In a lengthy document submitted to the Brazilian government as part of its investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft claimed that Sony is paying developers “ban rights” to prevent games from appearing on Xbox Game Pass.
The accusation appears on 27 pages that have been rebutted by Sony Recent Objections to the acquisition of Activision Blizzard from Microsoft, which was made before the Brazilian Administrative Council for Defense Economics (CADE) as part of its investigation. Much of Sony’s argument focused on Call of Duty – which it claimed “has no competitor” and was “so popular that it influences users’ choice of console” – that the PlayStation maker suggested, among other things, that the inclusion of Call of Work would lead to a service Game Pass from Microsoft to hamper their ability to compete.
Microsoft’s response has been as broad as Sony’s initial objections, touching on everything from the fact that it previously managed to develop Game Pass without Activision Blizzard titles – suggesting Call of Duty might not be quite as “core” as Sony claims – to re-release Confirming its assertions that it will not make Call of Duty an Xbox console exclusive.
Here Microsoft makes a swipe at Sony, noting (according to a Google translated version of its file) that despite all of its concerns about exclusivity, “the use of exclusive arrangements has been at the heart of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry.”
Microsoft says Sony’s concerns are “incoherent,” given that, by virtue of its dominant PlayStation market share, the company is a leader in digital game distribution — especially when, Microsoft claims, Sony actively stymied Game Pass’s growth by pushing for a “rights ban” To prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”
Ultimately, Microsoft argues, Sony’s fear is not that an acquisition will hamper its competitiveness, but that Game Pass’s business model of delivering “high-quality content at low costs to players” will threaten market leadership “a counterfeit device – a strategy focused on exclusivity.”
The complete document It has a lot in the way of refuting Sony’s claims (including Microsoft’s note that of all the major players in the industry called up by the Brazilian government upon the acquisition, Sony was the only one that contested it) and is well worth a read.
Expect more back and forth as the acquisition is subject to more scrutiny from other countries before any regulatory approval. Assuming that the purchase of Microsoft Activision Blizzard does not fall into the fault of the regulators, the process is expected to be completed by next summer.
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