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The gloves are coming off at Xbox and PlayStation

Remember when I told you that Xbox boss Phil Spencer might be a PlayStation fanboy? Well, I guess the days of kissing each other’s ass are behind us once again. Due to the recent developments – including Xbox’s mega acquisition deal with Activision Blizzard – the tension between the two tech giants is starting to reach uncomfortable levels. Bring out the mud people, because we’re going to chuck some around.

So, what’s happening? Plenty, but let’s take it from the top. As you might know, Xbox seeks to take Activision Blizzard under its wing, strengthening its position against heavy-hitter PlayStation. With the acquisition still under investigation, the respective administrative councils leave room for feedback and objections. That is if there’s sufficient evidence to back up the claims. PlayStation is one of those companies that has objected.

According to a file issued to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), Xbox believes that PlayStation concerns are unfounded. In fact, they are downright hypocritical. For the record, PlayStation has stated that signing the rights to Call of Duty – one of Activision’s biggest franchises – to Xbox might create an unfair advantage. It might even convince people to buy an Xbox instead of a PlayStation. But according to Xbox, that’s just nonsense because making Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive wouldn’t benefit them at all. In fact, it would be highly unprofitable.

“Regardless of how unsurprising Sony‘s criticism of content exclusivity is – given that PlayStation’s entire strategy has been centered on exclusivity over the years – the reality is that the strategy of retaining Activision Blizzard’s games by not distributing them in rival console shops would simply not be profitable for Microsoft.

“Such a strategy would be profitable only if Activision Blizzard’s games were able to attract a sufficiently large number of gamers to the Xbox console ecosystem, and if Microsoft could earn enough revenue from game sales to offset the losses from not distributing such games on rival consoles.

“Such costs, added to the lost sales estimated […] above, mean that Microsoft would not be able to offset the losses by earning higher revenues in the Xbox ecosystem as a result of implementing exclusivity.

“This is especially true considering (i) the ‘gamer-centric’ – as opposed to ‘device-centric’ – strategy that Microsoft has pioneered with Game Pass, and (ii) the fact that PlayStation has the most loyal users across its various generations, with all indications that brand loyalty accrued in previous rounds of the ‘console wars’ suggesting that PlayStation will continue to have a strong market position.”

Speaking of Game Pass, Microsoft Xbox seems to have its own bone to pick with PlayStation regarding that. Xbox accuses PlayStation of cockblocking the service by paying devs not to take part in it. And that – my friends – is a bit of a dick move, especially since PlayStation’s own strategy relies heavily on exclusivity.

“Considering that exclusivity strategies have been at the core of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry, and that Sony is a leader in the distribution of digital games, Sony’s concern with possible exclusivity of Activision‘s content is incoherent, to say the least

“It only reveals, once again, a fear about an innovative business model that offers high-quality content at low costs to gamers, threatening a leadership that has been forged from a device-centric and exclusivity-focused strategy over the years.

“Indeed, Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been obstructed by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth. Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”

Hmmm… where did I see this before? This sounds oddly familiar for some reason…

Ahhh… that’s right. The Twitter. Anywho… still a big fan of that PlayStation Exclusive now, Phil? Sure you are. I mean, it’s not Santa Monica Studios’ fault that PlayStation seeks to throw a fit. Plus, I’m pretty sure that Xbox isn’t a saint either. If we’d dig deep enough, I’m sure we could dig up some dirt on them as well.

All is fair in love and war (and game publishing).