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Sony Gets Court to Toss Video Gamers’ PlayStation Antitrust Suit

July 18, 2022, 2:54 PM

Sony Interactive Entertainment convinced a federal judge to toss a proposed class action alleging the entertainment giant engaged in anti-competitive acts through its control of the PlayStation Store.

Judge Richard Seeborg of the US District Court for the Northern District of California, who granted Sony’s motion to dismiss July 15, found the plaintiffs failed to adequately allege violations under the Sherman Act. But the plaintiffs could file an amended complaint, he said.

The plaintiffs, a group of video game players who purchased digital copies of games from the PlayStation Store, alleged that Sony’s decision to sell video games only on the store where it could control prices unlawfully monopolized the market and increased costs for consumers.

Sony had previously allowed other retailers to sell its digital games. But it changed its policy in 2019 so the only available marketplace was the Sony-run PlayStation Store, where the company could unilaterally set prices for every game, the complaint alleged.

The lawsuit hinged on whether the move to sell only on the PlayStation Store was intended primarily to cut off competition, rather than a shrewd business decision. The plaintiffs were unable to sufficiently show that Sony ended a profitable business practice to seize control of the market, Seeborg wrote.

“For all the foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted because Plaintiffs have failed to allege adequately anticompetitive conduct under the Sherman Act, and the other claims are derivative of the Sherman Act claims,” Seeborg wrote. “Although it is unclear at this time if the deficiencies may be cured, Plaintiff is granted leave to amend.”

The lawsuit is one in a wave of antitrust litigation leveled against video game publishers and digital platform companies recently. Valve, the owner of PC game platform Steam, is facing a consumer and developer lawsuit alleging it utilizes a most-favored-nation policy to maintain its control of the market and high prices for games.

The case is Caccuri v. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC, N.D. Cal., no. 3:21-cv-03361, 7/15/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Papscun in Washington at dpapscun@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Maria Chutchian at mchutchian@bloombergindustry.com; Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com