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PlayStation Store antitrust class action lawsuit dismissed

A US judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit against Sony over allegedly anti-competitive changes to the PlayStation Store. The class action lawsuit was first reported in May, with Sony deciding to dismiss the case on July 15.

The class action lawsuit was brought by a group of gamers who said changes to PlayStation Store’s practices regarding digital games constituted an unlawful abuse of monopoly power. In 2019, Sony changed its rules regarding digital games sold by third-party vendors, preventing retailers from selling digital codes for games on the PS Store.

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Retailers could still sell physical copies, but the lawsuit alleged that Sony was abusing its dominant market position to increase the consumer’s costs of digital games – sometimes as much as 175% over the price of physical games.

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However, Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California dismissed the case on Friday, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Judge Seeborg wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that Sony violated the Sherman Act by deliberately ending a profitable business practice in order to gain control of the market.

“For all of the foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted because plaintiffs have failed to adequately allege anti-competitive conduct under the Sherman Act, and the other claims are derived from the Sherman Act claims,” wrote Seeborg. “While it is unclear at this time whether the deficiencies can be corrected, the applicant is permitted to amend.”

Although currently dismissed, the class action can still be filed with an amended complaint.

Digital PC game retailer Valve is also the subject of a similar lawsuit from Wolfire Games, with the developer alleging that Steam’s key parity provision is anti-competitive. The policy prevents games sold on Steam from being cheaper on other digital storefronts, even if those storefronts take less than the 30% discount charged by Steam. The case notably argues that Steam is abusing its market dominance to enforce the anti-competitive policy that could see games priced cheaper on platforms like the Epic Games Store, which only takes a 12% cut.

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