PlayStation controllers: Sony fined 13.5 million euros for anti-competitive practices

The Competition Authority has imposed a fine of 13

PlayStation controllers: Sony fined 13.5 million euros for anti-competitive practices

The Competition Authority has imposed a fine of 13.5 million euros on the Sony group for abuse of a dominant position in the video game console accessories market, according to a press release published on Wednesday December 20. The French agency, responsible for combating anti-competitive practices, accuses the manufacturer of PlayStation (PS) consoles of having disrupted the proper functioning of controllers from other brands, between November 2015 and April 2020.

Under the guise of fighting against counterfeiting of its proprietary model, the Dualshock 4 controller, the video game giant has implemented technical measures leading to the disconnection of PS4 controllers without an official license during updates. The Competition Authority considered that such measures were “disproportionate, since they affected all unlicensed controllers indiscriminately”, whether they were counterfeit controllers or legal controllers.

A contested partnership program

Added to this practice is an “opaque licensing policy”, condemned by the Competition Authority. To avoid disconnects, third-party manufacturers had to apply for access to the official partnership program designed by Sony, called “Official Licensed Product” (OLP). It allowed third-party manufacturers to obtain an identification number for each controller, to avoid disconnections, and to use the manufacturer's logo on their packaging.

However, certain companies, such as Subsonic, have never received the criteria for access to the OLP, despite their requests to Sony. They were, in fact, unable to produce fully functional PS4 controllers.

“The combination of these two practices has significantly damaged the brand image of the affected third-party manufacturers, both vis-à-vis players and distributors, slowing down their expansion in the market and leading to their possible eviction », concluded the Competition Authority. Since the end of 2020, Sony has released the PS5, its latest generation console intended to replace the PS4, as well as new controllers called DualSense.