Sony accused of anti-competitive practices in UK courts, PlayStation digital policy under fire

Sony is being sued for alleged anti-competitive practices, including its digital sales policy that prohibits third-party PlayStation game sales.

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The UK's Competition Appeals Tribunal has denied Sony's request to strike down and eliminate an anti-competitive lawsuit. Now the appeals court wants more information from Sony before the courts decide what to do next.

Sony accused of anti-competitive practices in UK courts, PlayStation digital policy under fire 3233

Sony Interactive Entertainment is being sued in the UK. The $6 billion class-action lawsuit is on the behalf of 8.9 million UK gamers, and alleges that Sony has abused its position to negatively affect consumers.

Alex Neill, the lawyer representing consumers in this case, says that Sony has a "near monopoly" on digital game and content sales on PlayStation, and it uses this power to mandate "strict terms" that "allow Sony to set the price of digital games and in-game content" while charging a 30% fee for all games and DLC/microtransaction content sold on the PlayStation Store. Neill alleges that this practice leads to "excessive and unfair" prices for consumers.

Sony accused of anti-competitive practices in UK courts, PlayStation digital policy under fire 1

Sony instituted a digital policy in 2019 that prohibited the sale of PlayStation games at third-party retailers and storefronts, effectively locking digital PlayStation game purchases to Sony's digital marketplace.

Sony initially wanted this case to be thrown out, but the Competition Appeal Tribunal--the very same institution who oversaw the CMA case against the Microsoft-Activision merger--ruled that the case would continue. Sony didn't adequately rebut the claims and will now have a chance to defend against and reply to the allegations.

"We have concluded that, aside from the question of class definition, which we have dealt with as an eligibility point above, the applications by Sony for strike out/reverse summary judgment should be dismissed, given our conclusion that Sony has failed to establish that the PCR has no reasonable grounds for making the claims/no real prospect of succeeding at trial," the Tribunal wrote in its judgement.

Given the topics that the CAT has outlined, this case may deliver a boon of interesting information.

A preliminary list of the issues which the Tribunal is likely to explore is as follows:

  1. Market definition
  2. Systems competition/primary v aftermarket sales
  3. Two-sidedness
  4. Exclusive dealing/Tying/Bundling abuse
  5. Excessive pricing abuse
  6. Profit share v wholesale supply issues

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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