According to a Lawyer, the Price of “Horizon Forbidden West” Could Be Considered Deceptive

According to Hoeg Law attorney Richard Hoeg, the promotion for “Horizon Forbidden West’s” pricing point could be viewed as fraudulent, perhaps leading to a class-action lawsuit. When Sony and developer Guerrilla Games unveiled “Horizon Forbidden West” during the PS5 reveal event in June 2020, many expected it would be a PS5 exclusive. However, the publisher eventually clarified the game’s status as a cross-gen project, promising free upgrades for all cross-gen PS5 launch and launch window titles.

Things didn’t get hot until Sony revealed the several special versions of Horizon Forbidden West, confirming that PS4 owners who later purchased a PS5 would not be eligible for a free current-gen upgrade. Following widespread criticism from fans and the gaming press, Sony reversed its decision, guaranteeing a free Forbidden West upgrade to all PS4 owners. As a result, even PS5 owners would be wise to buy the PS4 version of the highly anticipated sequel to save $10. Sony, on the other hand, does not appear to be interested in notifying the general public about this pricing anomaly.

Attorney Richard Hoeg lambasts Sony’s marketing strategies for “Horizon Forbidden West” in an episode of Virtual Legality for the Hoeg Law YouTube channel (via VGC), notably singling out some of the company’s dishonest pricing-related tactics. For example, according to a FAQ on a PlayStation support page, Forbidden West does not have a “Dual Entitlement” option, which allows PS4 users to upgrade to the PS5 build for free. This is completely untrue. Hoeg also bemoaned the fact that searching for Forbidden West on the PlayStation Store only yields the $70+ PS5 editions, with no opportunity to purchase the $60 PS4 version, which, once again, includes a free upgrade for current-gen hardware. Those who want to use “Dual Entitlement” must do so through the PlayStation Store’s website, app, or PS4 version.

Because Sony appears to purposely conceal information from its customer base, particularly those who aren’t in the know, the Dual Entitlement conundrum could present grounds for a class-action lawsuit, according to the rear half of Hoeg’s pricing-related Horizon Forbidden West episode. Of course, what appears to be unfair or deceptive in the eyes of the beholder is ultimately subjective. As a result, Hoeg told VGC that he can’t “promise that a regulator like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or a judge” will feel compelled to move against Sony.

As history has shown, class-action lawsuits involving marketing and the like in the gaming industry can end in a variety of ways. For example, a false advertising lawsuit filed against Hello Games, the developer of No Man’s Sky, was dismissed. In the meantime, investor claims against Cyberpunk 2077’s CDPR were settled. It could be some time before we learn if anyone decides to sue Sony over the “Horizon Forbidden West” glitch.