Online services from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are under investigation from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to ensure they’re not in breach of the country’s consumer laws.
The investigation will primarily focus on the three companies’ subscription services and the ways in which they auto-renew, but will also consider other factors, such as whether contract terms are fair, and how easy it is to cancel a pre-order or refund a purchase. The CMA says that it has written to all three companies, and is also asking for consumers to share their experiences.
In a statement (via gamesindustry.biz) the CMA’s chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said that “roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace, and it’s essential that they work well for customers.” Coscelli clarified that the investigation would consider “whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers.” Nothing formal is happening at this stage, but Coscelli says that “should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action.”
The three companies were reported by Norway last year for not complying with EU consumer laws. Also hit by that report were Valve and EA, as Steam and Origin were both found to be in breach of consumer protection regulations.
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Valve has come under fire elsewhere this month, as the EU commission has criticised the company – as well as Bandai Namco, Capcom, and Zenimax, among others – for region locking game keys, a practice that Valve says it stopped in 2015.