US Senator Makes Unexpected Comment About Sony’s Monopoly in Video Games

US Senator Maria Cantwell recently criticized Sony’s monopolistic behavior in the “high-end” video game market, presumably as opposed to one of its main competitors, Microsoft. The statement comes at a time when the ongoing battle over the Activision Blizzard acquisition passes the year mark, as government authorities have persistently scrutinized the publishing giant’s deal with Microsoft.


There’s little question that Sony is a leader in many areas of the gaming industry, and even Microsoft has admitted that PS5 has more exclusives than Xbox, and better ones at that. The Japanese company has also reported higher revenue in the gaming space than both Microsoft and Nintendo in recent years, though US console sales comparisons show the three current-gen systems – Series X, Series S, and PS5 — are much closer than many expected.

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On March 23, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s 2023 trade policy agenda, US Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell criticized Sony for some of its behavior in Japan. “I’m told that Sony controls a monopoly of 98% of the high-end game market,” the senator said, pointing out that the Japanese government has permitted the company to “engage in anti-competitive conduct through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers.” Cantwell also stated that Japan’s FTC has “failed to investigate these exclusionary conducts.”

While some of this may be true — Microsoft has accused Sony of paying off publishers to keep releases off Xbox Game Pass, for example — the 98% number does raise questions. Presumably, it is only comparing Xbox and PlayStation market share in Japan, ignoring PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile platforms. But one has to take into consideration that Sony is on home turf in Japan and therefore has enjoyed a higher adoption rate than Microsoft’s consoles, and a low adoption rate doesn’t equate to intentionally monopolistic behavior.

Gameranx has noted that Senator Cantwell’s comments closely echo the words of an article recently published by attorney Curt Levey, who states that Sony “controls more than 95% of the Japanese market for high-end consoles.” Levey accuses Sony of rewarding game publishers for eschewing Microsoft’s consoles, while the Japanese FTC ignores these antitrust violations.

Some have posited that perhaps, rather than speaking about the entire video game market in Japan, Cantwell was referring specifically to the upcoming PS5 exclusive Final Fantasy 16, though that would be a 100% monopoly and not 98%. Either way, the comment is particularly notable because Senator Cantwell asked US Trade Representative Katherine Tai what she planned to do to address Sony’s anti-competitive conduct in Japan. And if the senator’s question leads to a deeper investigation, it could feasibly result in another point scored for Microsoft in its continuing attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Sources: RealClearMarkets (via Gameranx), Resetera

Source: Gamerant

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