Sony has been overcharging PlayStation gamers for six years, a new legal claim alleges, and could be forced to pay nearly £5bn in damages if the claim is successful.
According to Alex Neill, the consumer advocate who brought the case to the UK Competition Court of Appeal, Sony has been abusing its dominance of the UK market to impose unfair terms and conditions on the PlayStation Store, where it sells digital games, downloadable content and subscriptions
The company charges a flat 30% fee to developers who want to sell games on the store, which often makes prices for digital content higher than a physical copy of the same title, despite the associated manufacturing costs. and shipment of the hardware.
Neill has brought the lawsuit, which uses a UK right to collective redress for consumer damages, on behalf of anyone in the UK who has purchased digital games or additional content from the store since August 19, 2016. He is seeking damages. and damages of between £67 and £562 per individual member, which could take the total sum paid up to £5 billion if successful.
“The game is ready for Sony PlayStation,” said Neill. “With this legal action, I am standing up for the millions of people in the UK who have been unknowingly overcharged. We believe that Sony abused its position and defrauded its customers.
“Gaming is now the UK’s largest entertainment industry, ahead of TV, video and music, and many vulnerable people rely on games for community and connection. Sony’s actions are costing millions of people who can’t afford it, particularly when we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis and the consumer’s pocketbook is being squeezed like never before.”
Natasha Pearman, who is leading the case for the Milberg London solicitors, said: “Sony dominates the digital distribution of PlayStation games and game content. It has deployed an anti-competitive strategy that has resulted in excessive prices for customers that are out of all proportion to Sony’s costs of providing its services.
“This claim is only possible due to the exclusionary class action regime that was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act of 2015; a regimen Alex fought to introduce. We look forward to working with Alex and ensuring that the regime achieves its goals of protecting and compensating consumers.”
The case is backed by Woodsford, an investment firm that provides funds for legal cases in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Steven Friel, the company’s chief executive, said it “is dedicated to holding great companies to account when corporate wrongdoing causes losses to consumers and other stakeholders.”
Woodsford also backed the British class action lawsuit against rail companies accused of overcharging and shipping agencies accused of inflating the cost of importing cars, Friel added.
Sony did not respond to requests for comment.