Although CMA has not made specific accusations, it is focusing on some areas of concern.
The UK authorities have initiated an investigation into Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch under suspicion of their unfair way of subscription of online gaming services. The government authority wants to know whether or not these online gaming services violate consumer protection law and refund policies. The authorities will primarily focus on companies’ cancellation policy, auto-renewals, refund system, and their terms and conditions. On April 5, 2019, the Competition and Market Authority (CMA), government institution conducting an investigation, expressed its ‘concern’ over these companies and their policies.
Although CMA has not made specific accusations, there are some areas of concern. For instance, Sony has raised prices for PlayStation Plus more than once where the user does not have a guarantee of getting free games of the same volume. Furthermore, auto-renewal is quite common. On the contrary, the Switch users having Twitch Prime promotion have to turn off the auto-renewal. In the case of Microsoft Gold Xbox Live users, they are getting the same subscription programs as Sony. The CMA is seeking feedback from the UK customers of these three companies. According to the authority, the way these companies conduct their subscription services could be unfair.
The CMA issued a statement on the UK’s government website where it spoke about the investigation process. “The CMA has written to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox requesting information about their online gaming contracts to help better understand their practices. It is also calling on customers who use these services to get in touch with the CMA and share their experiences in order to assist the investigation,” addressed CMA. Although we cannot be certain whether or not the companies are practicing unfair subscription policies, the investigation will help gamers get fair online gaming services.