In 2019, PlayStation made the decision to no longer offer codes for digital games for sale at retail locations. While consumers can still purchase gift cards for the PlayStation Store at retailers, Sony's digital store is the only place PlayStation fans can purchase games for the platform. According to Bloomberg, consumers unhappy with this decision have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging that Sony's practice is monopolistic. Caccuri v. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The filing claims that consumers can end up paying up to "175%" more for digital games over their physical counterparts.
"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," the filing reads.
It will be interesting to see where the case goes from here! For gamers that prefer digital games over physical, it's easy to see how this could be problematic. With Sony now offering a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, buyers of that particular version of the console are forced to purchase games directly from PlayStation. When retailers like Best Buy or Walmart offer sale prices for digital and physical games, those prices are often better or more competitive than those on the PlayStation Store. Sony frequently offers sales on the Store, but the "175%" figure is not totally unbelievable.
For now, gamers interested in the outcome will just have to wait and see what happens! In previous console generations, the case might have been a bit harder to make, as any PlayStation user would have the option of buying a physical copy for the system. But in the next-gen era, anyone that buys a digital-only PS5 is now handcuffed to making purchases through the PlayStation Store. Whether or not that constitutes a monopolistic practice remains to be seen, but it certainly seems like the consumers involved in the lawsuit have a strong case!
Did you purchase an all-digital version of the PlayStation 5? Do you think Sony's digital store policies are monopolistic? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!