A California man on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against Sony Computer Entertainment America for disabling the PlayStation 3's ability to accommodate third-party operating systems.
In the complaint (via IGN
), Anthony Ventura alleged that SCEA's disablement of the feature "is not only a breach of the sales contract between Sony and its customers and a breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, but it is also an unfair and deceptive business practice perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting customers."
The suit represents a class that includes anyone who purchased a PS3 (and didn't resell it) between the console's North American release date on November 17, 2006, and March 27, 2010, the day before Sony said it would release a PS3 firmware update on April 1 that would disable the Other OS feature.
The complaint said that Sony misled consumers by marketing the PS3 as a console capable of running another OS. The complaint cited numerous instances in which Sony printed or talked about the advantages of using the PS3's Other OS option for increased multimedia capabilities.
"Plaintiff chose to purchase a PS3, as opposed to an Xbox or Wii, because it offered the Other OS feature... despite the fact that the PS3 was substantially more expensive than other gaming consoles," the suit said.
The "Other OS" feature on PS3 allowed users to install the open-source Linux operating system on the console, or other compatible operating systems. Sony eliminated the feature in the newer PS3 slim models.
While consumers who wanted to keep the Other OS feature had the option to not install the new firmware update, if they chose not to install it they would not be able to use PS3's online networking capabilities, or other features such as game and video disc playback for certain titles and movies requiring the new firmware.
"Sony did not provide any other notice [outside of a March 28, 2010 blog post] to its customers that it would disable these other advertised features unless they installed the Update 3.21," said the suit. "Sony [forced] consumers to choose between the Other OS feature and other valuable functions."
Sony originally included the feature to allow users to use Linux to essentially turn their PS3s into home computers, but the company later said that it removed the option due to security concerns.
Ventura's complaint said that there are more than 100 class members and the amount of the controversy is "in excess of $5 million." The complaint also sought an award for the class that includes "restitution and disgorgement of all profits unjustly retained by Sony."
While web commenters have largely seen the case as frivolous, internet reports in early April said some European PS3 consumers were able to receive partial refunds over the Other OS disablement from Amazon by citing European laws that state a product must "Be fit for the purpose which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of purchase."