In an effort to enhance the security on pre-Slim PlayStation 3 models, Sony removed one of the system's most versatile features, Other OS, as part of firmware v3.21 in April. With the feature, tech-savvy gamers could install the Linux operating system on the PS3, effectively turning the gaming console into a desktop computer.
Sony's decision has not been looked upon kindly by many Other OS proponents, and the move has already sparked one lawsuit seeking class-action status. Now, two other lawsuits have been leveled at Sony over its removal of the feature, and both are seeking to be elevated to class-action complaints.
The first suit, filed on April 30 in the US District Court of Northern California, notes that Sony engaged in a protracted advertisement campaign promoting the PS3's ability to install Linux by way of the Other OS feature. "Each plaintiff purchased a PS3 with the justified expectation that Sony would continue to support the Other OS function and other features and would not deliberately cripple those functions," the suit notes.
Notably, firmware update v3.21 is optional. However, those who opt out of the update will not be able to play new PS3 games, access the PlayStation Network, or play Blu-ray movies that use a BD Live online connection. The first new suit points out that PS3 owners are forced to choose between the Other OS function and other features that they had paid for. Forcing gamers' hands in such a fashion, the suit claims, is a breach of contract.
The complaint also claims that Sony violated California's Unfair Competition Law by advertising features that were subsequently removed. The suit seeks to be classified as a class-action complaint, as well as be awarded damages, restitution of moneys paid for the system, court costs, and other relief deemed suitable by the court.
The second suit largely echoes the first. Filed on May 5 in the SU District Court of Northern California, the complaint points out that after advertising the Other OS feature, Sony gave gamers a "Hobson's Choice, or a 'choice' between two equally undesirable alternatives: Users would either lose the ability to use other operating systems, an advertised and important feature, or lose the ability to access online, Blu-ray, and gaming features."
"On one hand," the suit continues, "installing firmware 3.21 renders the PS3 inoperable for its use as a computer; on the other hand, failure to install firmware 3.21 basically renders a user's PS3 inoperable for its intended purpose as a gaming and Blu-ray Disc console."
As a result, the suit contends that Sony violated breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, false advertising, and other laws. As with the other two suits, the second complaint seeks class-action status, damages, restitution, court costs, and other relief.