UK: PlayStation class action lawsuit seeks up to £5bn in damages
A legal claim has been brought against Sony PlayStation seeking up to £5 billion in damages for consumers in the UK.
The claim is a collective action against Sony and its PlayStation brand, brought by consumer rights expert Alex Neill, which argues that the games console giant breached competition law by unlawfully overcharging PlayStation customers.
It alleges Sony abused its market dominant position to impose unfair terms and conditions on PlayStation game developers and publishers, which results in excessive and unfair prices for consumers every time they buy digital games or in-game content from the PlayStation Store.
As a result, UK consumers have allegedly been overcharged for their digital gaming purchases by potentially as much as £5bn over the last six years.
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.
Ms Neill commented: “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 are 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.”
Natasha Pearman, Milberg London’s partner leading the case, commented: “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 - an ESG, access to justice and litigation finance business - so class members are not liable for any of the costs of the legal action.
Charlie Morris, chief investment officer for Woodsford, commented: “Woodsford is proud to be funding Alex Neill and we are determined to help her hold Sony to account for its anti-competitive behaviour.
“Litigation finance of the kind provided by Woodsford is fundamental to these actions; it levels the playing field, provides consumers with equality of arms and affords access to justice so that big businesses like Sony cannot take advantage of consumers in this manner without consequence.”
Robert Palmer QC and Fiona Banks of Monckton Chambers act for Alex Neill, instructed by Milberg.