As part of its response to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Sony has argued that Microsoft made Starfield and future The Elder Scrolls releases exclusive to Xbox after its acquisition of ZeniMax. According to MP1st, Sony made the statement as part of its arguments that Microsoft’s claims of keeping future releases multiplatform are not relevant to the current situation with its impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“First, Microsoft argues that “its past business practices are consistent with its stated position” that it does not intend to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation (or degrade access to it),” said Sony in its statement. “This is difficult to square with what has actually happened. The CMA “reviewed Microsoft’s strategy following its previous acquisitions” and found that Microsoft “typically makes games exclusive to Xbox”. Microsoft has never disputed this.”
“Microsoft is fond of arguing that, with its prior acquisitions, it did not make the existing, already released games it acquired exclusive to Xbox. But the foreclosure concern in this case is not about past releases of Call of Duty. It is about the impact of Microsoft making new Call of Duty releases (which are launched every year) exclusive, as it has done for the new releases of Starfield and Elder Scrolls following the acquisition of ZeniMax in 2021. As the PFs explain, these releases were announced in 2018 and were not expected at that time to be Xbox exclusives. It was only after acquiring ZeniMax that Microsoft’s Phil Spencer revealed that, all along, the deal had been about “delivering great exclusive games” for Xbox.”
“Second, Microsoft points to Minecraft as an example of an acquisition where it did not pursue exclusivity. But this example is not relevant to an exclusivity strategy regarding future releases of Call of Duty. Minecraft is a single release game that is already in users’ hands: unlike Call of Duty, there are no future releases of Minecraft. The CMA correctly points out that Minecraft’s ‘legacy monetisation model of a one-time fee for lifetime access and updates…differs significantly from Call of Duty, where users buy the new premium iteration of the game every year for a higher fee.’ SIE therefore agrees with the PFs that the more relevant indicator of Microsoft’s intentions on exclusivity for Call of Duty is the ZeniMax deal.”
Sony in a recent statement also admitted that, when it comes to market share, Game Pass is far ahead of PlayStation Plus. The company argued that this would incentivise Microsoft in affecting the PlayStation launches for future Call of Duty games, releasing either inferior versions on Sony’s platforms, or keeping it exclusive to Game Pass.
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