Microsoft Claims Sony Blocking Games From Coming To Game Pass

An Xbox sits in a glass case.

Photo: Beata Zawrzel (Getty Images)

Last week, Microsoft argued to Brazilian regulators that Call of Duty was not an essential game series while Sony protested that it was. In the latest episode of the Activision Blizzard acquisition drama going down in Brazil, Microsoft accused the PlayStation manufacturer of trying to “inhibit growth” of Game Pass.

Microsoft has been trying to convince regulatory agencies around the world that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard is not unfair to its competitors within the gaming industry. Now, as spotted by The Verge, it’s claiming that Sony pays developers not to put their games on the Xbox maker’s subscription service.

“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” Microsoft claimed in an August 9 filing. “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”

Platform exclusivity deals are common in the gaming industry, and it’s ambiguous whether this refers to a clause that might prevent games from appearing on Xbox services during its exclusivity period, or stricter terms. A document relating to PlayStation exclusivity came out of the Capcom leaks, and page three indicates that exclusives could not appear on rivals to PlayStation subscription services. These included Google Stadia, Game Pass, and similar services. Kotaku reached out to both Microsoft and Sony, but did not receive responses by the time of publication.

Sony was previously critical of Microsoft’s hold on the gaming market. Just last week, the console manufacturer argued to CADE that Call of Duty was an “essential game,” and that competitors would not be able to rival it. Microsoft disagreed, and in this latest filing painstakingly lay out examples of Sony’s predilection for exclusivity regarding their big-name releases.

Ever since someone posted translations of the Administrative Council For Economic Defense (CADE) proceedings on ResetEra, gamers have been speculating on whether or not the publishers’ complaints hold water. It’s a sensitive topic because the acquisition of Activision Blizzard will undoubtedly affect the gaming ecosystem in seismic ways, but neither platform holder’s hands are clean. After the Microsoft acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher was announced, Sony had pursued its own major acquisition of Bungie, which makes Destiny 2.

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