The Competition and Markets Authority of the United Kingdom has started an investigation into the business practices of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, focusing mainly on their online gaming contracts. The CMA will examine whether the contract terms are fair, how easy it is to cancel a pre-order or obtain a refund, and how the auto-renewal process works with regular reminders and default settings.
Consumers are being urged to get in touch with the CMA to share their experience buying games on Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo’s platforms.
Currently the CMA has no view on whether the companies are in violation of consumer protection law, though enforcement action could be taken if the “practices are misleading or their terms are unfair.”
“Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace and its essential that they work well for customers,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
“Our investigation will look into whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers when they automatically renew their contracts, and whether people can easily cancel or get a refund.
“Should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action.”
So while nothing is certain, the next few months’ investigation of all three game publishers will be critical. Should be interesting to see how this affects the big three at E3 later this year.
Depending on the findings of the CMA, we may also see changes to the systems abroad. What exactly it will mean for the Google Stadia also remains to be seen.