The console war continues to be talked about, but this time the battle has moved to Microsoft and Sony’s game catalog. The first accuses the second of blocking the arrival of certain games on the Game Pass.
The acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is not easy. This merger of two video game behemoths naturally attracts the attention of competition authorities around the world. The review of the Brazilian Economic Defense Administrative Council (CADE) also teaches us a lot about the risks that this takeover may present, especially for Sony, which would not be very fair play in this case.
A “right to block” imposed by Sony
In a long 27-page document (entirely written in Portuguese), we actually learn that Microsoft accuses Sony of establishing a “right to block” on certain games so that they do not end up in the Game Pass program. “Microsoft’s ability to continue Game Pass expansion has been hampered by Sony’s desire to curb that growth”regrets the manufacturer of Xbox in its plea.
That said, it may well be that this famous “right to block” was introduced without malice on the part of Sony. The Japanese company was indeed able to sign exclusive contracts (even before the announcement of the Microsoft/Blizzard takeover) to expand its catalog and make the public want to buy PlayStation 5 rather than Xbox Series X. of these exclusive contracts had also been partly revealed during the famous lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple last year.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Sony has negotiated questionable terms on its platform. In 2021, we learned, for example, that the company had agreed to open its console to cross-play, but under certain conditions. As our colleagues from Gamekult then explained, a clause in the contract required game publishers to pay a fee to Sony if “the ratio between game time spent on PlayStation is disproportionate to the revenue generated by that same game on PlayStation”. This ambiguous position of Sony has not escaped Microsoft, which specifies to the Brazilian authority that “exclusivity strategies have been central to Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry”.
Two visions of the video game industry
It must be said that the Japanese manufacturer is quite legitimately worried about this potential takeover. According to the company, it is almost impossible to compete with a franchise such as call of dutywhich over the years has become “a game category in its own right”, says the firm. Unfounded concerns according to Microsoft which, “for simple economic reasons”does not see itself in any case stopping the marketing of call of duty on Playstation. The manufacturer seems to think that depriving itself of the revenue generated by other platforms would not be “not profitable”as the shortfall would not be balanced by operating the game on Game Pass only.
This lawsuit highlights the very different visions that Sony and Microsoft may have of the video game industry. The first believes that healthy and balanced competition, with exclusive games as a commercial argument, is good for the sector, while the second seeks to distribute all the games in its catalog as widely as possible in order to become essential in the video game world.