Sony PlayStation is being sued for £5 billion by nine million claimants amid accusations it “ripped people off” with overpriced games and in-game purchases.
The legal claim is a collective action against the gaming company, brought by consumer rights champion Alex Neill. It accuses the company of 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.
It allegedly “ripped people off” by charging a 30% commission on every digital game and in-game purchase made through the PlayStation Store.
Consumers have been overcharged for their digital gaming purchases by as much as £5 billion over the last six years, the legal action states.
According to the claim filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Friday, 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.
The estimated damages per individual member of the class is between £67 and £562 excluding interest.
“The game is up for Sony PlayStation,” said Ms 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.
“Gaming is now the biggest entertainment industry in the UK, ahead of TV, video and music and many vulnerable people rely on gaming for community and connection. The actions of Sony is costing millions of people who can’t afford it, particularly when we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and the consumer purse is being squeezed like never before.”
Alex Neill is advised by law firm, Milberg London LLP.
The partner leading the case, Natasha Pearman, said: “Sony dominates the digital distribution of PlayStation games and in-game content; it has deployed an anti-competitive strategy which has resulted in excessive prices to customers that are out of all proportion to the costs of Sony providing its services.
This claim is only possible because of the opt-out collective action regime that was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015; a regime which Alex fought to introduce. We are looking forward to working with Alex and making sure that the regime achieves its aims of protecting and compensating consumers.”
The action is funded by Woodsford – a specialist team of litigation and arbitration experts investing in large commercial claims – so class members will not have to pay any of the costs of the action themselves.
PlayStation has been contacted for comment.