Sony may be forced to detail its PlayStation exclusivity deals and how much it pays for “blocking fees” to prevent games from competing services like Xbox Game Pass. The FTC sued try to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard and initiated a legal discovery process with Microsoft sending subpoenas to Sony to force it to reveal recordings, internal documentation and emails from the company’s PlayStation unit.
my city spotted that FTC Chief Administrative Judge D. Michael Chappell has now on Microsoft’s side asks for details on Sony’s PlayStation exclusive offers. The request covers deals made after January 1, 2019, including any fees or agreements preventing publishers from placing games on Xbox Game Pass. The judge’s decision comes after Microsoft previously accused Sony of paying for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding their content to Xbox Game Pass.
Here are Microsoft’s latest claims, summarized in the words of Judge Chappell:
Microsoft argues that the complaint in this case contains a number of allegations regarding the exclusivity agreements of high-performance video game console developers with video game publishers. Microsoft says it is aware that SIE requires many third-party publishers to agree to exclusivity terms, including preventing publishers from putting their games on Xbox’s multi-game subscription service, and that understanding all he extent of SIE’s exclusivity agreements and their effect on the competitiveness of the industry will contribute to its defense.
“The nature and scope of SIE’s content licensing agreements are relevant to the Complaint’s allegations regarding exclusivity agreements between video game console developers and video game developers and publishers,” the statement said. Judge Chappell.
Microsoft had also attempted to obtain details of Sony’s settlements dating back to 2012, but Judge Chappell called this “excessive” and instead granted Sony’s request to limit the applicable time limit for claims. documents to 2019.
It’s incredibly rare for details of such exclusivity deals to be made public, but the FTC case could open up some of the gaming industry’s secrecy in court hearings. The last time we saw similar details revealed by a court case was Epic Games v. Apple in 2021. This case showed how Microsoft had explored cutting its Xbox store discount to shake up console gaming, how Sony had implemented cross-play platform feesand that Fortnite was a ps4 cash cow.
The FTC case is still in the document discovery stage, with evidence scheduled hearing for August 2, so we’re months away from seeing any potential new details.
Elsewhere, Microsoft’s Activision deal is likely to be approved by EU regulators. The combination of a binding 10-year agreement with Nintendo bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms and a similar agreement with Nvidia convinced the European Commission to approve the acquisition. However, Microsoft is still under intense scrutiny from UK and US regulators, with the bid from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) possible remedies last month that compel Microsoft to sell Activision Blizzard’s business associated with Call of Duty.