Sony is facing a lawsuit that seeks class-action status over claims that it created ‘its own monopoly on digital PlayStation content,’ allowing it to allegedly overcharge on digital games. At the heart of the issue is a change Sony made to how PlayStation consoles owners can purchase digital games, eliminating the third-party digital code option and instead requiring a direct purchase through the PS Store.
The lawsuit titled ‘Cendejas v. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC’ was filed on May 7 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm. The suit claims to represent a proposed class of more than a million US PlayStation owners who it alleges were “overcharged billions of dollars” on digital games through the PS Store.
At the heart of the lawsuit is Sony’s decision to prevent PlayStation console owners from buying digital game download codes through third-party retailers like Amazon and Target. Sony confirmed this change in 2019, effectively forcing PlayStation owners to only get digital games through the PS Store.
Though physical game discs remain an option, the lawsuit goes on to point out that consumers who purchase the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition can only buy digital games as the console lacks an optical drive. The allegations include a claim that three popular (unnamed) games available for the PS5 were more expensive as digital downloads on the PS Store compared to the physical discs sold by retailers.
By limiting the options users have, Sony effectively foreclosed all retail price competition on PlayStation games, creating its own monopoly on digital PlayStation content and thereby allowing Sony to charge inflated prices for these games. Consumers, limited to a single source for purchasing any digital PlayStation content, are forced to pay a higher price for digital PlayStation games than they would in a free and unrestrained competitive retail market.
Sony hasn’t commented on the allegations at this time.