As Microsoft seeks regulatory approval for its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company is providing details of its Xbox division to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). On the other side of the fence is Sony and its PlayStation brand. Sony is trying to shut down the merger and has given its own statements to the CMA.
Sony's contention to the deal rests on Microsoft taking control of major franchises – most notably Call of Duty but also Warcraft and Candy Crush – and making them exclusive to Xbox Game Pass. This concern is shared by regulators such as the CMA, European Commission, and the FTC in the United States.
Microsoft has consistently said it has no intention of making the Activision Blizzard franchises exclusive to Xbox.
Plenty of revelations have emerged, and the latest shows that Microsoft and Sony have previously thought about allowing each other's services on their platforms. Sony says that the companies have discussed allowing Xbox Game Pass on PlayStation and PS Plus on Xbox.
However, in a statement to the CMA, Sony points to how Microsoft responded to these talks:
“Microsoft's stance that Game Pass availability on PlayStation would be a panacea for the harm from this Transaction rings particularly hollow given that Microsoft does not permit PlayStation Plus to be available on Xbox,” Sony says in its statement.
Microsoft also discusses these proposals and says Sony directly blocked the idea of Game Pass running on PlayStation consoles:
“Nor is there any basis for the idea that acquiring Call of Duty could ‘tip' subscription services in Xbox's favour. Sony has chosen to block Game Pass from PlayStation, so it is not available on PlayStation,” Microsoft's statement reads. “As all games that are available on Game Pass are also available to purchase, PlayStation gamers will continue to have the ability to buy Call of Duty on PlayStation. And doing so will still cost less than the cost of switching by buying a new Xbox console.”
From the filings last week, we have also learned Sony plans to launch the PlayStation 6 in 2027, and that Microsoft thinks Sony has better exclusives than Xbox. Furthermore, Sony says Call of Duty is irreplaceable, even by other triple A shooter games like Battlefield.
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