues.

This seems like a strange cause of complete system hangs, but correlates well with my experience: the game ran fine whilst I had no downloads running (or whilst my network connection was down), but as soon as I had Bio-shock downloading in the background I started having hangs - playing again with no background download tasks seemed to resolve the issue.

I may try testing this theory out in future, but if you’re experiencing any hangs in DMC4 or other PS3 games - check to see if you have background downloads going, and if so pause them and see if stability improves. I’d be interested to hear anyone’s comments on this.

Update: I haven't had a single crash in over four or five months with no background downloads running. Maybe this was the cause of the issue, maybe it only causes the issue in certain games, or maybe Sony fixed the problem in one of the firmware updates. Who knows. Now if only Lenovo solved the same problem in my X300...

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