Sony Refuses PS3-Linux Reimbursment

April 17, 2010 Written by Kyle P.

Gamers around the world are still furious over Sony’s recent decision to remove the popular “OtherOS” feature from their PlayStation 3’s. This feature allowed gamers to install Linux and other popular Operation System’s onto their PS3. Once an important selling point early in the console’s life, Sony entirely removed the feature in the slimmed down 120GB PS3, which released last September. However, the option was still available to all of the earlier models of the PlayStation 3’s–the “Fat” models. Sony made the decision to remove the feature, from all models, when noted iPhone jailbreaker known as Geohot “100% hacked the PS3“. Obviously, this worried Sony, as they would not allow their behemoth vulnerable to hacking, which would lead down the road to open piracy. So earlier this month, they removed the feature from all versions of the console, via firmware 3.21. Gamers who did not want to download the mandatory update would not be able to play the newest version of Blu-Rays or connect to the PlayStation Network. With this incident, many gamers are crying foul play and are demanding reimbursement for their console. Unfortunately, it seems like Sony won’t be playing that game.

A Sony representative commented on Amazon UK’s recent decision to partially refund the price of a PlayStation 3, after the disgruntled owner cited broken European consumer protection law–most notable, the Sales of Goods Act. However, a recent comment from PR head honcho David Wilson cemented Sony’s position, saying that Sony will not reimburse retailers who offer refunds to gamers who are upset over the Linux removal.

“We do understand the frustration a small number of consumers may feel at SCE’s decision to provide an upgrade to the firmware to disable the Linux operating system but we refute any suggestion that this action is in any way a contravention of the terms of Sale of Goods Act.”

Wilson continued, calling the PS3 “first and foremost a games console”.

“The PS3 is first and foremost a games console and our marketing materials for the console reflect this. The console packaging and the in-box manual for the console do not refer to the use of Linux on the console. Rather, the console packaging states that the product’s design and specifications are subject to change without notice and that the system software within the console is subject to a limited licence between SCE and the consumer, and this licence permits SCE to update the system software and services offered from time to time.”

Certainly, this will just add more fuel to the fire. The argument of gamers worldwide is that Sony advertised and talked about the OtherOS feature. Removing a feature they advertised breaks many of the consumer protection laws, worldwide.  Many people are furious over Sony’s decision, and are seriously considering banding together, in a class action lawsuit. And they do have some ground to go on. Before the PlayStation 3 launched in  November of 2006, Ken Kutaragi, then-President of SCE, praised the PS3, for being more than a computer.

“Speaking about the PS3, we never said we will release a game console. It is radically different from the previous PlayStation. It is clearly a computer.”

And let’s not forget about the “Open Platform” webpage, that clearly boasts the console’s ability to run a completely new Operating System. Or the GDC 2007 interview with Kai Staats, Co-Founder and CEO of Terra Soft Solutions, who explicitly states that Sony contracted his company to design a version of YellowDogLinux to run on the PlayStation 3.

However, Sony is not backing down. They cite that the same Sales of Goods Act gamers are using to their defense, can also be used to aid themselves.

“The provision in the Sale of Goods Act which requires an item to be fit for a purpose made known by the consumer to the retailer prior to purchase and confirmed by the retailer applies only to the contract between the retailer and the consumer. The decision by Amazon to give a  consumer a partial refund is clearly between Amazon and the consumer, but we do not expect the decision to have a legal basis and we have no plans to compensate retailers.”

It will be interesting to see, over the coming months, whether a lawsuit is filed. Until then, we will all just have to hope Sony will add features to the PlayStation 3, not remove them. Did you ever use the “OtherOS” feature? If so, are you still using it? Did you update? Post your responses in the comments section below.