Like clockwork every five to seven years, the gaming world starts to buzz with rumors of a new PlayStation console. Technical specs and mock designs are leaked and speculated about for months before any official announcement is made. People start planning their birthday and Christmas wishlists, knowing demand will outpace supply. The release of the Sony PlayStation 5 was no exception.
On November 12, 2020, the hotly anticipated PS5 went on sale in select countries. Even though they were in short supply, the PS5 had the highest sales in terms of units and dollars in U.S. history; sales during the first three months hit over 5 million units and $2.6 billion in revenue. According to NPD Group, by March of 2021, consumer spending across all video game hardware, accessories, and content had reached a record $5.6 billion, a staggering 18% higher than a year ago.
The Sony PS5 broke with tradition by offering two editions: the standard base edition with a 4K drive and the PS5 Digital Edition, which does not have a disc drive. The PS5 Digital Edition seemed inevitable. Our world is rapidly turning digital, which is reflected in the video game industry. The rise of streaming and platforms such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming has changed how consumers buy and play games.
The PS5 Digital Edition is the same as the standard version in design, interface, and internal specs. The only difference is the obvious lack of a disc drive. The digital edition was aimed at an audience who would be happy to ditch physical game discs without sacrificing performance. This all sounds great, right? Don’t be so sure.
The PS5 Digital Edition is still as robust as the standard edition, and for those concerned about space, it makes perfect sense to purchase a console that is 100% digital. However, there are issues to consider. The PS5 is backward compatible, but if you own a cadre of PS4 games on disc, you have to repurchase the digital version in the PlayStation store. Additionally, digital versions of games are only available through the PlayStation Store, a radical shift from being able to buy games from other retailers, frequently for a lower price. Because Sony now dictates where consumers can purchase digital games, they also have 100% control over price.
Which leads us to ask: If Sony has sole distribution rights to digital edition console owners, what’s to stop them from inflating prices to maximize their profits? The answer is nothing. Sony effectively has a price monopoly on PlayStation content, leaving consumers a single place to purchase any digital PlayStation content. This lack of competition means you are forced to pay a higher price because a free and unrestrained retail market does not exist.
The Joseph Saveri Law Firm has filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC and its parent, Sony Group Corporation (collectively “Sony”). The firm represents a proposed class of more than a million individuals across the U.S. who allege they were overcharged billions of dollars on their digital content purchases through the PlayStation Store.
Please contact us if you have purchased a PS5 Digital Edition and would like to find out how Sony’s conduct may have affected you, have knowledge of these or similar types of overcharges, or would like to learn more about our investigation into Sony’s alleged anti-competitive behavior.
Any information you provide will be kept strictly confidential as provided by law.