In a new video, broken PlayStation 4 consoles were stacked in a tower to raise awareness about an ongoing electronics issue: the right to repair. The fight for this right expands to everything from gaming consoles (like the PlayStation and Xbox) to smartphones. Even US President Joe Biden recently supported the right to repair, but it is important to note that this right already exists in one of the largest industries in the world: the automotive industry. There are laws in the United States that require automotive companies to make sure various parts are available to consumers, as well as instruction manuals on how everything works. This right gives consumers the freedom to make repairs to their vehicles themselves. But some major electronic companies still don’t work the same way, and even though the PlayStation 5’s functions were revealed by a patent recently, users still struggle to repair their own machines.
The right to repair is important for many reasons, like the fact that it helps prevent tons of perfectly functional products from sitting in a landfill. A major problem with many consoles and smartphones is that it is often much more lucrative for a company to encourage consumers to simply buy a new product than it is to sell parts and instructions on how to make the device last longer. Any console gamer will remember the Xbox 360 and the dreaded red ring of death, something that is now being mimicked by Xbox One’s black screen of death. This red ring was terrifying not only because it meant the Xbox wouldn’t work, but also because there was nothing the consumer could reasonably do about it, other than pack it in a box, send it away to Microsoft, and wait.
YouTube channel TronicsFix posted a video a few days ago seeing just how many broken PS4s could be stacked on top of each other. TronicsFix brought sixty-two broken PS4s to the film location, explaining that every one of these consoles could be fixed if the parts and the instructions were available to the average consumer. The tower manages to reach forty-two PS4s before an unfortunate gust of wind causes the consoles to come crashing down. Even without stacking all of the PS4s that were obtained, TronicsFix still claimed it might be a world record.
Between stacking more and more PS4s, the video also discusses the right to repair. TronicsFix points out that it was easy to replace and install a part of his tractor through the manufacturer, but impossible to do so with a PS4 without turning to independent online sources. The importance of the right to repair comes from the consumer’s ability to choose how to repair the products that they have purchased. Also, the right to repair could save time and money. Modifying consoles is a tricky situation; for instance, Valve discouraged opening the Steam Deck in a recent video, citing potential fires alongside the more traditional voiding of warranty, but many believe the benefits outweigh the potential costs.
Gaming consoles are hugely expensive products that are important to anyone who owns them, and it seems wrong to leave so much ownership still in the hands of huge companies like Microsoft and Sony. Hopefully, going forward, laws will be implemented that will allow consumers to be more informed about their consoles, and perhaps whatever the next red rings of death are won’t be quite as frightening as they once were, whether they appear on PlayStation or Xbox consoles.