- Sony has been fined 13.5 million euros by the French government for antitrust violations in supplying PS4 controllers, impacting third-party manufacturers.
- Sony’s technical measures against counterfeit controllers hindered third-party expansion and damaged their brand image, according to France’s antitrust regulator.
- Lack of transparent licensing policies and communication with manufacturers led to Sony’s second infraction, impacting the video game market.
Sony was issued a fine of 13.5 million euros ($14.8 million) by the French government for violating antitrust regulations while supplying PlayStation 4 controllers. France’s antitrust regulator rules that Sony committed two infractions and abused its position in the video game market, resulting in the fine.
Released in November 2020, the PlayStation 5 became a worldwide success for Sony as first-party support for the PS4 began to slow down. Although supply issues initially hindered sales of the console, the PS5 reached 50 million units worldwide as of December 2023. Outgoing Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan also reassured fans that a “full supply” of PS5 consoles would be available during the holiday season.
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Competition Policy International reports that France’s antitrust regulator, Autorite de la Concurrence, concluded an investigation and announced that Sony had been issued a 13.5 million euro fine for committing two primary infractions. Firstly, Sony’s technical measures for combating counterfeit PS4 controllers were deemed detrimental to third-party manufacturers, since these measures would target unlicensed controllers indiscriminately with regular disconnections. These measures were implemented with a November 2015 system update for the PS4, and subsequent system updates saw third-party controllers disconnect frequently during the updating process. This would result in the first infraction against Sony, with the regulator claiming that these measures hinder the expansion of third-party manufacturers and negatively impacted their brand image.
Sony Fine and Regulatory Infractions
- Fine: 13.5 million euros, or $14.8 million
- First infraction: Disproportionate measures against PS4 controllers from third-party manufacturers
- Second infraction: Lack of transparent licensing policies and communication
The French regulator notes that Sony’s lack of transparency in the company’s licensing policy resulted in the second infraction. Companies were reportedly impeded from joining Sony’s licensing program, as access was only granted through a partnership program. The regulatory body discovered that Sony refused to communicate criteria for program access to manufacturers, and the criteria itself was applied at Sony’s discretion. When combined with the actions committed in the first infraction, the Autorite de la Concurrence ruled that Sony’s practices negatively impacted the video games market and discouraged third-party manufacturers from conducting business, leading to their foreclosures. Sony has not publicly responded to the fine yet, but the regulator’s ruling may open the door for more investigations into global practices by major companies like Sony and Microsoft.
The video game market continues to grow year-over-year, with many third-party manufacturers building accessories and controllers for the latest gaming platforms. Impeding manufacturers could limit the options that players have for third-party controllers, and restrictions by Sony could also be detrimental to accessibility efforts by third parties as well. Sony may want to reassess its policies regarding controllers, since new devices can greatly benefit the player base in the PS5 generation.
Sony is no stranger to controversy in recent months, with the recent Insomniac Games leak revealing that Sony pressured the company to lay off employees. 2024 may prove to be an important and successful year for Sony if the company avoids controversy and regulatory scrutiny, ensures support from manufacturers, and releases major first-party games to keep fans happy.
Sony PlayStation 5
The Sony PlayStation 5 console is one of the most popular gaming machines on offer currently with a fast SSD, a customer AMD APU, and 16GB of GDDR6 console memory making it one of the fastest options if you are looking for a living room console experience. It also happens to have a surprising number of console exclusives on offer and currently trades at a discount at multiple retailers nationwide.
- 4K Capabilities
- Yes, Upto 4K 120Hz
- Power Source
- AC Power
- What’s Included
- Console, HDMI Cable, Controller, A/C Power, Stand, Documentation
- Sony PlayStation
- Processing Power
- Upto 10.3 TFLOPS
- Custom 8-Core Zen 2
- Built-in with the controller
- 12 pounds
- 16GB GDDR6