The war of words that began in the last fortnight between both Sony and Microsoft over the Activision acquisition and the concerns raised by PlayStation Brazil over the far-reaching impacts of the purchase has taken another turn today as the buyer, Microsoft, has taken a pot-shot over the bow at Sony. As a part of the Brazilian process required for the transaction to take place, paperwork has been submitted to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) to explain the reasoning for the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, but it has revealed an accusation from Xbox that PlayStation is attempting to “inhibit growth” of Game Pass by trying to stifle content from appearing on it.
If we think about this generation so far and the exclusives from second and third-party studios that include games such as Final Fantasy VII Remake and its sequel Final Fantasy VII Rebirth as well as Kena: Bridge Of Spirits, Stray, and many more, they seem to be enjoying prolonged periods of exclusivity, well beyond the norm. Perhaps this commentary from Xbox provides us a reason why these longer periods of exclusivity are occurring on one side of the fence. The comments themselves stem from a Microsoft response to Sony’s claims that Xbox’s acquisition of Call of Duty specifically would be “anti-competitive”.
In a rather pointed comment, Xbox representatives declared “Considering that exclusivity strategies have been at the core of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry and that Sony is a leader in the distribution of digital games, Sony’s concern with possible exclusivity of Activision‘s content is incoherent, to say the least.”
“It only reveals, once again, a fear about an innovative business model that offers high-quality content at low costs to gamers, threatening a leadership that has been forged from a device-centric and exclusivity-focused strategy over the years. Indeed, Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been obstructed by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth. Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”
Of course, exclusivity deals are commonplace, with both console manufacturers having regularly engaged in the practice over the years resulting in the aforementioned exclusives on the PlayStation side, and titles such as Gears of War 1-3 on the Xbox side during the Xbox 360 era before it was purchased outright by Microsoft, before building further to become one of the company’s biggest hitters.
While the proverbial mud-slinging continues between the pair, due to Brazilian governmental processes in the realm of acquisitions, this information will continue to become public knowledge, so it will be interesting to see what Sony, Microsoft, or any other affected parties will have to say before a final verdict on this transaction is made in the future.