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Sony hit with UK legal claim over "excessive and unfair" PlayStation Store pricing

The company is facing allegations that it "ripped off its consumers" by leveraging its dominant market position.

Sony is facing a legal challenge in the UK over the way it operates the PlayStation Store.

As spotted by the BBC, the company has been hit with allegations that it "ripped off its consumers" by using its position as a market leader to inflate the price of digital games and content on the PlayStation Store.

The legal claim is being led by consumer rights advocate Alex Neill, currently group chief executive of consumer tech organization The Resolver Group, and alleges that Sony breached competition law by imposing unfair terms on PlayStation developers and publishers -- such as a 30 percent commission on game sales -- and thereby driving up prices.

The group claim was filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which describes itself as a "specialist judicial body with cross-disciplinary expertise in law, economics, business and accountancy which hears and decides cases involving competition or economic regulatory issues."

"PlayStation You Owe Us"

Notably, the opt-out collective action regime that was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 means that anybody who used the PlayStation Store to purchase digital games or in-game content in the UK on their console from August 19, 2016, will automatically be included in the claim.

Neill is being advised by law film, Milberg London LLP, and has established a website called "PlayStation You Owe Us" to document proceedings and lay out their argument in five steps (as shown below).

Screenshot_2022-08-22_at_14.24.17.png

Adding more context, Neill suggested the shift from physical to digital sales and rising popularity of freemium mechanics like microtransactions "incentivise players to spend as much money as possible" and give platform owners like Sony even more power.

The claim is seeking up to £5 billion ($5.9 billion) in compensation for "8.9 million UK users of PlayStation," who Neill says "wouldn't stand a chance of getting redress" on their own.

"The game is up for Sony PlayStation. With this legal action I am standing up for the millions of UK people who have been unwittingly overcharged. We believe Sony has abused its position and ripped off its customers," added Neill.

"Gaming is now the biggest entertainment industry in the UK, ahead of TV, video and music and many vulnerable people rely on gaming for community and connection. The actions of Sony are costing millions of people who can’t afford it, particularly when we’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and the consumer purse is being squeezed like never before."

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