Xbox accuses PlayStation of paying publishers to keep games off Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass collage
Is Sony paying to keep games off Game Pass? (pic: Microsoft)

Microsoft has claimed that Sony is paying games companies ‘blocking rights’ to stop them from putting their games on Xbox Game Pass.

Although there seems little chance that it will be stopped, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has not yet gone through and currently various government agencies around the world are investigating whether it would create unfair competition, but in the latest twist it’s Microsoft who claims they’re the ones that have been treated unfairly.

The investigation in Brazil has already thrown up some interesting comments, with Sony claiming that the acquisition would lose them customers, while in New Zealand Microsoft made the peculiar claim that Call Of Duty is ‘nothing unique’ and not a ‘must have’ game.

The latest bombshell though, again from the Brazilian investigation, involves the accusation from Microsoft that Sony is paying ‘blocking rights’ to publishers to ensure they don’t put their games on Game Pass.

The accusation is a direct rebuttal of Sony’s suggestion that Microsoft owning Call Of Duty would influence gamers’ choice of console and that it has ‘no rival’ in terms of popularity. Sony argued that even if it doesn’t become an exclusive (which is what Microsoft has promised) having it on Game Pass would make it difficult for PlayStation to compete with Xbox.

Microsoft’s response to this, in an official document via Google Translate, points out that ‘exclusive arrangements has been at the heart of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the gaming industry’.

It then goes on to describe Sony’s comments as ‘incoherent’ and points out that other publishers, who were also asked to take part in the investigation, don’t have a problem with the acquisition – only Sony.

Then comes the accusation of Sony paying ‘blocking rights’ to stop companies from putting their games on Game Pass and other non-PlayStation subscription services.

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In other words, Microsoft claims Sony pays publishers to keep games off Game Pass. Microsoft offers no proof of this, and there’s no example of which games exactly, but considering this is a legal investigation you’d imagine they wouldn’t want to be just making things up off the top of their head.

Microsoft doesn’t stop there but goes on to argue that what Sony’s really worried about is that the acquisition, and the strengthening of Game Pass, threatens PlayStation market leadership, which is primarily based on console exclusivity.


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