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Sony facing lawsuit over 'monopoly' on digital PlayStation game sales

Sony facing lawsuit over 'monopoly' on digital PlayStation game sales

May 6, 2021 | By Alissa McAloon




A collection of gamers are readying to file a lawsuit against PlayStation-maker Sony Interactive Entertainment, arguing that it operates an unlawful monopoly by limiting where players can purchase digital copies of PlayStation games to only Sony storefronts.

According to Bloomberg, the group believes that Sony's monopoly on digital game sales allows it to "charge supracompetitive prices for digital PlayStation games, which are significantly higher than their physical counterparts sold in a competitive retail market."

The proposed class-action lawsuit suggests that a competitive retail market for digital games would likewise see more competitive (and consumer-friendly) prices, and argues that, under the current setup, PlayStation owners end up paying up to 175 percent more for digital games than they would for the same game on a physical disk.

The reason PlayStation is catching the blame here is because the company made a conscious effort to block third-party retailers from selling digital games outright back in 2019. That move prevents retailers like Amazon or Best Buy from selling straight codes for digital PlayStation games.

That still left retailers the option to instead sell pre-priced gift cards that can be purchased and redeemed for the same value in PlayStation store credit, but the price of those cards is static and doesn't change the same way video game prices do over time.

The class action is somewhat similar in spirit to the big Epic Games v. Apple case that finally saw the inside of a courtroom this week. While the two lawsuits are quite different, both take major companies to task over allegations that their actions have fostered an anti-competitive market. For that ongoing case, Epic alleges that Apple's tight hold on both the App Store is ultimately anti-consumer as the company doesn't allow third-party payment methods or app stores that might create a competitive market on iOS.

While PlayStation isn't directly involved in that case, a judge has warned that the result of Epic Games v. Apple could have "serious ramifications" for console makers as well.



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