The big three gaming titans, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, are currently under scrutiny of the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) branch, with an investigation having been opened in regards to the policies of their online services. According to the official press release, the CMA believes that the three aforementioned companies must be investigated to ensure that UK consumers are protected, and that the subscription services are legal within the country. Though there is no proof at this time that any laws have been broken, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are required to respond to the UK government with information on their respective contracts, so that the CMA can research that the terms are fair. What they appear to be looking for are incidents where customers have had trouble cancelling the services, dealt with numerous price hikes, or were forced into having to turn on auto-renew. Once the investigation concludes, a decision will be made, and either nothing will occur, or the offending party will have action taken against them.
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, which will examine several issues, including:
- are the contract terms unfair? - do the companies’ terms give them wide discretion to change the quality of the deal, for example, by reducing the number of games included or increasing the price?
- how easy it is to cancel or obtain a refund? - are there any factors that make it difficult for people to cancel their contract or get their money back?
- how fair is the auto-renewal process? - are customers clearly told that their membership will be rolled over, are they regularly reminded that they are on a roll-over contract before further payments are taken, and is auto-renewal set as the default option?