Xbox's ongoing pursuit of Activision Blizzard has been the centre of attention in the gaming sphere for months now, as Microsoft continues to try and secure approval for its huge deal. This has meant we've spent plenty of time following court proceedings as of late, and recent comments from a US senator mean we're back (at least virtually) in some sort of committee hall once again.
Now, we must say that we don't think this discussion relates directly to the ActiBlizz deal, but it does touch on video game monopolies, specifically on the other side of the spectrum with Sony. Basically, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell has made some interesting comments this week about the PlayStation maker's performance in its home nation of Japan.
As part of talks on 'The President’s 2023 Trade Policy Agenda', Cantwell claims she's heard that Sony "controls a monopoly of 98% of the high-end game market" in Japan, and that the PlayStation owner has partaken in "blatant anti-competitive conduct through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers". Those are some bold claims!
"I'm told that Sony controls a monopoly of 98% of the high-end game market, yet Japan's government has allowed Sony to engage in blatant anti-competitive conduct through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers..."
The senator says that she's merely been "told" these facts, so we're not sure how accurate the claims are to be honest. The 98% figure seems to only count Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 related games (if the senator is using this recent FTC definition of the market), so that does cut off a huge portion of gamers in the region.
However, if even remotely accurate the stats do make for interesting reading, and could certainly help Microsoft's case for expanding its gaming division with the merging of Xbox and Activision Blizzard. Sony clearly has a much bigger percentage of the 'high-end' market in its home nation vs. Xbox's market hold in the US, so there's an argument there to be made about Xbox trying to further compete.
For now, we don't know if these discussions will leak out into the ongoing ActiBlizz proceedings - we'll have to wait and see how the FTC handles its case in the coming months. At the time of writing, the US regulator is scheduled to present its findings at a court hearing on August 2nd, 2023.