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Sony Paying Devs To Stay Off Xbox Game Pass Says Microsoft

Microsoft has claimed that their major gaming rival Sony, has been paying developers for ‘blocking rights’, to keep games off their gaming subscription service Xbox Game Pass.

The accusation came to light in documents filed by Microsoft to Brazil’s competition watchdog, who were investigating the tech company’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard.

According to Microsoft, Sony has been going out of their way to prevent the growth of Games Pass by paying developers to stay away from the service, as they look to bolster their own subscription offering.

“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” says the August 9th Microsoft filing, submitted to the Administrative Council for Economic Defence.

“Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”

This would not be out of character for Sony, who tend to be the kid in the sandpit who’s not so keen on sharing their toys. When cross-platform gaming launched for Rocket League and Minecraft, Sony refused to buy in, whilst PC, Xbox and Nintendo players got to enjoy playing against each other on different platforms.

Sony only budged under immense pressure from Epic Games, who wanted to enable cross play for Fortnite, which was the biggest game on PlayStation at the time. As part of the agreement, Sony received compensation for cross-play, and is the only platform to do so. Recently released documents suggest that Sony

Microsoft is hopeful that the claim will prove that their purchase of Activision Blizzard would not hinder competition or create a gaming monopoly.

“The inclusion of Activision Blizzard content in Game Pass does not impair the ability of other players to compete in the digital game distribution market,” says the company. In fact, they believe that bringing major titles such as Call of Duty to Game Pass will increase competition by providing users with access to games at a lower cost.

Call of Duty is the big one in the acquisition, and it’s a title that Sony say is “a gaming category of its own,” and that competing with it as an exclusive Xbox offering would be difficult. Whether they would allow the franchise to become available on the recently revamped PlayStation Plus subscription service however, allowing prices to be competitive, is currently unknown.

Microsoft however has previously said that Call of Duty will still be available on PlayStation, whilst also pointing out the massive success of other shooter franchises such as Apex Legends, Battlefield and PUBG.

Whilst the Microsoft Activision deal is being monitored worldwide by watchdogs in Europe and the US, most competition authorities keep correspondence private. Brazil’s CADE offers documentation to the public.

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