Sony to face £6 billion UK lawsuit for allegedly overcharging PlayStation customers

 (PlayStation You Owe Us)
(PlayStation You Owe Us)

Sony is set to battle a potential £6 billion lawsuit, which alleges the gaming giant overcharged UK consumers for PlayStation Store items using its dominant position in the market.

Sony attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, which was first filed in August 2022 with the company’s lawyers, describing it as "flawed from start to finish", but the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal has now blocked these attempts.

The lawsuit alleges that Sony’s practice of requiring all digital games and add-ons to be purchased exclusively via the PlayStation Store is unfair.

Consumers currently pay a surcharge of around 30 per cent on all these PlayStation store transactions.

The case against Sony is being led by Alex Neill, a UK-based consumer advocate who was previously managing director of consumer advocacy powerhouse Which?.

Despite their teams of highly paid lawyers, we’re seeing more consumers in the UK take up arms against tech giants.

According to research by Thomson Reuters, the amount of damages being pursued in “class action” lawsuits jumped from £22bn to £26bn in 2022.

Class action lawsuits, which have historically been more common in the US, are where an often large group of people, frequently consumers going up against companies, are represented by a single person or small number of people.

The campaign behind the lawsuit claims that, if the case is successful, individual PlayStation consumers could be eligible for estimated damages per individual of between £67 and £562, without interest being taken into account.

To qualify for the above, you’ll need to have lived in the UK between August 19, 2016 and August 19, 2022, and to have made a purchase on the PlayStation store. Up to nine million people in the UK could potentially be eligible for payouts between £67 and £562.

But PlayStation users shouldn’t start planning where to spend the money, as the campaign admitted that it “could be several years” until any type of agreement is reached, and there is no indication of when the trial date could be.

In a statement on the recent win against dismissal, Neil said: “This is the first step in ensuring consumers get back what they’re owed as a result of Sony breaking the law. PlayStation gamers’ loyalty has been taken advantage of by Sony, who has been charging them excessive prices for years.

"It is significant that the competition court has recognised Sony must explain its actions by ordering them to trial."

In a similar anti-tech giant blow, the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled earlier this month in favour of a lawsuit against Apple, which alleged that the tech company misled iPhone owners about the state of their smartphone batteries, via installing battery-intensive CPU updates.

The case, which has been dubbed Batterygate, could lead to a £853 million payout being distributed to users of some older generation iPhones.