Xbox Alleges Sony Is Paying Developers to Keep Their Games off Game Pass

Microsoft claims that Sony may be paying game devs to refuse to add their games to Xbox Game Pass, firing back against acquisition criticisms.

As Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is nearing its completion, the company is obligated to convince a variety of worldwide governments that Xbox taking over Candy Crush, Diablo, and Call of Duty is not, in fact, an example of antitrust behavior. The documents that Microsoft is sending over to relevant governing bodies to facilitate this acquisition have proven to be particularly intriguing.

The latest example of Microsoft making curious and surprisingly striking commentary on the state of the industry comes from its submission to the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE). Justifying Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the document claims that Sony is participating in blocking titles from launching on Game Pass by paying developers off.


Microsoft’s letter to CADE doesn’t mince words. “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass,” claims the document. Though portions of it have been redacted for probable confidentiality, the gist of the argument is that Sony may be paying game devs specifically not to feature their games on Xbox’s subscription service. Many consider the renewed PS Plus to still be inferior to Xbox Game Pass, and Microsoft is suggesting that one of the ways in which Sony is stifling the growth of Xbox is by “bribing” developers to keep away from it.

The CADE letter was presumably sent out alongside Microsoft’s report to the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, where it stated that Activision Blizzard games aren’t must-have titles. This was spurred by Sony’s claims that Call of Duty, specifically, is an unrivaled blockbuster that effectively shouldn’t be owned by a first-party console manufacturer. At the same time, it’s worth pointing out, Microsoft has explained that it would make no sense to limit COD to just one console platform and that it won’t be leaving its PlayStation fans hanging out to dry.

Unsurprisingly, this is just a small part of the ongoing tug of war between Microsoft and Sony. As of late, Microsoft has pushed back against Sony’s acquisition concerns with a concerted effort, and it’s clear that the software company is doing everything it can to appear as non-threatening and benign in the gaming arena as possible. At the same time, Sony is attempting to paint this acquisition as anti-competitive behavior, and it’s not yet clear which side the legislators may lean towards.

It’s not difficult to understand where Sony is coming from, of course. Xbox now controls two classic PlayStation IPs among a multitude of others that are all fairly well established across the entire spectrum of gaming consoles. The main concern is bound to be that Xbox might pull the plug on supporting PlayStation over a long period of time, which would certainly not be unprecedented.

Source: Government of Brazil

Source: Gamerant

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