Microsoft has suggested that Sony has more and higher quality exclusive games than Xbox in a filing with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA is currently reviewing Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the filing, Microsoft claimed that Sony has a significant presence in the gaming industry, stating that “Sony is roughly equivalent in size to Activision and nearly double the size of Microsoft’s game publishing business”. The company also noted that “there were over 280 exclusive first- and third-party titles on PlayStation in 2021, nearly five times as many as on Xbox”.
Microsoft also highlighted the quality of Sony’s exclusive games, stating that the average Metacritic score for the top 20 exclusive games on PlayStation in 2021 was 87 out of 100, compared to 80 out of 100 for Xbox. Some of the exclusive titles mentioned by Microsoft include Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Bloodborne, and the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI and Silent Hill 2 remake, which are not or will not be available on Xbox.
The filing also emphasized the importance of game exclusivity and competition in the review of the Activision acquisition. One key concern for Sony is the possibility that Microsoft may make the highly popular Call of Duty franchise exclusive to Xbox. Microsoft has previously offered Sony a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. However, Microsoft has argued that “it is implausible that Sony, the leading console with a more than 2-to-1 lead, would be foreclosed as a result of not having access to a single franchise”.
In addition to game exclusivity, Microsoft also highlighted the role of mobile gaming in the proposed acquisition. Microsoft’s Gaming CEO, Phil Spencer, stated on a recent podcast that the Activision deal was largely about acquiring mobile gaming giant King. Microsoft explained in the filing that “Xbox has no material presence in mobile and its ability to reach gamers on mobile is impeded by Apple and Google’s effective duopoly in the provision of mobile app stores”. The acquisition of Activision, therefore, would provide Xbox with capabilities and content on mobile, which it currently lacks, as well as creating new distribution options for game developers outside of the mobile app stores. The CMA is also currently investigating the “stranglehold” of Apple and Google over mobile operating systems, app stores, and web browsers.