A nice console war riot every now and then is always welcome. The hassle surrounding Activision now appears to be coming to an end.
First of all, we can’t verify this for sure, so we don’t know if it’s all true. But it seems to be a legit story. What is it about?
While it seems unlikely that the Activision Blizzard acquisition will be blocked, it has not yet gone through and several government agencies around the world are currently investigating whether unfair competition exists, but in the latest twist it is Microsoft that claims they are the ones who have been treated unfairly.
An investigation in Brazil has already yielded some interesting comments, with Sony claiming the acquisition would cost them customers, while Microsoft in New Zealand making the claim that Call Of Duty is “nothing unique” and not a “must have” game.
But now it escalates nicely. Because the last bomb that has now been dropped consists of the accusation by Microsoft that Sony pays ‘blocking rights’ to publishers to ensure that they do not put their games on Game Pass.
The charge is a direct rebuttal to Sony’s suggestion that Microsoft’s ownership of Call Of Duty would influence gamers’ choice of console and that Call Of Duty has “no rival” in popularity. Something that is, of course, totally cool. There is a line of games that compete with CoD.
It gets even more beautiful. Sony claims that even if it doesn’t become an exclusive game (which Microsoft has promised), having Call Of Duty on Game Pass would make it difficult for PlayStation to compete with Xbox. Am I smelling some thin poop running through Japanese pants somewhere?
Microsoft’s response to this, in an official document that we just translated from Portuguese via DeepL, sent by Matheus Nasaret (lawyer in the Antitrust practice of Tauil & Checker Advogados in Brasília).
It shows that “exclusive arrangements are at the heart of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the gaming industry”. Something that we mainly know Sony from and a strategy that Microsoft has now successfully adopted. Let’s be honest, PlayStation owes its success in large part to very good and exclusive games. So now to complain to the government that Microsoft is cheating because they might get Call of Duty as an exclusive title is kind of hypocritical.
Further in the email, Sony’s comments are labeled “disjointed” and pointed out that other publishers, who were also asked to participate in the investigation, have no problem with the acquisition – only Sony. In other words, Sony is once again thrashing around in the wild to hold onto their power. But it gets even more beautiful. Then comes the charge that Sony pays “blocking fees” to prevent companies from putting their games on Game Pass and other non-PlayStation subscription services.
In other words, Microsoft claims that Sony pays publishers to keep games from Game Pass. Microsoft offers no proof of this and there is no example of which games exactly, but since this is a legal investigation you could imagine that they are not just making something up. We are very curious where the source of this accusation comes from and what it exactly means. Did a publisher whisper something to Microsoft?
Microsoft won’t stop there and goes on to say that Sony is really concerned that the acquisition and strengthening of Game Pass poses a threat to PlayStation’s market leadership, which is primarily based on console exclusivity. And that’s the truth like a cow. Clearly a case of ‘whoever bounces the ball can expect it back’. We are closely monitoring this riot.