The antitrust lawsuit was filed with a court for the Northern District of California (opens in new tab) by a group of consumers and claims that Sony Interactive Entertainment is creating a monopoly by restricting the sale of digital download game codes by third-party retailers. Since 2019, PS4 and PS5 games have only been available to buy digitally through the PlayStation Store, meaning Sony can charge what it likes for digital PlayStation games, the lawsuit cites.
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The class-action lawsuit alleges that this approach to digital PS4 and PS5 games allows Sony to effectively create a monopoly that sees digital games priced a lot higher than its 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 lawsuit states per a Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report. It goes on to say that consumers could be paying up 175% more a digital game than a disk-based version.
There’s an argument that Sony has gone through the effort of providing a digital store and distribution system for its consoles and thus should be able to set the price of games sold through that platform. After all, with digital games, you’re mostly paying for the convenience of being able to download a game rather than hop into a retail store or order a physical copy.
Even with games now tens of gigabytes in size, the Rest Mode of the PS4 and PS5 allows software to be quietly downloaded in the background, meaning digital games can be convenient to people with slow internet connections.
For the players
However, the rather large disparity between the price of a physical game and its digital counterpart can at times be hard to swallow outside of a sales or deal offer.
So, such a lawsuit against Sony and the PlayStation Store is somewhat understandable, However, the lawsuit is currently limited to California and needs to be tackled by a judge if Sony does not resolve it outside of court. As such, there's a good chance it could be quashed or proved to be unsuccessful.
But if it does succeed, it could force Sony to reconsider how it handles digital game distribution. And that could lead to the likes of Best Buy and Amazon being able to sell digital versions of PS4 and PS5 games. More competition means more aggressive pricing, and thus ultimately cheaper games of PlayStation fans.
Given PS5 games can go for up to $70, cheaper versions will certainly be a boon for a lot of PlayStation gamers. Of course, first you need to find a healthy PS5 restock in order to bag yourself Sony’s new console. For those still looking, it's no easy task given the PS5 stock shortages.