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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

UK's Competition & Markets Authority Completes Investigation into Nintendo Switch Online


Three years ago, I wrote how the United Kingdom's Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the major console holders and their subscription services to see if they are predatory. I've always held that they are predatory, especially auto-renewal practices (especially given the absence of manual renewal!). Other people didn't tell me that they WEREN'T predatory; they just told me that it's normal. An injustice being widespread doesn't make it acceptable. That makes it all the more important for it to be identified and corrected.

Finally, after three years, the CMA has concluded their investigation. Yes. They're predatory and weren't legal... AND they have compelled all three of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to make changes.

For Microsoft's services, they will provide better information and make it clear to customers that the subscription will auto-renew and how much that will cost and when. (And when prices will increase.) Microsoft will reach out to customers on reoccurring 12-month subscriptions and ask if they'd like refunds. People who keep paying for their subscription without actually using it will also be contacted and asked if they'd like to stop. But even if they don't answer affirmatively but they continue not to use the benefits of their subscription, Microsoft will stop taking their money. If Microsoft bans anyone's account, they will allow that account to stop paying Microsoft. (That's something that, for example, Google apparently currently does not do, in that if Google bans you and you're paying them a subscription, you have to be unbanned to turn it off. ...Though it seems like that's misinformation coming from Google. Not sure why they'd lie and say they are doing fraud even though they really aren't?)

As for Sony, Sony will also do similar things to Microsoft around customers who keep paying for a PlayStation Plus subscription but aren't using it. They'll reach out within two months from now if they haven't used PlayStation Plus for 12 or more consecutive months and are automatically renewing and paying for it. Nintendo no longer sells auto renewal as the default option for Nintendo Switch Online.

None of the companies have admitted that they breached any law, and the CMA says only a court can decide that. The three companies are committing to voluntary action without involving a court. (Good thing too, because the lawyer they had got disbarred.) This all applies to the United Kingdom, but if the companies want to be good corporations and have some efficiency regarding doing the same practices everywhere, then this should apply worldwide.

Anyway, I'm very much in favour of eliminating these predatory practices and making things more clear to customers. I'll let you know what happens the next time I need to renew Nintendo Switch Online... and remember... just because these auto-renewal practices were the console industry standard did NOT make them right. And now all three companies had to change as a result. I'd like this to be more widely applied across other industries too.

Ludwig isn't supposed to be for government regulation or bullying, but look at how pleased he is that such a thing happened. What happened to him? Is he turning into a big government socialist or something? Provide your own opinions in the comments section!

Even things like meal preparation subscriptions are auto-renewing. Sheesh.
The CMA takes a villainous turn as it prevents a big Microsoft acquisition.


  1. I have subscriptions to iCloud 50GB storage and Apple Music. I can tell you some stuff about how they handle subscriptions:

    1. Apple does not ban iCloud accounts.

    2. Apple lets you cancel any subscription you have at any time but still lets you use the services and/or features of that subscription until the next renewal period where you lose all access to that subscription entirely.

    1. Those terms are apparently because of an earlier CMA investigation:

  2. I find it a little funny that Nintendo's way of being predatory was basically gone into beginning, middle, and end, by a single sentence in this article. Really drives home that at *worst* they are the lesser evil of AAA game companies right now.

    1. If there WAS more detail with Nintendo, I'd give it. But all we got was that one sentence from the CMA, so all I got for you is one sentence too!


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