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Playing Dirty: Microsoft Claims Sony Is Paying Developers Not To Add Their Games To Game Pass

Sony is allegedly paying for “blocking rights” to thwart Microsoft

Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, a leader in game development and an interactive entertainment content publisher. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard and King studios like "Warcraft," "Diablo," "Overwatch," "Call of Duty" and "Candy Crush."

Microsoft is accusing Sony of paying off developers to prevent them from adding their games to Game Pass. As part of the Activision Blizzard acquisition review process, on August 9, the Xbox creator entered a filing with Brazil’s national competition regulator. The claim comes shortly after Microsoft executive Peter Moore spoke about how the company encouraged the console wars to challenge both themselves and Sony. In the filing, Microsoft claims that Sony is actively hampering the growth of Game Pass. 

“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” claims Microsoft in the filing, which was translated from Portuguese by the Verge. “Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.”

Accusations From Both Sides

Whether Microsoft has any proof of this is currently unclear. Recently Sony claimed that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard would lead to more gamers choosing Xbox or PlayStation due to the popularity of Call of Duty. However, Microsoft has stated that it will continue to develop Activision titles for PlayStation and other platforms.

It’s unclear whether Sony is actually paying for blocking rights to keep titles off of Game Pass, or this is simply a side-effect of exclusivity deals. Either way, in terms of game console rivalry, the accusation is adding fuel to the flames. It is also unclear whether PlayStation acquiring blocking rights will affect game releases on PC.

Xbox is already suffering in terms of profits due to the lack of blockbuster titles releasing in 2022. Currently, there is an 11 percent dip in Xbox hardware sales and a six percent dip in services and content compared to last year. PlayStation is also suffering from a lack of hit game releases, with God of War: Ragnarök, which releases in November, will be the console’s second and last blockbuster exclusive for 2022.

Written By

Jack Brassell is a freelance journalist and aspiring novelist. Jack is a self-proclaimed nerd with a lifelong passion for storytelling. As an author, Jack writes mostly horror and young adult fantasy. Also an avid gamer, she works as the lead news editor at Hardcore Droid. When she isn't writing or playing games, she can often be found binge-watching Parks & Rec or The Office, proudly considering herself to be a cross between Leslie Knope and Pam Beasley.

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