Microsoft has hit back at Sony’s recent claim that the company’s upcoming acquisition of Activision Blizzard is anti-competitive with a counter-claim of its own. In a filing to the Brazil Administrative Council for Economic Defense, Microsoft has shot down the attempt to derail its plans by claiming Sony is the company implementing anti-competitive practices in regards to the Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
While Sony claimed Microsoft could wield the Call of Duty franchise as an exclusive title, and sway fans to join the Xbox ecosystem that way, it has now clarified that making the franchise exclusive would be financially unviable – and that it has no plans to do so.
The company has also counter-claimed that Sony is actively working to stop the growth of the company, and of its subscription service Xbox Game Pass, because the service threatens Sony’s market dominance.
‘Sony does not want attractive subscription services to threaten its dominance in the digital distribution market for console games,’ Microsoft said in the legal filing. ‘Sony’s own PlayStation, incidentally, has an established base of loyal brand players.’
‘Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered 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.’
At this stage, the reference to ‘blocking rights’ is the most concerning inclusion. It seems that Microsoft is alleging Sony has the power and influence to stop games from being included on Xbox Game Pass, and that it may have used this power to prevent select games from being included on the service.
This practice has so far gone unreported on, and it’s unknown whether Microsoft has a tangible case against Sony – but given these allegations were included in an official legal document, it’s likely the company has evidence to back this up.
Should these accusations turn out to be true, it appears Sony is engaging in the very same anti-competitive practices it previously accused Microsoft of implementing. At this stage, it’s unknown whether the statement will lead to a greater fracture between the two companies, or whether it will simply be filed away for the future. Whatever the case, we’ll likely hear more as the finalisation of the Activision Blizzard deal continues.