Since months, the focus of the gaming community’s attention has been Xbox’s continued chase of Activision Blizzard as Microsoft tries to win clearance for its large acquisition. Due to this, we have recently spent a lot of time watching court hearings, and as a result of recent remarks made by a US senator, we are once again (at least electronically) in a committee hall.
We must admit that we do not believe that this conversation is directly related to the ActiBlizz agreement, but it does touch on video game monopolies, particularly on the Sony side of the spectrum. In general, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell has made some intriguing remarks this week concerning the performance of the PlayStation maker in its own Japan.
Cantwell asserts that she has learned during discussions on “The President’s 2023 Trade Policy Strategy” that Sony “controls a monopoly of 98% of the high-end gaming market” in Japan and has engaged in “blatant anti-competitive activity through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers.” Those are pretty brash assertions!
“Sony reportedly holds a 98% market share monopoly in high-end video games, yet the Japanese government has permitted Sony to engage in blatantly anti-competitive behaviour by offering exclusive contracts and making payments to video game companies.”
As the senator states that she has just been “told” these things, we are unsure of the veracity of her assertions. If the senator is using the most recent FTC definition of the market, the 98% statistic appears to only include PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S-related titles, which does exclude a sizable portion of gamers in the area.
The statistics, however, do make for interesting reading and may support Microsoft’s argument for growing its gaming business through the combination of Xbox and Activision Blizzard. There is a case to be made for Xbox to step up its competition since Sony undoubtedly holds a larger share of the “high-end” market in its native country than Xbox does in the US.
We must wait and see how the FTC handles its case in the upcoming months to find out if these discussions will affect the ongoing ActiBlizz procedures. The US agency is expected to disclose its conclusions on August 2, 2023, at a court hearing, as of the time of this writing.