A few days after the announcement of a complaint against Sony, we learned that the case was approved to proceed, which is not conducive to PlayStation’s affairs. A class action lawsuit is currently forming in the United Kingdom against the PlayStation Store’s business practices. The reason is the 30% commission on all purchases in the online shop, which many players don’t like.
Now Sony is facing a lawsuit that could force the company to refund 9 million users. amounting to $7.9 billion (7.2 billion euros). This is not the first time that a digital video game retailer has made this type of criticism, but this particular case could change the situation in the long term… or change nothing at all for consumers.
Millions of British gamers are affected
The complaint filed by Alex Neill states: The 30% commission collected by Sony inevitably increases the price of the games which can be purchased from the PlayStation Store. The complainant therefore states that the company charges much more for its securities than they would be worth without this commission. He accuses Sony of “abusing its dominant market position” because it is practically the only online shop approved for PlayStation consoles.
This is exactly the same problem that Epic Games raised against Apple a few years ago. At the time, the court ruled that this was not an anti-competitive practice, but rather that Apple would have to authorize third-party stores on its iPhones in the coming years in order to avoid burdening users with its high commissions. That’s not exactly what Alex Neill is asking.
He doesn’t simply propose a reduction in the PlayStation commission, but calls for a price reduction for digital games on the PlayStation Store. He is also calling for compensation for cheated players, 9 million people, who could claim between £67 and £562 each, bringing the total to £5 billion. In this case the compensation only covers UK players, but if it works the claim could easily be exported to all other regions of the world.
An industry-wide change?
At the end of the lawsuit filed against Sony, the company risks paying the amount plus interest. However, changing the industry will not be that easy. In fact, nothing justifies reducing the price of games on the PlayStation Store knowing that other platforms charge lower commissions and sell them at the same price. This is the case of the Microsoft Store or Epic Games Store, whose commission is 12% and pays 88% of the price to the developer and publisher.
Currently there is no law that regulates this variable tariff from one store to another, although the standard is more based on the 30% offered by Sony, Google or even Apple. However, if this were to be regulated and corrected downwards for the reseller part, the money mentioned as damage would logically not have to be paid out to the players. We imagine the developers could be paid damages instead if they ever request this.
The commission does not explain the price of the games
Currently, the class action lawsuit is not deterring Sony, the company says it is “full of errors.” However, The question of dividing game prices remains legitimate throughout the industry. Few developers consider 30% to be a fair share, which is why the trend is slowly but surely reversing in their direction. However, this does not explain the price of video game titles today.
Games require more and more technological resources but also manpower to achieve the known result, even for a digital version that does not involve the production of a disc, transportation, etc. It is a leisure activity that has never been “cheap” and, given current inflation, price increases have been limited for the last generation. For manufacturers, the situation takes on another dimension. They very often sell their consoles at a loss or at cost and therefore rely on selling games to make a profit and continue to invest in their next projects.
Therefore, although the complaint attracted attention, it could fail. More targeted regulation of revenue distribution would always be a good idea, especially if it leads to better compensation for developers or a larger selection of online shops across all platforms.