For their part, Microsoft and Sony will not stop sending each other peaks by interposed statement or through marketing operations, such as the famous Xbox 360 barge which was sent by Microsoft on the evening of the launch of the PS3 in France and which is passed quietly in front of the famous PlayStation evening.
The climax is undoubtedly reached during E3 2013, in preparation for the presentations of the Xbox One and the PS4 with an intense exchange between the two manufacturers which will lean in favor of Sony.
The PS4/Xbox One generation and the arrival of Phil Spencer, the new Xbox boss, have calmed things down and eased tensions in order to move towards a healthier gaming industry. The two firms have made a change in mentality, to unite players rather than confront them, although in 2022, a handful of gamers are still struggling to evolve and remain stuck in this childish war that serves the gaming industry. video.
And recent events may not help matters. Indeed, for the first time in many years, new tensions are emerging between Sony and Microsoft regarding the Game Pass and the takeover of Activision/Blizzard.
Sony ready to pay to counter the Game Pass?
Do we really need to introduce you to Xbox Game Pass? This exceptional service from Microsoft, launched in June 2017, has now become an essential, arguably the best offer on the market today. Many publishers therefore wanted to imitate the Game Pass with services that have multiplied (EA Play, Ubisoft+, etc.). Recently, it was Sony that completely overhauled its PlayStation Plus to offer a service that is closer and closer to the unique Game Pass model.
Recently, these are documents that have surfaced on the site of the Brazilian CADE allowing us to discover some exchanges between Sony and Microsoft concerning a first discord. This concerns the Game Pass, deemed “unstoppable” by PlayStation. For its part, Xbox defends itself by evoking PlayStation Plus and in turn accuses Sony, explaining that its competitor is using methods that are not very fair play to try to counter the progress of Game Pass. According to the Redmond company, PlayStation would make agreements with third-party publishers to prevent them from adding content and games to the Game Pass.
Microsoft’s ability to continue Game Pass expansion has been hampered by Sony’s desire to curb that growth. Sony pays “blocking fees” to prevent developers from adding content and games to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.
For Microsoft, Sony does not see very favorably the rise of its Game Pass, totaling more than 26 million subscribers to date. According to the American company, PlayStation does not agree to deal with PlayStation Plus (which has more than 45 million subscribers). Sony does not want to make its service as attractive as the Game Pass and that is why the Japanese firm is trying to counter the rise of Microsoft’s service.
Sony’s isolated position is likely due to the fact that the Xbox Game Pass offer was launched as a competitive response to the “console wars” and the need to offer gamers added value to the “buy -to-play”. In this way, the Game Pass threatens to effectively compete with the “buy-to-play” model successfully adopted by Sony.
According to Microsoft, Sony is particularly aware of being the leader (on a global scale) when it comes to the sale of physical, but above all digital, video games. And it is for this reason that the Japanese manufacturer is “outraged” to see this new offer compete.
Sony is outraged at having to compete with Microsoft’s Game Pass. Sony’s statements on subscription games are clear: Sony doesn’t want attractive subscription services to threaten its dominance in the market for selling digital console games. Clearly, Sony opposes new economic models that could challenge its own.
Still according to Microsoft, this will of Sony to absolutely want to counter the Game Pass would concern the acquisition of Activision and more particularly the Call of Duty license. The arrival of the latter in Microsoft’s service would be a disaster that could greatly upset the game’s sales on PlayStation consoles.
The inclusion of Activision Blizzard games in the Game Pass does not harm the competitiveness of other consoles, but on the contrary increases competition in the games sector… much to the chagrin of Sony.
Thus, the acquisition of Activision / Blizzard by Sony, also becomes problematic between the two manufacturers.
The acquisition of Activision, an unfair operation of Microsoft?
Also in the pages on the Brazilian CADE site, we learn that Sony fiercely opposed the takeover of Activision/Blizzard by Microsoft. For several weeks, Microsoft has been seeking authorization from various regulatory bodies around the world (Ubisoft, Riot Games, Google, etc.) to validate the acquisition of Activision/Blizzard. If for the moment, no one opposes this transaction, Sony is trying to resist.
According to PlayStation, the acquisition of Activision/Blizzard by Microsoft would be a point of no return in the video game industry which would have two important consequences: the inclusion of all Activision/Blizzard games in Game Pass from the day of their exit. And the Call of Duty license which would become indispensable on PlayStation consoles.
For its part, Microsoft defends itself and confirms that the Call of Duty series will not become an Xbox exclusive. Players will simply have the choice of choosing their payment model to access the games. Whether through a subscription system (Game Pass) or by paying for their game individually, excluding subscription on Xbox and PlayStation.
Players will still be able to choose their preferred payment model for accessing Activision games […] The strategy of keeping Activision Blizzard games on Xbox would not be profitable for Microsoft. It would only be if Activision Blizzard’s games could attract enough players into the Xbox ecosystem and Microsoft could make enough revenue to make up for the losses.
To counter Sony’s remarks, Microsoft claims that the Call of Duty license is not so essential. The American company does not hesitate to make it clear that the words of PlayStation are exaggerated.
The claim that Call of Duty is “a separate market” doesn’t hold water. […] Sony radically claims that there is ONLY one game franchise [Call of Duty] is essential to its existence as a viable distributor of digital games. However, the low proportion of consumer income and expenditure [chiffres censurés] is well below the threshold at which Call of Duty could be considered capable of impacting PlayStation’s competitiveness.
In other words, according to Microsoft, Sony does not want to evolve and adapt to new trends and for this reason PlayStation is against these changes. It only remains to wait for the response of the Japanese manufacturer.