The Autorité de la concurrence fines Sony €13.5 million for abusing its dominant position (PS4 video game controllers)


Following a referral from Subsonic, a French manufacturer of video game controllers, the Autorité has fined Sony (four group companies, including the Japanese parent company) for abusing its dominant position in the market for the supply of video game controllers for PlayStation 4 (PS4) consoles for more than four years.

The Autorité has sanctioned two practices:

  • First, Sony’s use, from November 2015, of technical countermeasures, allegedly implemented to combat counterfeiting, which affected the proper functioning of third-party video game controllers (produced by manufacturers other than Sony and without an official Sony licence), regularly leading to them being disconnected during console operating system updates.

While the Autorité stresses the legitimacy of the objective of combating counterfeiting, it points out that such measures were disproportionate, since they affected all “unlicensed” controllers indiscriminately.

  • Second, an opaque licensing policy, which in several cases prevented rival companies that wanted to market PS4-compatible controllers from joining the OLP partnership programme, which is the only way for third parties to obtain an official licence and unique identification numbers. The Autorité found that by refusing to communicate the OLP access criteria to manufacturers who requested them, Sony applied the criteria in a discretionary manner, even though access to the programme was the only way to avoid disconnections.

The Autorité considers that the combination of these two practices significantly damaged the brand image of the third-party manufacturers affected, with regard to both players and distributors, slowing down their expansion in the market and leading to their possible foreclosure.

The fine, amounting to €13,527,000, is imposed jointly and severally on three subsidiaries and the parent company of the Sony group:

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Limited (in charge of the licensing programme in Europe);
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. K.K (responsible for rolling out operating system updates for the PS4 console);
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment France (responsible for marketing controllers in France);
  • Sony Group Corporation (parent company).


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