The latest PlayStation lawsuit is demanding Sony pay back every UK customer who’s spent money on the PS Store over the last six years.
We’ve already seen disgruntled PlayStation customers file lawsuits against Sony for defective hardware and such. However, they’ve only ever represented a small subset of customers.
The newest lawsuit goes beyond that and, if successful, could see you – yes, you – receiving money from Sony in damages.
This is because the lawsuit believes that Sony has been overcharging PlayStation customers in the UK for digital purchases, be they games or DLC, since 2016.
It argues that by charging a 30% commission on every digital purchase made on the PlayStation Store, Sony is imposing unfair terms and conditions on developers and other publishers, as well as forcing up prices and ‘ripping off’ customers.
In total, it’s claimed that Sony owes nearly 9 million customers as much as £5 billion, collectively. If the suit is successful, then Sony would need to pay back every one of those customers anywhere from £67 to £562 in damages, excluding interest.
What makes this suit unique is that it represents anybody who has made at least one purchase from the PlayStation Store since August 19, 2016. There’s no form you need to sign or anything; you’re automatically included and thus entitled to compensation.
That said, the suit will be providing people the option to be excluded from it, with the caveat that you won’t then receive any money back if Sony is found guilty.
The claim has already been filed to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, with consumer rights expert Alex Neill spearheading it and serving as the class representative. Law firm Milberg London will be acting as the solicitors.
‘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,’ says 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.’
Natasha Pearman, who is leading the team of lawyers, adds: ‘Sony dominates the digital distribution of PlayStation games and in-game content; it has deployed an anti-competitive strategy which has resulted in excessive prices to customers that are out of all proportion to the costs of Sony providing its services.
‘This claim is only possible because of the opt-out collective action regime that was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015; a regime which Alex fought to introduce. We are looking forward to working with Alex and making sure that the regime achieves its aims of protecting and compensating consumers.’
A website and FAQ have been put together to explain all the intricacies of the case, as well as assure everyone that PlayStation customers won’t need to foot the bill or face any ramifications if the suit is unsuccessful.
On a surface level, it all sounds very appealing for PlayStation customers but, so far, all it aims to do is get money back for customers. There’s no mention of whether it also wants Sony to change its terms and conditions, be it by reducing the commission fee or stripping it altogether.
We’ve also very rarely seen these sorts of lawsuits actually impact companies like Sony. Only last month, according to Bloomberg Law, another suit accusing Sony of violating anti-competition laws through its control of the PlayStation Store was thrown out of a US court.
Despite the scope of the lawsuit it does seem very naïve, almost frivolous, given Sony’s 30% cut is an industry standard and the same on Steam and Xbox – with only Epic Games Store making a big fuss about dropping its percentage to 12%.
Assuming Sony doesn’t try and resolve the whole matter behind closed doors, and is taken to court over it, we might never see a proper resolution for several years.
If Sony does settle outside of court, the FAQ says that any money received will be distributed among affected customers.
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