After six years in the courts, Sony has agreed to pay as many as 10 million Playstation owners a few bucks, all because of a firmware update and what might be considered false advertising.
Way back in 2010, when Sony was still focused on its Playstation 3, the company released an update to the machine’s software. That update ended a somewhat little-used bit of functionality: the ability to load the Linux operating system onto your PS3. For most players, that was never an issue, but for some, it was a feature that helped drive their decision to snag a PS3 at all.
Before 2010, Sony allowed users to upload alternative software to run their PS3s, but as Ars Technica reports, did away with that feature in 2010 because of some amorphous, never-explained “security concerns.” It claimed the PS3 update killing the feature was voluntary, but like most Playstation updates, not submitting to the new software meant players couldn’t access the console’s online features.
A class-action lawsuit followed, and now, six years on, a settlement has been reached, although it still needs to be approved by a California federal judge. The suit covers “all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010.” People who were actually using the Other OS feature would get $55 from Sony under the plan; everybody else would get $9.
Really, though, this isn’t just free money from Sony. It’s supposed to be for people burned by the loss of the Other OS feature, not those of us who didn’t even know about it. To get the $55, you actually have to say, under oath, that you loaded Linux onto your Playstation 3, and provide details like serial numbers and your Playstation Network account name. For the $9, you have to claim that you “relied on” and intended to use the Other OS feature, or that losing that feature devalued the system for you.
So those of us who didn’t even know the PS3 had some kind of operating system switch feature aren’t entitled to money, and will surely do the right and honorable thing and not claim any if and when the settlement is approved. Expect that to happen in July. You can kill some of that time by reading the full settlement agreement.