Earlier today, I reported on Microsoft hitting back against Sony over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Specifically, the company wrote to Brazilian regulator CADE in defense of the deal. Plenty of juicy information was in the document, but perhaps most startling is Microsoft's accusation that Sony pays developers to have exclusives that will not appear on Xbox Game Pass.
“Microsoft's ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony's desire to inhibit such growth,” suggests Microsoft filing to the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE). “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights' to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”
Microsoft's accusation is that Sony essentially pays third-party developers to make games exclusive on PlayStation. On paper this sounds extremely nefarious and Sony is essentially paying to create less competition.
However, Microsoft does not elaborate enough to clear up what exactly its suggestions mean. Sony could be simply paying developers to have exclusive content on its streaming service. This is nothing new in the streaming industry. The company may also be exercising publishing contracts that state games cannot appear on another service.
It will be interesting to see how Sony responds to this statement, or if Microsoft seeks to add more clarification.
Other Mic Drops
Microsoft's statement to CADE is interesting in other areas. For example, it confirms officially that the PS4 destroyed the Xbox One during the last generation in terms of sales. Microsoft never releases official sales figures. It was widely known the PS4 was the best-selling console, but the gap has been open to debate.
In the document, Microsoft says the PS4 sold twice as many units as the Xbox One. Sony does release sales figures and we know the PS4 sold 117.2 million consoles. From Microsoft's statement, we can assume the Xbox One sold around 50-60 million units. Most estimates have been in that ballpark, but Microsoft seems to be confirming it here.
Sony's main concern over the acquisition of Activision Blizzard is that Microsoft will make franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, and Warcraft exclusive to Game Pass. In the filing, Microsoft continues to insist that will not happen. In fact, the company says it would be losing a chunk of money if it kept a franchise like Call of Duty off PlayStation, saying it “wouldn't be profitable.”
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