– Derek Allen, Attorney –
Microsoft is dropping its new console, the Xbox One, just in time for Christmas this year. The official unveiling occurred last month and reviews have been . . . mixed. The most controversial aspects of the console were requirements that the console be able to access the internet once every 24 hours and that every user of a video game pay for a license. The first was controversial because this requirement applied even if someone solely wanted to play single player, off-line games. Like today’s teenagers, the machine literally wouldn’t function without a constant internet connection. The second requirement was controversial because it made people pay for things they think should be free (or really cheap). If I want to borrow a friend’s game right now, he gives me the disk and I’m free to play it. The Xbox One (which, thanks to its Orwellian internet connection, would know whether I have a license for the game) would require me to buy a license to play my friend’s game, otherwise it wouldn’t work on my machine.
Predictably, fans of the current Xbox console threw a hissyfit and even the mighty Microsoft listened, changing both of these policies last week.
But while the power of the masses may have changed these policies, the same power isn’t going to work if you want to sue Microsoft over the Xbox One. According to the console’s purchase terms, a buyer can’t sue in the regular court system (arbitration is mandatory) and agrees to waive all rights to participate in a class action lawsuit. I come across arbitration clauses all the time and those are enforced as a general rule. I haven’t seen a “no class action” clause before, but my (usually wrong) gut feeling is that these are likely enforced too. So, on the off chance that your Xbox One does something that makes you want to sue Microsoft, you’re probably on your own.