According to court documents from Brazil, Microsoft claims that Sony is utilizing “blocking rights” to prevent developers from adding games to its Game Pass service. The news comes as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is under review.
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As discovered by The Verge this past week, Microsoft stated to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) that it believes Sony is paying “blocking rights” to developers to stop adding new games to its Xbox Game Pass service. A filing made on August 9, 2022 reads, “Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered 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.” What exactly this means is uncertain as it could be referring to timed exclusivity of games on PlayStation platforms.
Curiously, Sony seems to be firing back in Brazillian courts by bringing up Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The company is already under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in the US, but unlike in the US, Brazillian court documents are not kept private. After some digging by users on ResetEra, we can see that Sony is claiming Microsoft is making it difficult to create a franchise that could rival Call of Duty, which it believes stands out as “a gaming category on its own.”
— The Verge (@verge) August 10, 2022
While Sony might be fearing that Microsoft will keep a ton of hot exclusives on Game Pass, Microsoft has assured that relegating Call of Duty to Xbox only would not be profitable for the company. As far back as February of this year, the company said it would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation because it has had tremendous success with Minecraft. Unless something has changed since then, it wouldn’t make sense for one of gaming’s biggest franchises to become exclusive. Then again, the previous week-long exclusivity on DLC for the games may become a thing of the past.
The legal battle over this matter is only likely just getting started, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence to suggest Microsoft is accurate in these claims. It could just be a simple turn of phrase to try and cast timed exclusivity as a negative. Most players would probably be happy if that trend went the way of the dodo, but it technically isn’t illegal.