Last Friday, a consumer filed suit against Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC and Sony Group Corporation (together, Sony) accusing the consumer electronics manufacturer of anticompetitive conduct in the market for video games played on the PlayStation 5 (PS5) Digital Edition (DE), one of two versions of the console. According to the complaint, Sony illegally ties the PlayStation Store with the PS5 DE and eliminates competition from retailers and game developers that could sell digital download codes.
The Northern District of California lawsuit states that Sony released the PS5 DE, a console without a disk drive, in November 2020. Because of its all-digital format, consumers must purchase download codes and digital copies of games from the PlayStation Store, the complaint explains.
Prior to the PS5 DE’s release, consumers could purchase video games from game developers and retailers including Amazon, GameStop, Walmart, and Target, among others, on Blu-ray discs or in digital download form. Thereafter, Sony reportedly “made the anticompetitive decision to refuse to allow retail outlets to sell video games through digital download codes,” in view of the price competition between retailers.
Allegedly, this action forced consumers to purchase PS5 games on the PlayStation Store, an application owned and operated by Sony that is pre-loaded on the console. As a result of Sony’s alleged unlawful attainment and maintenance of a monopoly over the sale of PS5 digital video games, the consumer and putative PS5 DE purchaser class have allegedly paid and will continue to pay overcharges.
In turn, the filing seeks damages equal to the amount the consumer has already overpaid, treble damages, and injunctive relief to end the illegal overcharges and restore competition to the market. Notably, another consumer class action filed last week alleges that Sony monopolized digital video games through its PlayStation Store. Unlike the instant suit, and among other things, the previous suit asserts that Sony did so from Apr. 1, 2019, not the date of the release of the new PS5, Nov. 12, 2020.
The plaintiff is represented by Joseph Saveri Law Firm LLP.