Sony Sued for Restricting Digital Games to PS Store and Charging ‘Supracompetitive’ Prices

Sony Interactive Entertainment is facing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California for restricting digital game purchases to the PlayStation Store and charging “supracompetitive” prices.

Two years ago, Sony announced that retailers would no longer be able to sell digital game codes for PlayStation and those who wish to download games will have to do so via the PlayStation Store. According to Bloomberg, the plaintiffs argue that “Sony’s monopoly allows it to charge supracompetitive prices for digital PlayStation games, which are significantly higher than their physical counterparts sold in a competitive retail market, and significantly higher than they would be in a competitive retail market for digital games.”

Sony has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Back in 2019, Sony told Games Industry that its decision to pull download codes from retailers was taken to “align key businesses globally.” “We will no longer be offering full games through SIE’s Global Digital at Retail program. To support full games and premium editions, SIE will introduce increased denominations at select retailers. DLC, add-ons, virtual currency, and season passes will still be available,” the company added.

According to the lawsuit, gamers are paying as much as 175 percent more for downloadable games compared to the same games on disc. The case in question is Caccuri vs. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC, 3:21-cv-03361, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

What do our readers think of this? Share your thoughts on the case with us in the comments below.

[Source: Bloomberg]

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Jade Raymond’s Haven Studios Acquires Six Developers from Google Stadia For its PlayStation Exclusive New IP

Last month, Jade Raymond announced her latest venture. After the collapse of Stadia Games and Entertainment, an internal development studio at Google Stadia, Raymond revealed she had moved on from her role as the studio’s Vice President and founded a new studio called Haven Studios, partnering with Sony to work on a PlayStation exclusive. Six additional staff members who recently left Stadia have also joined Haven.

Raymond founded the studio with Sebastien Puel, although he didn’t start at Haven until this month. Puel used to be Stadia Games’ General Manager. At the time the studio was announced, Raymond stated she would be working with “talented game developers I have worked with for years” and she’s certainly bringing some of her more recent acquaintances with her. Corey May will be Haven’s World and IP Director; he was previously Head of Creative Services & Publishing at Stadia Games. Jonathan Dankoff is the studio’s Insights Director, previously Staff UX Researcher at Stadia. Pierre-Marc Bérubé will be a Software Engineer and he was previously a Graphics Programmer at Stadia. Finally, Erwann Le Rouzic and Francis Denoncourt will be assuming the roles of Concept Artists. You can probably guess where they used to work too.

Before working at Stadia, Raymond began her career with Sony. She then moved on to EA as an Electric Playground correspondent before going on to Ubisoft Montreal. She later founded Ubisoft Toronto where she was executive producer on Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, and Watch Dogs. She’d even laid down the framework for a new Splinter Cell title before leaving the studio, one that has never seen the light of day. After Ubisoft, Raymond returned to EA where she was responsible for leading EA Motive and Visceral Games. She worked on Mass Effect, Star Wars, and a brand new “dynamic action-adventure” IP, the latter of which was also never released. It was following her tenure at EA that she went to head up the internal Stadia studio.

Haven Studios is working on a new unannounced IP for PlayStation. While little is known about the IP, Raymond said they “want to create worlds where players can escape, have fun, express themselves, and find community,” as well as to “create games that are a haven for players”. Hopefully her new IP fares better than some of her previous titles now that the studio has no “barriers or impediments.”

[Source: ResetEra]

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PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway is the Latest Sneaker Collaboration With PlayStation and Paul George That You Probably Won’t Be Able to Buy

Paul George and PlayStation are collaborating once again for a limited edition pair of PlayStation 5 sneakers that you’ll probably have a hard time getting your hands on thanks to scalpers taking over sneaker culture. The PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway sneakers were designed in collaboration with Paul George and designers at Nike and PlayStation, including Yujin Morisawa, the artist who created the PS5’s console design. The shoes are meant to evoke the unique look of the PS5 and actually hide the PlayStation shapes in a similar way to the DualSense controller. Sales will open in “select regions” on May 14th.

Shoes are big business, so the PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway sneakers get their own hype trailer that fits in right alongside the rest of the PS5’s marketing.

Paul George himself offered some of what you can expect when (or if) you get your hands on these sneakers. The right and left tongues feature the PlayStation and PG logos respectively, each in a vibrant blue. PlayStation 5 references and inspirations can be found throughout the shoes’ design, including the sock liner and outsoles. And as mentioned above, the PlayStation shapes are featured in the same subtle pattern that hides them on the DualSense controller. Each pair also includes a special PG x PlayStation hangtag celebrating the ongoing collaboration between the two.

PlayStation is Paul George’s favorite gaming brand, and this isn’t the first time he’s done a collaboration with the console manufacturer for some special gaming shoes. Back in 2018, the basketball star unveiled a special PG-2 PlayStation Colorway that included illumination in the logos on the tongues. There were also a pair that mimicked the classic grey design of the original PlayStation, and still another edition that evoked the modern blue. The new PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway seems to do away with the light up logos in the tongues that all of the PG-2 editions had.

If you think the scalping issues for the PS5 consoles are bad, just wait until you try to order the PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway sneakers when sales open on May 14th. You can download the Nike SNKRS app or check the Nike website directly for availability if you want to try your hand at snagging a pair. The PG 5 PlayStation 5 Colorway retails at $120, but that’s if you can manage to get them at release. Scalpers will inevitably drive up the resale price by hundreds of dollars once they’re sold out.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

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Activision in Process of Recruiting 2,000 More Developers to ‘Triple the Size of Certain Franchise Teams’

Activision Blizzard is the latest company to reveal their financial results for the last quarter of the financial year. Thanks to Call of Duty, the company’s revenue has grown more than they expected and they’ve now adjusted their outlook as a result. To help maintain this momentum, the company is in the process of recruiting more than 2,000 more developers to “triple the size of certain franchise teams,” expected to be bolstering Call of Duty development significantly.

Activision’s publishing section, which deals with the games they release on console and PC, saw its revenue grow by 72% in comparison to last year, reaching a total of $891 million. This is mainly thanks to Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Call of Duty Mobile, which reached a record 150 million monthly active users in Q1 between them. The freeplay offerings of Warzone and Mobile have managed to triple the number of players per month over the last two years and have added “over a billion dollars of operating income” last year. Mobile also managed to hit a couple of milestones, reaching lifetime earnings of $1 billion and 500 million downloads.

Call of Duty on the PC and console increased its net bookings by 60% from last year. The franchise’s premium games have now sold over 400 million copies during its lifetime. Activision revealed the integration of Black Ops Cold War and Warzone helped the former to reach sales “well above” the normal first quarter sales for any of their previous Call of Duty titles. The first two seasons of these games also rank amongst the top three best seasons ever and Season Three is currently “sustaining this strong run rate, tracking the line with the first two seasons.” This year’s premium Call of Duty release from Sledgehammer Games will also be integrated into Warzone in some way, but the details of how were not provided.

To keep this momentum going, Activision intends to hire more than 2,000 developers in between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022. They’re looking to hire staff around the world, including for new studios or major studio expansions in Poland, China, Australia, and Canada. They also plan to triple the size of “certain franchise teams” in comparison to their size in 2019, something they’ve already started by moving many development teams to focus on Call of Duty. They later confirmed this meant growing the creative teams for Call of Duty so they can “deliver even more compelling experiences.” They’ve already added “hundreds of developers” to those studios over the last year. Sledgehammer is one of those expanded teams with new members added at Foster City, Melbourne, and Toronto.

Aside from this year’s premium Call of Duty release, Activision didn’t really mention much in the way of future releases. The company’s President and COO Daniel Alegre stated they “really haven’t seen any significant impact to game development with our current games in pipeline.” The development of Diablo IV is “progressing very well with a significant extended team focused on not only launching an epic new experience, but also following this up with robust in-game content to sustain community.” Blizzard is also “making good progress on Overwatch 2” and will be making frequent updates on this title in the future.

[Source: Seeking Alpha (1, 2)]


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Sony Suffers Defeat in Brazilian Court Over Banned PS5 Consoles

Last December, The São Paulo Court of Justice ordered Sony to “unblock” PlayStation 5 consoles that it banned for violations of its terms of service. Sony had “bricked” PS5 consoles that violated its ToS by exploiting a loophole that allowed users to unlock the PlayStation Plus Collection for PS4 buyers for a fee. The company asked the court to overturn the ruling because it had “legally” banned the consoles. However, the court wasn’t convinced and pointed out that Sony’s stance on the matter was not “crystal clear” to users.

As reported by ResetEra, the court found that although Sony did make it clear that sharing games from the collection is prohibited, the punishment for doing so wasn’t made clear to the user. In announcing its decision, the court also ordered Sony to pay R$ 1,500 to cover the plaintiff’s lawyer’s fee alongside bearing the cost of the lawsuit.

The initial verdict passed by Judge Anderson Antonucci last December noted that there was “danger of irreparable damage or difficult repair” when it comes to removing Sony’s “lock” on the consoles. The PS5 costs R$ 5,000 in Brazil so Sony’s bricking of the hardware was frowned upon.

“It is as if you were accused of violating the terms of use of a streaming service – such as Netflix, for example – and were punished by permanently turning off your television, without being able to turn it on to watch open TV,” a legal expert told Metropolis after the initial sentencing.

Share your thoughts on the verdict with us below.

[Source: ResetEra]

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