Australia's competition watchdog has announced that is suing Sony and PlayStation Australia for making "false or misleading representations to Australian consumers", both through its website and through the online PlayStation Store.
The case centres on representations made by Sony support staff to consumers "from around September 2017"—when Destiny 2 launched—whereby consumers were allegedly refused refunds "unless the game developer told the consumer the game was irreparably faulty or otherwise authorised a refund".
Sony Europe, which operates the PlayStation Support centre that services local gamers, is also alleged to have claimed that it could provide refunds with virtual PlayStation currency instead of Australian dollars. Rod Sims, chairman of the consumer watchdog, said the ACCC would argue in court that consumer rights "do not expire" after a game has been downloaded.
"Consumer guarantees do not expire after a digital product has been downloaded as we allege Sony Europe told consumers, and refunds must be given in the form of original payment unless a consumer chooses to receive it in store credit," Sims said.
“No matter where in the world a company has its headquarters, if it is selling to Australian consumers, the Australian Consumer Law applies,” Mr Sims said. The regulator said they would be seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, correctives and costs, while also filing an action against Sony Europe's parent company, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Limited.
The case bears some hallmarks with the ACCC's successful suit against Valve, the owners and operators of the Steam PC digital marketplace, over their refusal to provide refunds. After a battle that went all the way to the High Court, the Steam platform now has a permanent notice on its front page for Australian users outlining locals of their rights under Australian Consumer Law. Valve also instituted a refund policy while the case was ongoing, where users can refund any game no questions asked provided they have less than two hours of playtime.
Kotaku Australia reached out to Sony Australia and their PR agency for a response. Sony Australia did not respond prior to publication, while their PR spokesperson told Kotaku Australia that Sony Australia “could not be reached for comment”. You can read the full ACCC release outlining their allegations here.