Sony Interactive Entertainment, Nintendo, and Microsoft -- and their respective consoles, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One -- may soon be in hot water. Today, The Competition and Markets Authority announced and launched an investigation into numerous business practices exercised by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft that may violate consumer rights. The Competition and Markets Authority -- which is tasked with preventing anti-competitive business activities in the United Kingdom -- has written the three companies requesting information about online gaming contracts.
According to the CMA, its intentions include examining whether the contract terms are fair. For example, it will look at whether or not auto-renewal process is fair, and how easy it is to cancel a pre-order or obtain a refund. This second bit is especially interesting when you consider just earlier this week Sony Interactive Entertainment updated its digital refund policy, making it easier to get refunds. Perhaps, it knew this probe was coming.
At the moment, the CMA has nothing that suggests any of the companies are in violation of consumer protection law, however, if it does find evidence of this, it will take legal action.
"Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace and its essential that they work well for customers," said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli in an official statement.
"Our investigation will look into whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers when they automatically renew their contracts, and whether people can easily cancel or get a refund.
"Should we find that the firms aren't treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action."
Unfortunately, CMA doesn't provide a timeline of when we can expect to hear more, but presumably we should have an update on the investigation in the relatively near-future. Anyway, as always, feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think or hit me up on Twitter @Tyler_Fischer_ and let me know there. Is this new CMA probe good or bad for the industry?
Thanks, Games Industry.
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