The competition watchdog has finally given Sony and Nintendo’s gaming subscription the green light after initial concerns about ‘locking in’ customers.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) sector-wide investigation looked at subscriptions for online gaming services where people automatically continue to be charged indefinitely until they take action to end their contract.
The CMA was concerned that gamers might find themselves locked into paying for services they no longer want or use.
Sony agreed to put in place measures to protect PlayStation Plus customers who hadn’t used their memberships for a long time but were still paying.
The Japanese firm will now contact these customers to remind them how to stop payments and, if they continue not to use their memberships, Sony will ultimately stop taking further payments.
The CMA also came for Nintendo, which changed its business practices during the course of the investigation so that its Switch Online Service was no longer sold with automatic renewal set as the default option.
As a result, people will not automatically enter into renewing contracts, addressing the CMA’s concerns about contract traps.
Executive Director of Enforcement at the CMA Michael Grenfell said:
As a result of our investigations, a number of changes have been made across this sector to protect customers and help tackle concerns about auto-renewing subscriptions.
Today’s announcement therefore concludes our investigations into the online video gaming sector. Companies in other sectors which offer subscriptions that auto-renew should review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law.
The competition watchdog also recently launched the ‘Online Rip-Off Tip-Off’ campaign, which is designed to make shoppers aware of the importance of understanding the terms of any deal they sign up to, giving out practical tips to help them protect themselves when shopping online.