Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is currently being vetted for approval by different regulatory bodies across the world. Recently, Brazil’s regulatory body made all documents for the review process available online, which includes responses from third parties like Sony, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. and more about various topics. One such topic is Game Pass, Xbox’s subscription service that has over 25 million subscribers as of January 2022.
Sony’s response is interesting (as spotted by ResetEra). It felt that subscription services were competing with titles that must be purchased for a one-time fee. However, it said that the low upfront cost of subscription services may be “anti-competitive” regarding publishers that require selling titles to recoup investments on titles. It also felt that this could result in the lower quality of games, harming customers as well.
While this may sound like Sony is criticizing Game Pass in particular, it’s not a particularly new opinion from the company. Following the announcement of the revamped PlayStation Plus, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki commented, “AAA type titles on PS5, if we distribute that on the subscription services we may need to shrink the investment needed for that and that will deteriorate the 1st party title quality and that is our concern.”
Continuing with its response, Sony said that Game Pass had captured “approximately 60-70 percent” of the global market for subscription services over the past five years. The market share in Brazil is reportedly even higher with 70-80 percent of PC subscription services comprised of Game Pass. Sony believed creating a rival to Microsoft’s subscription service, even with “substantial investments”, would require several years for a competitor.
Sony’s first-party success has been fairly strong since the PS5’s launch, but it clearly views Game Pass as a big threat. It remains to be seen how the service will evolve if the acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved. But at the very least, Sony is intent on Call of Duty’s availability on PlayStation consoles, especially given its “unrivaled” popularity.