According to documents filed with Brazil’s national competition regulator, Microsoft has claimed that Sony has paid “blocking rights” to developers to prevent their games from being added to Xbox Game Pass. As part of the regulator’s review of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company alleged that Sony had “hampered” the growth of its Game Pass subscription service with its business practices.
“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” Microsoft claimed in its translated filing (via The Verge) to the Administrative Council for Economic Defense. “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”
The deal that Microsoft refers to is one that’s common in the industry. Publishing contracts are complex, and with the addition of subscription services such as Game Pass or PS Plus, that adds another layer of complexity to any agreements between studios, publishers, and companies that own platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation. It’s likely not some sinister masterplan by Sony, but business as usual in an industry where timed and console-exclusive deals happen frequently.
Microsoft’s response comes shortly after Sony made its own claim about its users jumping ship to Xbox if Microsoft’s deal to purchase Activision Blizzard, and by extension, the Call of Duty franchise, is completed. Microsoft has disputed that claim, and had also previously indicated that it would continue supporting Call of Duty on PlayStation “beyond the existing agreement” and into the future.
Any existing publishing agreements with PlayStation made by Activision Blizzard, specifically the ones set up for Modern Warfare 2, next year’s Call of Duty: Warzone 2, and a new Call of Duty core release, will still be honored by Microsoft.
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