Sony must face a mass lawsuit worth up to $7.9 billion over claims the PlayStation maker abused its dominant position, leading to unfair customer prices, a London tribunal ruled on Tuesday. The lawsuit was launched last year for nearly 9 million people in the United Kingdom who had bought digital games or add-on content through Sony’s PlayStation Store. This platform imposes a hefty 30% commission on developers and publishers. Consumer advocate Alex Neill, who spearheaded the suit, claimed that Sony’s exclusivity policy forced consumers to pay more than they would have in a competitive market.
The tribunal ruled that if Neill’s case is successful, it could result in a total of up to 5 billion pounds in damages plus interest. That means that the average PlayStation user can claim hundreds in compensation. Reuters reports that the decision has been welcomed by some and is seen as an essential step towards holding tech giants accountable for their business practices. “It is an important first step in holding tech giants to account for anti-competitive conduct and ensuring that they are not misusing their dominant position,” says consumer lawyer Oliver Richardson.
SIE vehemently contested the claims, labeling the lawsuit “flawed from start to finish.” Nevertheless, the Competition Appeal Tribunal allowed Neill’s case to go forward. However, it did specify that anyone who made PlayStation Store purchases after the suit was filed in 2022 should be excluded from the proposed claimant class.
Although the case will be a long road to recovery, it isn’t the first time Sony has faced such accusations in gaming. The company has been accused of abusing its power, notably over its decision to require users to purchase the PlayStation Plus service to enjoy multiplayer online games on the console. The lawsuit also highlights growing concerns over the dominance of large platforms in the digital marketplace, with some consumers worrying that monopolistic companies may be driving up prices.
Kotaku contacted Sony for comment on the ruling but didn’t receive a response by publication time. It needs to be clarified if the company will appeal the verdict.
In the wake of the Fortnite lawsuit against Apple, it’s clear that consumers are taking a more aggressive approach to filing class-action suits against the tech industry’s most prominent players.