Microsoft admits “many ‘PlayStation exclusives’ of better quality” than those on Xbox

Microsoft has admitted that Sony has more exclusive “better quality” games than its own.

The statement comes in documents related to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which have just been released.

In Microsoft’s response to the CMA’s statement of concerns, it says the proposed merger is pro-competitive due to Sony’s position as the dominant platform holder.

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“In addition to being the dominant console vendor, Sony is also a powerful game publisher,” Microsoft’s response reads. “Sony is roughly the size of Activision and nearly twice the size of Microsoft’s game publishing business.”

Sony’s exclusive first-party franchises, including God of War, The Last of Us, and the recently acquired Destiny 2, are described as “iconic.”

“There were over 280 first- and third-party exclusive titles on PlayStation in 2021, nearly five times as many as on Xbox.”

Later in the document, to show that the merger would have no anti-competitive effect, Microsoft says: “Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are better quality.”

“Both Sony and Nintendo exclusive first party games are among the best-selling in Europe and worldwide,” it reads. “Sony’s current exclusive content includes major first party titles such as The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, God of War and Spiderman.”

It also suggests that Sony has “entered into agreements with third-party publishers that require Xbox to be excluded from the set of platforms on which these publishers can distribute their games.”

This includes Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Bloodborne, Final Fantasy 16, and Silent Hill 2 remake as examples.

Console exclusives are also claimed to account for a higher percentage of global game sales for PlayStation than Xbox, although the specific figures have been removed. It is suggested that for Nintendo these proportions would be even higher due to “the importance of Nintendo’s unique first party portfolio”.

“It is implausible that Sony, the leading console with a lead of more than 2 to 1, will be foreclosed due to not having access to a single franchise,” the document said, referring specifically to Call of Duty.

Microsoft also comments on Nintendo’s exclusive games, stating that it “offers a wider range of adult content than Xbox.”

“The CMA has mischaracterized the Nintendo Switch as predominantly family-friendly. Such a characterization overlooks the fact that more mature/adult games are available on the Switch and are actively marketed, including on the Switch YouTube channel,” Microsoft said.

“Nintendo’s use of innovation shouldn’t detract from the fact that it’s still delivering a console experience that rivals Xbox and Sony, and has been able to do so successfully without Call of Duty being on its platform ( despite previous Nintendo consoles having Call of Duty content).”

Last month, Microsoft’s financial results showed that its Game Pass subscription service had missed growth targets for the second consecutive year. The lack of prominent exclusives is widely seen as a major reason.

Additionally, Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer admitted that unique games like the exclusive Pentiment wouldn’t have been possible without Game Pass.

Sony, meanwhile, has refused to add its exclusives to PS Plus since day one, and they continue to sell very well.

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