Late last week, we learned that the European Commission has launched an investigation into several game publishers over content geo-blocking and regional pricing. Now, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is also launching its own separate investigation into Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to check they aren’t breaching consumer laws.
While the EU is looking into Valve, Bethesda, Capcom and others, the UK will be looking into the big three console makers. The primary focus will be on subscription services, like Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, PS+, PSNow and Nintendo Switch Online. The CMA has informed all three companies of its investigation and has begun asking consumers to share their experiences with these services.
The CMA’s Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli, confirmed that the main concern is ‘roll-over contracts’ or automatically renewing subscriptions and whether or not they are fair to consumers. If Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo are found to be breaching consumer protection law in the UK, then the CMA is “fully prepared to take action”.
This all follows a report from Norway last year, which called out several large gaming companies for their business practices and refund policies. Not much came from that at the time but more scrutiny is seemingly being placed now.
KitGuru Says: When it comes to the big three console makers, I think the focus should really be on refund policies, particularly for digital games. Subscriptions can be cancelled fairly easily at any time nowadays but getting a Steam-like refund for a digital game is much more difficult.