Sony PlayStation is subject to a first-of-its-kind lawsuit over alleged overcharging of its digital game purchase prices.
The proceedings have been brought as a collective action on behalf of all UK PlayStation consumers by Alex Neill. The claim is that Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Limited, Sony Interactive Entertainment Network Europe Limited, and Sony Interactive Entertainment UK Limited (collectively Sony) have been exploiting UK PlayStation consumers by overcharging for digital purchases for games and in-game content on the PlayStation Store. This is argued in conjunction with Sony’s dominant position in the UK and EU market, whereby Mrs Neill alleges that Sony has a near monopoly on the sale of PlayStation games and add-on content, and this enables Sony to enforce strict terms and conditions on game developers and publishers, much like has been alleged with respect to Apple. As such, Sony can charge a 30% commission on every purchase of digital games and in-game content from the PlayStation Store, which Mrs Neill believes, amounts to a breach of competition and consumer law. Moreover, the effects of this 30% commission trickle down to unfair prices for consumers
The team behind this lawsuit contends that UK consumers have been overcharged for their digital gaming purchases by as much as £5 billion over the past six years. According to the claim filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, anyone in the UK who purchased digital content from the PlayStation Store between 19 August 2016 to date is included in Mrs Neill’s claim and potentially entitled to compensation.
With the video game industry now overshadowing both the music and film industry, this lawsuit may set a crucial precedent for the regulation of market practices of dominant video game publishers.
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