Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are being put under the microscope by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent, non-ministerial government department in the UK tasked with strengthening business competition and preventing practices running counter to its objective.
The CMA is specifically investigating the auto-renewal policies of the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox systems to see if they are lawful, the CMA said in a press release issued Gov.UK.
"Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace and it's essential that they work well for customers," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in the statement.
The bureau's concerns encompass payment for online services, cancellation and refund policies, their terms and conditions and the memberships for players that auto-renew -- taking money automatically from buyers' accounts -- when they roll over.
"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," said Coscelli. "Should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action."
A request of information by the CMA to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox regarding their gaming contracts was filed. The CMA states it seeks to better understand the companies practices and is calling on gamers to get in touch with them and share experiences that will help in the investigation.
The investigation is a response to a "super-complaint on the loyalty penalty," which spurred the CMA to take action and identify "a number of damaging practices" laid out in its statement. The "loyalty penalty" is when those who stay with a provider end up paying more than new customers. The organization hasn't yet determined if any of the companies involved in the investigation have broken the law.
(via Screen Rant)