Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft were all recently investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK for the practices surrounding each company’s auto-renewal functionality being enabled after a customer would purchase a subscription to their respective online services. The case was closed on April 9, 2022, after being started a full three years ago back in April 2019.
With this case now concluded, the CMA has noted that both Nintendo and Sony have made improvements to their online systems to cooperate with the Authority’s findings. The report from the CMA sites that Sony has “put in place measures to protect their PlayStation Plus customers who haven’t used their memberships for a long time but are still paying.” As for Nintendo, the CMA notes that the company has “changed its business practices” by disabling auto-renewal at the time of a subscription purchase for Nintendo Switch Online. That means customers must manually enable the feature by digging into their subscription details via the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Microsoft already made changes back in January 2022 that involves the company being more “transparent” to its customers about their subscription membership, including prompts that auto-renewal is activated and the associated costs.
Microsoft also now notifies customers before an annual subscription is up that they have the option to cancel and “claim a pro-rata refund”. Inactive annual subscriptions will also be notified so they don’t keep paying by simply forgetting.
Software subscriptions have become a normal part of society. Whether it’s for entertainment, like music and movies, or services like office and creative programs, it’s becoming more and more commonplace to subscribe to gain access to content rather than buying it outright.
As this tactic has taken over, companies have become a little sneaky with ways to try and lure customers into paying, and never stopping.
One part of this strategy is immediately enabling the auto-renewal function for the subscription (even if it’s only a free trial period), hoping that the customer would simply forget until it’s too late.
This shows why the CMA intervened, and now all of the major players in the console industry have decided to follow suit. Certain policies could use some more tweaking, however. Such as how Nintendo is still not as keen to give refunds as Microsoft is.
Source: Nintendo Life