Microsoft accuses Sony of investing in “blocking rights” to stop titles going on Game Pass

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An image of heat between Microsoft and Sony.

While the intense period of battles between Microsoft and Sony known as the ‘console wars’ may have ended a long time ago, it seems that there’s still a little bit of friction between Xbox and Playstation.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, given that both publishers are currently in the midst of periods of expansion, with Xbox drawing in customers via its Game Pass and having recently acquired Activision Blizzard, while the Playstation side of things has seen the purchase of Bungie and a newfound desire to break into the PC market.

According to a report from The Verge’s Tom Warren, it’s the aftermath of the Activision Blizzard that sparked the latest mini-spat between the two powerhouses, with Microsoft claiming that Sony pays for “blocking rights” on some titles.

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Your titles shall not be on Game Pass!

The claim comes from documents submitted to Brazil’s national competition regulator as part of a review of the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard deal, several of which have been taking place around the world, allowing competitors like Sony, Warner Bros and Ubisoft to give their views on the acquisition.

In response to Sony’s comments to the Brazilian regulator, which outlined the influence over console popularity held by Activision’s Call of Duty series, citing this as a concern regarding the deal, Microsoft has issued a response suggesting that Sony has been working to “inhibit” its business growth.

“Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.” claims Microsoft in an August 9 filing translated from Portuguese by The Verge.

This may sound like an explosive accusation, it depends upon what kind of mechanisms Microsoft is actually referring to, with Warren pointing out that publishing contacts in the games industry often contain measures designed to influence which platforms and streaming services games end up on and when they do so.

This was a sentiment echoed by industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, who took to Twitter to say of the reaction to the news, which saw gamers from both sides of the console divide debate who’s in the right: “I'm convinced the people responding and commenting on this are either doing so in bad faith or have no idea how any business/industry operates under our current organisation of the economy.”

He later added: “To clarify, I'm not saying this is a good thing or that I'm in favour of it. Being able to play games anywhere is obviously a better option.”

The discussion between both publishers and the Brazilian regulator currently looks set to rumble on for a few more weeks, with Microsoft attempting to convince the authorities that integrating Activision Blizzard content into its current offering won’t upset the competitive dynamics of the industry.

Regardless of your views on the deal and the long-standing debate around game exclusivity, make sure to follow us for more Xbox and Playstation coverage.