Microsoft Accuses Sony Of Dirty Tactics To Keep Games Off Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft is trying to buy Activision-Blizzard in what would be the largest game developer acquisition to date. The merger would give Microsoft control over an enormous swath of the "core" game demographic, at least from a Western perspective. The process has entered regulatory review, which invites competitors and other industry figures to comment on the sale. Naturally, competitor Sony is strongly opposed to the merger, but Microsoft has its own choice words to say about Sony's objections.
Sony's argument primarily comes down to Microsoft gaining control of Activision's "Call of Duty" franchise. While its popularity has fallen off a bit since its glory days, Call of Duty is still an enormous titan of the gaming industry. Sony says that Call of Duty is an "essential" franchise, and that one platform-holder gaining control of the property would imbalance the industry and lead to unfair competition.
Well, Microsoft points out that Sony's entire marketing strategy when it comes to its PlayStation brand is based around exclusive games—an area where, as hardcore gamers well know, Microsoft has long been lacking. Even beyond that, though, Microsoft notes that the Activision purchase won't make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox platforms, as the company has already committed to continuing further CoD releases on PlayStation.
Microsoft purportedly goes on to state that Sony pays for "blocking rights" to "prevent developers form adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services." If true, this is certainly pretty poor behavior; it smacks of the Epic Games Store's unsavory exclusivity tactics that it has used while trying to wedge itself into the PC space.
Make no mistake: Microsoft's ultimate goal is to get every gamer on Game Pass. Your author here is opposed to "games as a service" on principle, and that makes it difficult to empathize with Microsoft's viewpoint. Still, it's also hard to agree with Sony's argument that "Call of Duty" is a "game category in itself." While Call of Duty is a major franchise, Sony has plenty of major franchises of its own that are exclusive to its platform.
Thanks to WCCFTech for the translated remarks.