Sony may be forced to provide details about its PlayStation exclusivity deals and how much it pays for “blocking rights” to keep games from rival services like Xbox Game Pass. The FTC filed a lawsuit to try to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard and began a legal discovery process that saw Microsoft send subpoenas to Sony to force it to publicly release records, internal documentation, and emails from the company’s PlayStation unit. to make.
Kotaku spotted that the FTC’s Chief Administrative Judge, D. Michael Chappell, has now side with Microsoft request details of Sony’s PlayStation exclusivity deals. The request pertains to deals made after January 1, 2019, including fees or agreements that prevented publishers from putting games on Xbox Game Pass. The judge’s decision comes after Microsoft previously accused Sony of paying for “blocking rights” to prevent developers from adding their content to Xbox Game Pass.
Here are Microsoft’s latest claims, summed up in the words of Judge Chappell:
Microsoft argues that the complaint in this case contains a number of allegations regarding exclusivity agreements between developers of high-performance video game consoles with video game publishers. Microsoft acknowledges that SIE requires many third-party publishers to agree to exclusivity terms, including preventing publishers from posting their games on the Xbox multi-game subscription service, and to understand the full scope of SIE’s exclusivity arrangements and their effect on industry competitiveness will aid in its defense.
“The nature and scope of SIE’s content licensing agreements are relevant to the allegations of the complaint alleging exclusivity agreements between video game console developers and video game developers and publishers,” Judge Chappell said.
Microsoft had also tried to get details about Sony’s deals dating back to 2012, but Judge Chappell labeled this “excessive” and granted Sony’s request to limit the applicable time for document requests to 2019.
It’s incredibly rare for details of such exclusivity agreements to be made public, but the FTC case could expose some of the games industry’s secrecy in court. The last time we saw similar details revealed through a lawsuit was Epic Games vs. Apple in 2021. That case showed how Microsoft had explored cutting Xbox store cuts to shake up console gaming, how Sony had introduced cross-play platform fees, and that Fortnite was a PS4 cash cow.
The FTC case is still in the document discovery stage, with evidence hearing scheduled for August 2, so we’re still months away from possible new details.
Elsewhere, Microsoft’s Activision deal is likely to be approved by EU regulators. The combination to bring a binding 10-year agreement with Nintendo Duty to Nintendo platforms and a similar deal with Nvidia has reportedly convinced the European Commission to approve the acquisition. However, Microsoft continues to be scrutinized by UK and US regulators, with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month offering possible solutions, including forcing Microsoft to sell Activision Blizzard’s business related to Duty.