PlayStation pays for games not coming to Xbox Game Pass: so what?

A document reveals that Sony would finance the developers to prevent their games from ending up in the Xbox Game Pass. An “explosive” subject yet quite classic in the industry.

Sony pays blocking rightsto prevent developers from offering their games on Xbox Game Pass. This is what Microsoft claims in a shared document with the competition authority in Brazil in connection with the takeover of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft.

According to The VergeIt’s about a ” explosive revelationfrom Microsoft. It seems indeed to scandalize many players in the world. However, this is standard market practice.

Sony and Microsoft face off in Brazil

One wonders what Brazil is doing in a debate between Xbox and PlayStation. This is simply the procedure to validate the takeover of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft. The firm must do the same in the United States, Europe and other territories to hope to finalize the monster acquisition.

Sony wants to demonstrate that this takeover will create a video game giant that will be impossible to catch up with in a market with healthy competition. Conversely, Microsoft is trying to demonstrate that Sony is already a strong competitor, especially with its PlayStation Plus.

In this context, the Redmond firm indicates: “ Microsoft’s ability to continue Game Pass expansion has been hampered by Sony’s desire to curb that growth“.

For it : “Sony pays ‘blocking fees’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services“. An anti-competitive practice on the part of Sony? Not necessarily.

A return on investment

Far from being the revelation of a scandal that some might wish, it is above all a highlighting of a classic industry practice. In publishing and distribution contracts signed with manufacturers, it may be stated that a game has no right to end up in another subscription service.

Imagine Sony PlayStation investing heavily in developing a game like the excellentstrayto make it a flagship of its platform, before discovering a few days before the release of the game that it will land as soon as it is launched in the competing Xbox Game Pass.

It would obviously be terrible for Sony. We therefore understand why Sony would include in its contracts the impossibility of publishing in another service. It is also to negotiate these catalog or cloud gaming streaming rights that publishers dropped the GeForce Now when it was launched.

If the practice is standard in the industry, does Microsoft indulge in it? The answer is probably yes. Documents from the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple in 2021 revealed that Microsoft had considered cut his commission from 30 to 12% on the PC and Xbox store in exchange for game streaming rights. Officially, the firm claims has not pursued this strategy.

Still, we can empirically note that the games arriving in a subscription service like PlayStation Plus Extra are often those that have recently left the Xbox Game Pass catalog and vice versa.

This is hardly surprising on the scale of entertainment. SVOD platforms like Netflix or Amazon regularly sign contracts of the same type to recover exclusivity on major series.

It is also a new component for a competition that previously took other forms. The game of subscription service exclusives is just a continuation of the concept of console exclusives that has been the sinews of competition for many generations of machines.

Challenging the status quo

You will have understood that what “revealedMicrosoft in this document is actually a very standard and unsurprising practice. This does not mean, however, that it is acceptable.

If we can completely understand it in a case where the manufacturer has invested particularly in a game, which is moreover an indie title which needs financing, we are cautious when it comes to a high budget game.

Let’s be honest, games likeFinal Fantasy XVIa PS5 exclusive, orWarhammer Darktide, in the case of Xbox, probably did not need the finances of either Sony or Microsoft to get to the end of development. In these cases, the manufacturer is mainly funding a competitive advantage to prevent players from other platforms from accessing an expected game.

It is for this type of case that we can understand the frustration of the players. Today, Sony fears for the health of the market that Microsoft might make future big titles like a Call of Duty exclusive. Ironically, Sony has long been involved in making exclusives the be-all and end-all of consumer choice between game consoles.

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PlayStation pays for games not coming to Xbox Game Pass: so what?

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