Sony sued for ‘monopoly’ of PlayStation digital store


A PlayStation user is seeking class action status for a new lawsuit alleging that Sony has an illegal monopoly on digital game purchases on its platform. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday night in a California court. Lawyers say Sony’s 2019 decision to prevent PlayStation users from purchasing third-party download codes violates antitrust and unfair competition laws.

Bloomberg first reported the lawsuit Thursday morning.

Sony previously allowed players to purchase games via download codes from third-party retailers like GameStop and Amazon. But in 2019, after a leaked memo circulated online, Sony confirmed that the download codes were only purchasable through the PlayStation Store, and not through third-party retailers. These restrictions established the alleged “monopoly on the sale of digital PlayStation games,” according to the lawsuit.

Sony’s monopoly allows it to charge supercompetitive prices for digital PlayStation games, which are significantly higher than their physical counterparts sold in a competitive retail market, and significantly higher than they would be in a retail market. competitive for digital games, ”lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

Lawyers say popular games sell on average 75% more digitally on the PlayStation Store than those sold physically. That number could be up to 175% higher at its highest level, according to the lawsuit. Sony made $ 17 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021, from digital PlayStation games and other content purchased from the PlayStation Network, the company said in an earnings report; Lawyers said $ 7 billion could be due to overcharging through the alleged monopoly on downloads from PlayStation Store.

Polygon has reached out to Sony Interactive Entertainment for comment.

The lawsuit was filed as Apple and Epic Games continue to fight in court over alleged violations of Apple’s antitrust laws. Apple and Google deleted Fortnite of their respective markets in 2020 after Epic Games added its own in-game payment system, breaking app store rules. Epic then filed two lawsuits against Apple and Google, citing antitrust violations. Epic’s lawsuit against Apple is currently in court, which has revealed a lot of information about the notoriously secretive industry.

(Epic, for its part, is funded in part by Sony: Sony has invested $ 450 million in the Fortnite and Unreal Engine maker.)

For a long time, console users and developers have accepted these App Store restrictions and rules as industry standards. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, as companies like Epic go after Apple’s monolith – and now a group of PlayStation users are looking to take on Sony.

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