PS5 PS4 PlayStation 1
Image: Push Square

Sony is being sued £5 billion (~$5.91 billion) for allegedly “ripping off” players of the PS5 and PS4. The lawsuit argues that by taking 30 per cent commission on every product purchased through the PS Store, the firm has “abused its position”. Consumer rights advocate Alex Neill, who’s leading the legal action, says: “The actions of Sony is costing millions of people who can't afford it, particularly when we're in the midst of a cost of living crisis and the consumer purse is being squeezed like never before.”

It’s worth noting that almost all digital storefronts take a 30 per cent cut on products sold, including the Microsoft Store and Nintendo eShop. Emerging competitors like the Epic Games Store have aggressively lowered their rates against PC-based storefronts like Steam in an effort to attract more content, but still take 12 per cent off the top.

The reason for the fee is because platform holders make significant investment into platforms like the PS5 and PS4, and then recoup this money through licensing fees. Most hardware is sold at razor-thin margins, and the money is made back through software sales and digital purchases. The business model also applies to products like the iPhone, where Apple takes a cut of all apps and microtransactions sold through the App Store. It’s this exact fee that led to a dispute between the tech giant and Fortnite developer Epic Games.

“With this legal action I am standing up for the millions of UK people who have been unwittingly overcharged,” Neill continued. “We believe Sony has abused its position and ripped off its customers.” If the lawsuit is successful, it’s believed that consumers could be eligible for compensation in the region of “£67 and £562 excluding interest”.

Interestingly, the suit only covers the past six years of purchases – despite this business model dating all the way back to the original PS1. It seems the entire suit hinges on a consumer rights act introduced in the UK in 2015, which includes clauses pertaining to the sale of digital goods. Ultimately, we’re not legal experts so we’re curious what comes of this, but we can’t see the suit being successful, as regardless of whether Sony takes a 30 per cent cut, it’s down to the individual publishers and developers to set the price of their products.