Xbox Accuses Sony of Paying Developers to Block Game Pass Titles

Although Sony and Microsoft are not averse to praising each other on social media, things are less friendly behind the scenes. Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard and in order to do that, several agencies in various countries need to look at the situation to assess it.

In particular, the discussion being held in Brazil is very interesting, because the information is publicly available. This recently provided some more insight into how Sony views the situation. For example, Sony states that it will be years before there is an established competitor for Game Pass and that Call of Duty is a franchise on which gamers base their console purchases.

Microsoft has now responded to Sony’s statements, stating that the Japanese company is paying developers and publishers “blocking fees” to prevent games from being released directly on Game Pass.

“Considering that exclusivity strategies have been at the core of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry, and that Sony is a leader in the distribution of digital games, Sony’s concern with possible exclusivity of Activision’s content is incoherent, to say the least.

It only reveals, once again, a fear about an innovative business model that offers high-quality content at low costs to gamers, threatening a leadership that has been forged from a device-centric and exclusivity-focused strategy over the years.

Indeed, Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been obstructed by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth. Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”

Sony would like to prevent games from being offered via subscription models immediately from release, because this has an impact on their revenue model. Something that Microsoft later underlines with the reasoning below.

Sony “does not want attractive subscription services to threaten its dominance in the digital distribution market for console games. In other words, Sony rails against the introduction of new monetization models capable of challenging its business model.”

Sony’s revenue model is different, which is further evidenced by the fact that they do not want to offer first-party releases directly via PlayStation Plus Extra or Premium. The argument that Sony gives for this is that this would be at the expense of the quality of the games.

Both sides have used this strategy before. Even though Xbox Game Pass is a new idea, paying to keep a game from going to another platform has been around for a while. Rise of the Tomb Raider was famously only available on Xbox One for a year before it went to PlayStation. On the other hand, PlayStation has had a number of exclusive games made by third parties, like Final Fantasy VII Remake. Still, Microsoft is right to bring up this point to counter Sony’s other claims.

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