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Sony fined by French regulators over third-party PS4 controllers

French regulators learned Sony spent nearly a decade "abusing its dominant position" for PlayStation 4 controllers and harming third-party manufacturers.

Justin Carter

January 2, 2024

1 Min Read
Logo for Sony's PlayStation console.
Image via Sony.

At a Glance

  • Third-party controller makers were allegedly hurt by Sony's selective licensing process and its PS4 countermeasures.

French antitrust regulator Autorité de la Concurrence has fined Sony €13.5 million (nearly $14.8 million) over its alleged restrictions for third-party PlayStation 4 controllers.

In its investigation, the regulator found Sony "abused its dominant position in the market." Since 2015, it had a PS4 countermeasure that made third-party controllers disconnect during console updates.

That investigation also revealed Sony "refused to communicate" with those looking to join its licensing program. Sony allegedly didn't reveal its terms and criteria when asked by third-party controller makers.

Said criteria was applied "in a discretionary manner, even though access to the program was the only way to avoid disconnections."

Both practices "significantly damaged the brand image of the third-party manufacturers affected," wrote Autorité. And by doing so, Sony "slowed down their expansion in the market and [lead] to their possible foreclosure."

Companies are cracking down on unofficial controllers

Third-party controllers are important to consoles, if only because not everyone can afford an official controller that's $70 (or more). For plenty of players, those are the best options available to them.

Last year, Sony released the $200 DualSense Edge and the $90 Access controller. The latter was made with accessibility in mind, similar to Xbox's Adaptive Controller.

Last year, Microsoft released an update for the Xbox Series X|S that blocked unofficial third-party controllers. The aim was to prevent unfair play advantages, which would be key in fight or flight games.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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