Microsoft has claimed that Sony pays developers for “blocking rights” to keep their games off Xbox Game Pass.
As part of an ongoing investigation into Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition by the Brazilian government, several of the major players in the games industry have been having their say on Microsoft’s business practices and the potential repercussions of the $70 billion deal.
It’s through this process that Sony recently revealed its true thoughts on the acquisition, including its fears that exclusive Xbox access to the CoD franchise will damage PS5 sales.
Now Microsoft has hit back, issuing a 27-page response that claims (via Google translation) “the use of exclusive arrangements has been at the heart of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the gaming industry”.
It also claims that “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.” What form these “blocking rights” take is unclear. While it sounds quite extreme, it could merely amount to a degree of exclusivity when publishing or otherwise supporting the launch of third party games, which is hardly unusual.
Microsoft claims that Sony’s real objection is to the introduction of Game Pass to “compete more effectively with the buy-to-play model” that was “adopted quite successfully by Sony”. “Sony doesn’t want subscription services threatening their dominance in the market for digital distribution of console games,” it claims
It’s also points out that, of all of the parties questioned as part of this investigation, Sony has been the only one to raise objections that the CoD series was without rival and a system seller in its own right.