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Nintendo, Sony say you can repair game consoles without voiding warranty

The FTC called them out. Will Microsoft be next?


Nintendo's latest game console is the Nintendo Switch.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

In April, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called out a handful of companies -- including Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft -- for illegally voiding people's warranties when they tried to repair their game consoles and electronics themselves. 

Previously, taking your Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4 into a third-party shop for repairs could void the official warranty, but now the two companies have changed their warranty terms in the US and Canada to comply with the FTC's demands. So now you may not have to think twice before getting your console fixed.

Sony originally said that a product's warranty would be voided if used with an unlicensed peripheral or if the warranty sticker has been altered or removed. The new Sony policy now reads that the warranty is voided if "damage [is] caused by" doing these things, requiring that extra condition of damage to make the warranty invalid.

Nintendo's new warranty terms took a similar approach, saying that the warranty is void if the product is damaged or the software is intentionally modded -- which actually appears to be a new limitation for Nintendo. (You can see for yourself using the Wayback Machine.) Before, tampering of any sort would void the warranty.

Nintendo didn't comment on what appears to be the additional software modding clause, but provided CNET the following statement:  

Nintendo builds high quality products, while also striving to exceed expectations when supporting our customers. We continuously review and refine our support policies to ensure they embody that commitment. As part of that effort, we have updated our warranty text to clarify that Nintendo provides warranty service for defects not caused by the user or by other unauthorized acts.

The Washington Post was the first to report Nintendo's new policy.

Sony provided this statement to CNET as well: 

SIEA has updated the warranties for PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita systems sold in the U.S. and Canada. These changes align with our ongoing mission to deliver the best possible consumer experience.

The new warranty provides more clarity and broadens the applicability of warranty coverage. For example, warranty coverage now applies unless damage has been caused by use of unlicensed peripherals or by the product being opened. Also, while we previously offered free shipping both ways for in-warranty product service, we've added this information to the updated warranty to highlight this benefit for PlayStation purchasers.

The FTC note also called out Microsoft for similar practices. CNET reached out to Microsoft to see how it'll respond, and we'll update as we hear back.