Scorned PS3 Owner Demands Refund for "Other OS" Install, Amazon Obliges (Kind of)

As sincere as Sony can apparently be, the console maker has an issued an apology to gamers worldwide who might be upset at the removal of the "Install Other OS" option from their PlayStation 3. For a select few, the touted ability to install an alternative OS was a huge selling point in the PS3's favor, so we can understand why Linux fans aren't real thrilled at Sony's decision to strip away this feature.

"We are sorry if users of Linux or other operating systems are disappointed by our decision to issue a firmware upgrade which when installed disables this operating system feature," Sony said in a statement. "We have made the decision to protect the integrity of the console and whilst mindful of the impact on Linux or other operating system user we nevertheless felt it would be in the best interests of the majority of users to pursue this course of action."

Sealing the deal as a half-hearted apology, Sony goes on to remind users they have a choice whether or not to install the firmware upgrade, which was "clearly explained to them" when the firmware was made available. "Furthermore our terms and conditions clearly state that we have the right to revise the PS3's settings and features in order to prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content."

Despite Sony's 'apology,' the situation might not be as clear as the company thinks. According to fan site PlayStation University, Amazon has issued a partial refund to at least one European PS3 owner who complained about the new firmware. As the story goes, NeoGAF forum moderator "iapetus" cited European law to argue that his 60GB console no longer operated as advertised. The law in question -- Directive 1999/44/EC -- states, among other things, that the goods must:

  • comply with the description given by the seller and possess the same qualities and characteristics as other similar goods
  • be fit for the purpose which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of purchase
It's that second bit that might have Sony in hot water, at least in Europe. If we roll back the clock, Sony had previously made it known that you could install an "Other OS," and this is what iapetus argued. Amazon apparently agreed and reportedly issued a refund equivalent to 20 percent of the console's value, which was already out of warranty and well past the online retailer's 30-day guarantee. Should other PS3 owners also demand a refund, we could see Amazon trying to pass the cost over to Sony.

So what does this mean for Sony? Maybe nothing more than a little posturing (see apology above), but the company will probably find itself at the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit. Should that happen, Sony will likely argue that they have every right to change the software/firmware to protect intellectual property, as outlined in the PS3's terms and conditions.