The latest Terms of Service for the PlayStation Network instilled an arbitration clause, which requires all users of the PSN to agree to settle all disputes via arbitration instead of a lawsuit. More specifically, they want to nip class-action lawsuits in the bud.
This set many a-gamer into a rage, even though many didn't quite understand that arbitration will help them more than a class-action suit ever will. Either way, we all know that gamers like to go into rages, and sure enough, a gamer has sued Sony over this arbitration clause.
According to GameSpot, the petition claims the following:
The suit alleges that Sony engaged in unfair business practices by forcing consumers to either give up their right to file a class-action lawsuit or give up access to the online gaming network they effectively paid for when they purchased the hardware.
The suit says Sony buried the clause section describing the changes near the bottom of a 21-page form viewable through the PS3 and neglected to post an easily accessible version of the form online, even though it had done so with past user agreement updates. While the suit notes that Sony allowed an opt out from the class-action provision, the only way for consumers to do that was to contact the company in writing (no emails, phone calls, or online forms accepted) within 30 days.
This suit will most likely go where the last class-action suit went: nowhere. Arbitration clauses are staple in practically every major business contract, because they not only cut down costs for everyone involved, but they also get resolved years faster than a traditional lawsuit in a courtroom and usually with fairer results than 12 jurors could ever hand down.
Either way, I have to wonder if Microsoft will be next, despite the fact that they did offer an opt-out with their newest Terms of Service. Gamers do seem to be sue-happy these days.