Ever buy an original PS3? Sony may owe you $65

Sony's "OtherOS" class-action settlement could mean money in your pocket.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
3 min read

Three generations of PlayStation 3. Only the original "fat" model at left is eligible.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

Remember when Sony said your PlayStation 3 would be a "computer," not just a game console? Remember when Sony backed up that claim by letting anyone (including the US Air Force) install Linux on the thing? Remember when Sony broke its promises by unceremoniously deleting that "OtherOS" feature with a firmware update?

If so, you may have just earned up to $65 -- and you've got exactly one month to claim your money.

Nearly eight years after Sony removing the option to install Linux on the PS3, allegedly for security reasons, a US court all but approved a settlement in a class-action lawsuit this past December. 

Sony has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle the suit. The lawyers get a third of that, the five plaintiffs will see up to $3,500 each, and the settlement organizers will get an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 too -- but that's still easily a couple million bucks left over to pay back PS3 owners like you.

How to submit your claim

Where do you begin? If you purchased an original "Fat" PS3 between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010 at an "authorized retailer" in the US -- so not Craiglist, where I bought mine -- you're eligible to receive up to $65 for each original PS3 you bought. You can submit multiple claims if you bought more than one. Here's the claim form you'll need. The deadline is April 15, 2018.

Oh, but there's one more wrinkle: You'll need to legally swear you knew it was possible to install Linux on the PS3 and/or lost some of the value of your PS3 when Sony removed the option.

You'll also need your PS3's serial number, or your PlayStation Network username or sign-in ID, and you may need to tell the settlement authorities when and where you purchased your console.

For easy reference, eligible PS3s should include the original 20GB, 60GB and later 40GB and 80GB models, but not the PS3 Slim or PS3 Super Slim. Here's another picture to help you identify the right model:


You're looking for the glossy one on the left.

Sarah Tew/CNET

And here's where the serial number is located:


Didn't Sony sell millions of these, though? Will I actually see cash?

It's a good question, and that's why the "OtherOS Settlement" is only promising up to $65 per claim.

Technically, the lawyers attest Sony sold as many as 10 million "Fat" PS3s in the United States, which means if every single buyer submitted a claim, they'd be getting less than a dollar each. But that's not super likely. They'd need to care about OtherOS, remember when and where they bought the console, have never sold it or traded it in, find out about the settlement in time, and actually submit the form promptly.

If only around 30,000 people submit a claim, according to my rough math, they could probably each receive the full $65. 

Some 11,300 early claims had already been submitted as of last September, according to court documents.

What if I think this isn't fair?

If you want to protest, or retain the ability to sue Sony yourself, you can do those things too -- but you'll need to do them quickly. You'll find instructions right here

That protest probably won't fall on deaf ears, by the way: Sony originally agreed to pay just $55 per PS3 -- and only to those who actually used Linux on their console. Those who bought the PS3 merely with "OtherOS" functionality in mind were slated to get a paltry $9 each. But a judge rejected that settlement in the belief that it didn't do enough to compensate buyers.