Sony sued over PlayStation’s digital store ‘monopoly’

A PlayStation user is looking for class-action status for a brand-new claim that declares Sony has a prohibited monopoly over digital video game purchases on its platform. The claim was submitted Wednesday night in a California court. Attorneys declare that Sony’s 2019 choice to stop PlayStation users from purchasing third-party download codes is breaching antitrust and unreasonable competitors laws.

Bloomberg initially reported the claim on Thursday early morning.

Sony formerly permitted gamers to acquire video games by means of download codes from third-party merchants like GameStop and Amazon. However in 2019, after a dripped memo distributed online, Sony validated that download codes were just buyable by means of the PlayStation Shop, not third-party merchants. Those restrictions established the alleged “monopoly over the sale of digital PlayStation games,” according to the lawsuit.

“Sony’s monopoly allows it to charge supracompetitive 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 competitive retail market for digital games,” lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

Lawyers claim that popular games sell for, on average, 75% more digitally on the PlayStation Store than those sold physically. That number could be up to 175% more at its highest, according to the lawsuit. Sony made $17 billion in revenue over the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2021, from digital PlayStation games and other content purchased on the PlayStation Network, the company said in an earning report; lawyers said $7 billion of that may be due to overcharging by means of the alleged monopoly on downloads from the PlayStation Shop.

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 Apple’s alleged antitrust violations. Both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their respective marketplaces in 2020 after Epic Games added its own payment system to the game — breaking the app stores’ rules. Epic then filed two lawsuits, against Apple and Google, citing antitrust violations. Epic’s lawsuit against Apple is currently playing out in court, which has revealed lots of information about the notoriously secretive industry.

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

For a long time, console users and developers accepted these app store constraints and rules as industry norms. That appears to no longer be the case, as companies like Impressive take on the monolith of Apple — and now, a group of PlayStation users seeks to take on Sony.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long included to this report.