Microsoft requires Xbox drift lawsuit for arbitration

Microsoft retrospectively changed its warranty to keep this lawsuit out of court.

Microsoft has requested that a lawsuit over issues with its Xbox controllers be brought to trial and arbitrated.

The lawsuit, filed in April 2020, claims that Xbox controllers suffer from “drift” with regular use. In other words, controllers can issue incorrect commands due to expected wear and tear.

The “drift” phenomenon, according to the Video Games Chronicle, has been observed with all controller models and configurations.

In their complaint, plaintiffs said Microsoft is aware that its controllers may have time-related deficiencies but failed to warn consumers of the possible consequences. Several players joined the lawsuit in October demanding a speedy trial.

Meanwhile, however, Microsoft has asked the court to consider whether a lawsuit is necessary or legal. According to Microsoft, most Xbox users are forced to go to arbitration because they electronically signed or otherwise agreed to the company’s service agreement when they purchased their game consoles or controllers.

Arbitration, adds The Video Games Chronicle, would force plaintiffs to drop the litigation. Your case would then be presented to a supposedly impartial arbitrator whose decision would be final and legally binding.

While arbitration is often positioned as an “impartial” process that allows companies to resolve disputes outside of the courts, jurors are notoriously biased against corporate defendants. This is because arbitration rules tend to favor the same companies that coordinate the legal process. And although plaintiffs have been deprived of many of their rights in a government court, complainants still often have to hire a lawyer to fight on their behalf.

Legal gavel and books; Image courtesy of
Juice via Pixabay,

Arbitration also prohibits class action complaints. This means that consumers who may have suffered a small financial loss, such as For example, a defective Xbox controller would have to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to resolve a complaint that resulted in a relatively small loss. Traditional class actions, on the other hand, allow claimants who have lost individual small sums of money to band together for a greater reward and less personal risk.

However, according to Microsoft, the service agreement means gamers won’t be able to take their case to court – despite the fact that relatively few are likely to even read through terms and conditions.

“The plaintiffs have repeatedly agreed not to bring such a lawsuit to court,” said Microsoft.

“Instead, they agreed to the Microsoft Services Agreement (‘MSA’) and warranty agreements, in which they promise to mediate before the American Arbitration Association (‘AAA’) on an individual basis according to a consumer-friendly process,” Microsoft said in a lawsuit. “The Federal Arbitration Law requires the enforcement of these agreements.”

The Chronicle and several other sources note that Microsoft retrospectively extended the warranty on some controllers affected by drift after plaintiffs filed their class action lawsuit.

Unfortunately, a precedent might be on Microsoft’s side – in another drift case brought against Nintendo, the class was forced into arbitration after the judge approved the company’s arguments.


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