Sony Faces Huge Billion-Dollar Lawsuit Over PlayStation Store Prices
Sony and the PlayStation store might be in a bit of trouble, as it has been announced a new billion-dollar lawsuit has started over charging far too much for games.
Sony has long been criticized by the gaming community for dedicating its resources to massively successful gaming franchises at the expense of smaller but equally beautiful gaming titles, and many have said that the company’s greed knows no bounds. While we can attest to the former, but not the latter, there are those who can — a consumer rights advocacy group is suing Sony for charging a 30% commission fee on all digital purchases made through the UK Sony PlayStation Store.
According to IGN, the base for legal action against Sony is the fact that the company, as the primary and dominant seller of digital Sony PlayStation Store products, is in a position to overcharge for the products it sells. The lawsuit, filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on August 19, claims that Sony has been doing exactly that by forcing the consumers to overspend unfairly, and is this in breach of competition law. In addition, the consumer rights advocacy group claims that Sony has deployed anti-competitive strategies, most of which are to the financial detriment of the consumers.
More specifically, such strategies have resulted in excessive prices on the Sony PlayStation Store, which are severely disproportionate to the costs of Sony providing such services. The basic argument in the lawsuit is that the company has a near-monopoly on the sale of video games through its digital storefront, and, as such, it shouldn’t be using its position to enforce a 30% commission on the sale of digital content.
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a gray area, as nearly all gaming and tech giants enforce a 30% take on their digital storefronts, with a notable exception of Epic Games Store — quite an interesting tale which will mention later. For now, we’ll have to wait until the courts determine whether the Sony PlayStation Store ecosystem is a monopoly or not and whether this lawsuit could potentially affect other digital storefronts, like app stores and Valve’s Steam — the biggest name in digital distribution right now.
The estimated damages per individual, spread over the last six years, range from approximately $80 to approx. $670 — please note that these are approximate prices as the original pricing was listed in pounds sterling. Excluding interest, this number amasses to $5.9 billion. That’s four times more than what the entire Spider-Man Homecoming trilogy earned at the box office. The last major lawsuit against a 30% commission was filed by Epic Games against Apple after Apple removed Fortnite from its App Store.
Admittedly, Epic tried to circumvent Apple by implementing its own payment method for in-game MTXs, which prompted Apple’s removal of Fortnite in the first place. However, the court ruled that Apple couldn’t force microtransactions to go through App Store, directing the company to offer alternate payment methods. This ruling also set Apple back some $85 billion — making Sony PlayStation Store’s $5.9 billion minuscule in comparison.
But it’s also worth noting that Epic Game drew a shorter end of the stick when it came to their lawsuit against Apple since the court ruled in Apple’s favor over Epic’s breach of contract, requiring the company to pay Apple $6 million. So, how knows how the lawsuit against Sony PlayStation Store will play out; companies as big as Sony usually have good lawyers and aren’t short on lobbyists.