The Italian Antitrust has issued a fine for Sony Interactive Entertainment to the amount of two million euros for running unfair business practices pertaining to the sales of the PlayStation 4 in Europe. Sony has been given thirty days to pay.
So, what’s the issue? Well, apparently it has to do with the boxes of PS4 games. According to the Italian Antitrust, there is a lack of clear information on PS4 game boxes about whether or not PlayStation Plus subscriptions are required for play.
The Italian Antitrust alleges this amounts to a misdirection of consumers, and has affected a large swath of purchasers who have bought the console since it released in 2013.
As they do in North America, PS4 boxes in Europe do indeed make mention of whether or not any given game requires a PlayStation Plus subscription, it’s just a bit tucked away on the back of the box. So, it seems the beef is that’s not mentioned clearly enough on boxes.
This may seem harsh, but hopefully it will lead to more clear indications of what a product requires. Buying a game to just find out you can’t play it because you don’t subscribe to another service stinks, and Sony should help consumers avoid this, not capitalize on it.
Of course, it’s unlikely this will trickle to the North American market, which has much more lax consumer protection policies, for better or worse.
Anyway, if Sony don’t correct the issue, the failure to comply can result in an additional fine that ranges between 10,000 euros and five million euros. Further, temporary suspension of business activities could be dealt out upon repeated failures, though it probably won’t get to that point.
Of course, Sony can also choose to appeal the decision at any time within the next sixty days. Two million isn’t much for Sony — though changes to box production would add to the costs — but that doesn’t mean it will simply give in without first exploring whether it’s in the wrong or not.