£5bn legal claim accuses PlayStation of ‘ripping people off’ by charging a 30% commission on digital game and in-game purchases. Sign up to stay updated.
Consumer rights expert Alex Neill accuses Sony PlayStation of ‘ripping people off’ by charging a 30% commission on every digital game and in-game purchase made through the PlayStation Store. A complaint was lodged by Neill on behalf of the 8.9 million affected UK consumers at the Competition Appeal Tribunal on 19 August 2022.
Sony is accused of being in breach of competition law by abusing its market power to impose unfair terms and conditions on game developers and publishers, forcing up prices for consumers. Sign up to stay updated.
‘The game is up for Sony PlayStation,’ commented Neill. ‘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.’
The game is up for Sony
The complaint could be worth up to £5bn and the estimated damages per person are between £67 and £562. Anyone in the UK who has purchased digital games or add-on content on their console or via the PlayStation Store since 19 August 2016 is included in the claim and is potentially entitled to compensation. Sign up for progress updates.
Gaming is big business
The communications watchdog Ofcom says that more than 60% of UK adults regularly play a game across either a console or their mobile device. ParentZone, a parent group who are experts in family life, said a staggering 93% of UK 10-16-year-olds play online games regularly. They have raised concerns about children feeling under pressure to make in-game purchases, with almost half believing that video games are only fun when you spend money.
The rise of in-app purchasing and digital content being made available in games has been a big development in the gaming industry. Some of the most popular games are free to play but rely on in-game purchasing to make vast sums of money.
Neill believes companies like Sony need to be urgently held to account to protect consumers from further harm. ‘The drive towards in-game purchases allows companies like Sony to profiteer and abuse their power because they have a captive audience. Sony knows its customers are hooked once they are part of the PlayStation world and it exploits them with exorbitant charges on every digital purchase.’
Who is eligible for compensation?
Neill is asking the Court to approve her to act on behalf of affected Playstation customers. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you’re automatically included in this claim as it’s being brought on an opt out basis.
If you live in the UK and owned or still own a PS4 or 5 from August 2016 to today and have bought digital games or purchased in-game content you are automatically eligible. This means that you do not actively have to opt into the claim to get compensation.
Who is paying for this claim?
This claim is being funded by the litigation funder Woodsfood. This means that affected customers will not have to pay anything to participate in the claim, even if it is lost.
Woodsfood also covers the costs associated with legal representation, including law firm Milberg and Robert Palmer QC and Fiona Banks of Monckton Chambers, who act for Alex Neill, instructed by Milberg. Neill is a consumer rights expert, co-founder of Consumer Voice and spent more than a decade at Which? leading consumer campaigns and achieving change for UK consumers.
8.9m Playstation customers may have overpaid for games or in-app purchases and be owed hundreds of pounds in compensation. Sign up here for more information.
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