Microsoft alleges Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to restrict titles from appearing on Xbox Game Pass
Sony, according to Microsoft, pays for “blocking rights” to prevent developers from adding their games to Xbox Game Pass. The startling accusations are included in papers submitted to Brazil’s national competition commission as part of an investigation into Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard.
Is this to imply that Sony is wicked and Microsoft is casually divulging some nefarious business practices? On both sides, the truth is probably a bit more convoluted. Sony may just be paying for exclusive rights to its own streaming services, or it may have terms in certain publishing contracts that preclude some of the games it publishes from being released on competing subscription services.
It’s unclear what Microsoft is talking about here, but contracts for publishing games may be complicated, especially when streaming and subscription service rights are involved. According to documents submitted in last year’s Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit, Microsoft was proposing decreasing the revenue split for PC games “in return for the concession of streaming rights to Microsoft.”
If Microsoft had gone forward with its intentions, it might have secured exclusive streaming rights to specific games, prohibiting them from being accessible on competing for streaming platforms. It all depends on how publishing contracts are drafted, and both Microsoft and Sony often get game exclusives that include scheduled releases, platform exclusivity, and a large marketing budget.
Microsoft is hoping to persuade Brazil’s CADE regulator to approve the company’s planned $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard. The email is confidential while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigates Microsoft’s purchase in the United States. That is not the case in Brazil, where the country’s competition commission makes public records that give a unique insight into Microsoft and Sony’s commercial rivalry.