Xbox Live PlayStation Plus and Nintendo-online are all being investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
Below are some exerts from their announcement on the topic, you can view the full release here–
“The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned about whether some of these companies’ business practices are legal, such as their use of auto-renewals for online gaming contracts, their cancellation and refund policies, and their terms and conditions.”
“It is also calling on customers who use these services to get in touch with the CMA and share their experiences in order to assist the investigation, which will examine several issues, including:
- are the contract terms unfair? – do the companies’ terms give them wide discretion to change the quality of the deal, for example, by reducing the number of games included or increasing the price?
- how easy it is to cancel or obtain a refund? – are there any factors that make it difficult for people to cancel their contract or get their money back?
- how fair is the auto-renewal process? – are customers clearly told that their membership will be rolled over, are they regularly reminded that they are on a roll-over contract before further payments are taken, and is auto-renewal set as the default option?”
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:
Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace and its essential that they work well for customers.
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.
This could lead to a lot of strange and large changes to the way Online Subscriptions are used in gaming consoles. In the case it does, hopefully it is beneficial to the gaming industry.