Gaming

$5bn class action lawsuit against Sony accused of ‘fraud’ with British gamers

Is the abuse of dominance in the PlayStation Store causing the Sony group to unjustifiably raise the price of games for consumers? This is the issue raised by the collective action initiated across the English Channel against the Japanese console manufacturer.

Does Sony respect consumer rights in the UK? This is clearly the issue that activist Alex Neill (long associated with What UK in the United Kingdom, more or less equivalent to Que Choisir in France) intends to raise, who announces that she will initiate a class action lawsuit with the Competition Court of Appeal. , the UK competition court targeting the Japanese console maker. The action aims to showcase that Sony has been “ripping off” British gamers by inflating the prices of games in the PlayStation ecosystem, and the collective action should allow for £5bn in compensation.

More specifically, Alex Neil believes that Sony would benefit from a dominant position in the game video market, which is contrary to local competition law and allows it to impose unfair selling conditions on game developers and operators (in particular, by charging a 30% commission on transactions conducted in PlayStation Store). And these terms of sale imply a practice of inflated prices for British consumers. As a result, all UK gamers who have made purchases on the PlayStation Store since August 19, 2016 are strongly encouraged to join the class action in the hope of recovering damages – according to Alex Neal, each participant can expect compensation in the amount of 67 pounds. and £562. The operation is described in detail on a specially created site.

Does the action still have a chance of success? If the case is not closed, the judges will decide. In the meantime, we note that Sony is sharing the game video market with other players and that the prices set by the Japanese are not so different from the prices of the main competitors (starting with Microsoft, which is clearly not a targeted action). In addition, the 30% commission charged by Sony is also in line with the standard of commissions practiced on other platforms, consoles, PC or mobile devices. Similarly, even if this fee were to be reduced, it is not certain that this would result in lower prices for consumers (developers could also increase their margins). And we finally remember that a similar lawsuit initiated in the US was filed last July because it was found to be unfounded.
However, the fight against the dominance of the giants of new technologies is in the air. If the mobilization of British consumers is sufficient to resonate with the political forces of the country, British judges may also be sensitive to it, or even agree to listen to the arguments put forward by Alex Neil.

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