Microsoft claims Sony owns 70% of the global console market

Microsoft is currently in the process of arguing for its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
ps5 ps4 playstation global console market share

During a European Commission hearing to determine the legitimacy of Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft president Brad Smith has claimed Sony’s share of the global console market is a key reason for the deal’s potential approval.

‘Think about the market in Europe,’ Smith reportedly said at the hearing, via GamesIndustry.biz. ‘It is a market where Sony has an 80% share. Globally, it is about 70/30. In Japan, it is 96/4. These numbers have been remarkably steady for two decades. Even last year, when there were issues with Sony’s supply chain, they came back strong.’

The most notable statistic here is the 70/30 split – which seems to suggest Sony has an extremely dominant portion of the global console market. According to Smith, the company even retained this portion during the Covid-19 pandemic, which bottlenecked PS5 manufacturing chains, and created major supply issues.

Read: Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal gets CMA provisional warning

While the numbers were provided strictly in service of disputing recent antitrust warnings handed down by the European Union, they’re likely derived from internal, cumulative Microsoft data. Given this paints a dire picture of Microsoft’s share of the gaming market, it’s unlikely this information would have been surfaced in any other circumstance.

The ‘console wars’ have always positioned Sony and Microsoft as direct rivals, with strong competition between them. Now, Microsoft is claiming that isn’t the case at all. Despite this, its proposed Activision Blizzard deal remains in troubled waters – and the company is now taking more ambitious steps to gain approval.

Coinciding with the news shared during the European Commission hearing, Microsoft has announced a range of deals to reduce criticism of the company potentially gaining a competitive advantage in the global games market.

First, it cemented a legally-binding, 10-year agreement to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms. Microsoft president Brad Smith confirmed this was ‘just part’ of Microsoft’s renewed ‘commitment to bring Xbox games and Activision titles like Call of Duty to more players on more platforms’.

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A similar deal was also struck with Nvidia, to bring Call of Duty, and other Xbox and Activision Blizzard PC games, to the GeForce Now streaming platform over a 10-year period.

‘We’re committed to bringing more games to more people – however they choose to play,’ Phil Spencer, Microsoft Head of Gaming confirmed ahead of the EU hearing.

Whether these declarations, and the revelation of Microsoft’s reported 30% share in the global console market, is enough to convince the European Commission to approve the company’s proposed Activision Blizzard deal is unclear. Sony remains strongly opposed to the deal, and its protests may have a major impact on its eventual resolution.

We’ll learn more about the European Commission response in the coming weeks.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.