The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching a consumer law investigation into video game companies Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo over some of their business practices, it announced on Friday.
The CMA is concerned about whether or not some of the companies’ practices are legal, including their use of auto-renewals for subscription services like Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online. It’s also looking into their cancellation and refund policies and their terms and conditions. It said it’s written to Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft requesting information on their online gaming contracts and it’s calling on people who use these services to tell the CMA about their experiences.
“Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace and its essential that they work well for customers,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA. “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.”
Right now, the CMA said it’s too early to formulate an opinion on whether or not the companies have broken consumer protection law.
News of the CMA’s investigation comes on the same day the European Commission criticized Valve and five video game publishers for what it calls the “geo-blocking” of digital PC titles. It believes they broke EU antitrust rules by preventing consumers from buying and activating digital games outside their countries of residence.