Sony may be forced to reveal all of its recent PlayStation exclusive deals in great detail, showing how much it pays for such deals, and imposing “lockdown rights” to keep games out of competing services like Xbox Game Pass. This is because the FTC has sued Microsoft to try to block the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by launching a process aimed at revealing the real functioning of the global video game market.
And it was during this process that the U.S. antitrust authority asked Sony to send in a huge amount of documents, starting in 2019 and ending with the present day of these first months of 2023.
As Kotaku notes a few days ago, FTC Chief Administrative Judge D. Michael Chappell granted Microsoft’s request for documents detailing Sony’s exclusive PlayStation deals.
The request under consideration is for agreements entered into after January 1, 2019, including fees or terms that prevent publishers from hosting games on Xbox Game Pass. The judge’s decision comes after Microsoft previously accused Sony of paying a “lock fee” aimed at preventing developers from adding their content to Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft also sought details of Sony’s agreements reached from 2012 to today, but Judge Chappell called the request from the Redmond-based company “excessive,” while accepting the Japanese giant’s request for an applicable time limit in lieu of requests for documents. starting from 2019.
And this is something incredibly rare in the world of video games (and not only), given that the details of exclusivity agreements are extremely rare. We last saw details like this in a lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple in 2021.
However, it’s important to clarify that the FTC lawsuit is still in the document disclosure stage, with an evidence hearing scheduled for August 2, so there are still a few months left before we see potential new details online.
At the same time, Microsoft’s deal with Activision is likely to be approved by EU regulators. The combination of a 10-year binding agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms and a similar agreement with Nvidia reportedly convinced the European Commission to approve the acquisition.
However, Microsoft continues to face scrutiny from UK and US regulators, with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month offering possible remedies, including forcing Microsoft to sell Activision Blizzard’s business related to call of duty.
Sony may be forced to reveal how much it pays to keep games out of Xbox Game Pass. A judge in the FTC case sided with Microsoft to force Sony to reveal recordings, internal documentation and emails from the company’s PlayStation division. Details here: https://t.co/S00Rn6HCzS
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 3, 2023
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