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PlayStation 3 Phat owners have a month left to claim ‘OtherOS’ class action settlement

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You could be leaving $65 on the table ...

ps3 rear
Alas, poor Phat. I knew him, Horatio.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Playstation 3 owners — and by this I mean owners of the phabulous Phat PlayStation 3 — have one month left to collect up to $65 as one of the longest and silliest controversies in the console’s history winds down.

The settlement was reached in October 2016, and originally PS3 owners were told to expect up to $55. That’s increased to $65 now, possibly because fewer claims than expected were submitted in the 18 months since.

This resolves, legally anyway, the removal of the so-called “OtherOS” feature from the PS3’s operating system eight years ago. That feature allowed users to partition their PS3’s hard drive and install Linux on it. You may remember that, before then, the console was pitched and even used as a computer, including by the Air Force (which created a supercomputer cluster out of more than 1,700 of the consoles) and in distributed computing applications such as Folding@home and SETI@home.

But in April 2010, Sony stripped out the OtherOS feature, citing security concerns, which pissed off a small but very vocal contingent of PS3 users. That led to the lawsuit, which alleged false advertising, breach of warranty and etc. Sony admits no wrongdoing, which is customary in civil settlements.

To make a claim, a PS3 Phat owner has to legally swear a bunch of stuff, including that the Phat was bought from an “authorized retailer,” (so, not from a friend, or an employer, as mine was); then that you knew you could install Linux on it, or lost some value when Sony pulled that option. You also need to provide your PSN username or your PS3’s serial number (the image above shows where that is located).

Again the eligible models are the 20 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB and 80 GB PlayStation 3’s, which seem so quaint by today’s standards. The total settlement is $3.75 million, basically pocket change for a company that size, so you can see why they chose to end this litigation instead of contest it. Five named plaintiffs will get $3,500, the attorneys will get up to $400,000, and the rest goes to people harmed by a video games console no longer being able to run an open-source operating system. The settlement page says claimants can receive up to $65; CNET estimates that about 30,000 claims would need to be filed to reach that distribution.

In October 2016, the settlement was announced with two classes of claimants, one due for just $9; a judge threw out that condition and made all claimants equal.

In any event, this is one of the further reaching and richer paying class action settlements to video game consumers of late. In 2012, Electronic Arts settled a class action suit brought in 2008 by people pissed off at the exclusive license the NFL gave to the Madden NFL series. That sent a bunch of payments to people who bought the Madden NFL, NCAA Football or Arena Football League (yes, there was actually a game for that) series. I expected $58.29 and got $64.14.