PlayStation is Blocking Xbox Growth in Japan Through “Anti-Competitive” Exclusivity Deals, US Congress Members Say

"The Japanese government’s effective policy of non-prosecution when it comes to Sony appears to be a serious barrier to U.S. exports," they say.

Posted By | On 28th, Mar. 2023

Final Fantasy 16

Whether or not Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard will raise concerns over competition, especially where Sony is concerned, is a question that’s being investigated by a number of regulatory bodies around the world, but as it turns out, members of Congress in the United States are now calling for an investigation into Sony’s practices specifically in Japan.

As reported by Axios, 11 members of Congress have called for an investigation into Sony’s tendency to secure popular exclusives from Japanese game developers for PlayStation, preventing them from releasing on Xbox consoles. Four letters have been published to that end, one of which – signed by four Republicans – says, “Today, we write to bring to your attention the imbalanced Japanese video game market, which we are concerned may be a result of a discriminatory trade practice that could violate the spirit of the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement.”

It’s argued that PlayStation has 98% of the marketshare in Japan’s “high-end” console market (which does not account for Nintendo), and that the deals that Sony signs for Japanese exclusives – such as the upcoming Final Fantasy 16 – “may violate Japan’s antitrust laws.”

“The Japanese government’s effective policy of non-prosecution when it comes to Sony appears to be a serious barrier to U.S. exports, with real impacts for Microsoft and the many U.S. game developers and publishers that sell globally but see their earnings in Japan depressed by these practices,” the letter reads.

Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy says, “Sony’s anti-competitive tactics deserve discussion, and we welcome further investigation to ensure a level playing field in the video game industry.”

It’s worth noting that though the purported “high-end” console market is dominated by Sony, it does not include Nintendo hardware sales, which eclipse both Sony and Microsoft by a significant margin. Meanwhile, in recent years, a number of Japanese titles that were previously exclusive to PlayStation have also made the jump to Xbox, including the likes of Persona, Yakuza, Dragon Quest, and more.

In related news, Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is moving closer to being approved by regulatory bodies, with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority recently having said that the deal will not harm competition in gaming should it be approved.


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