According to a recent report, Microsoft has claimed that Sony pays for “blocking rights” to prevent developers adding their games to Xbox Game Pass.
As reported by The Verge, the fairly substantial accusation comes as part of some documents that have been filed with Brazil’s national competition regulator, as well as being part of a review of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” Microsoft itself claims in a filing to the Administrative Council for Economic Defence, or CADE (translations from The Verge). “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”
It’s unclear what this actually means in practice, as noted by The Verge. The shadiest of possibilities is that Sony literally does not allow developers it financially supports to put said developer’s games on Game Pass. But it could also be a simple matter of Sony paying for exclusive rights for its own services, like the recently revamped PlayStation Plus. And there could be some clauses in certain publishing contracts that stop the games appearing on Game Pass, or other similar services.
Microsoft making this claim while it is being investigated over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard is likely due to the potential of it being anti-competitive, which Sony is fully conscious of.
The documents filed to CADE have been pulled apart by users on ResetEra, noting how Sony has previously made a point that it would be difficult for it to create a franchise that might rival Activision’s Call of Duty. It also claimed that the series is “a gaming category on its own,” which it isn’t really, though it can’t be argued that if Call of Duty goes exclusive to Xbox then Sony will miss out on a lot of revenue.