Microsoft accuses Sony of ‘blocking’ games from Xbox Game Pass

12 Aug 2022

Image: © miglagoa/

Sony thinks Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision is anti-competitive, while Microsoft is hitting back by taking aim at Sony’s own alleged practices.

There’s been some drama unfolding in Brazil between gaming giants Microsoft and Sony as the former accused its competitor of paying for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding their games to Xbox Game Pass.

Microsoft has been trying to convince Brazil’s competition authority, known as CADE, that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard in a deal worth nearly $70bn announced in January does not inhibit competition in the industry.

Meanwhile, Sony has reportedly argued to the authority that Activision titles such as Call of Duty are “essential” to the gaming industry. Microsoft defended its acquisition saying the franchise isn’t a “must-have” and there is “nothing unique about the video games” developed by Activision.

Now, Microsoft has launched its latest attack on Sony by claiming that the Japanese gaming giant is intentionally trying to hamper growth of Xbox Game Pass, a video game streaming membership service.

“Microsoft’s ability to continue expanding Game Pass has been hampered by Sony’s desire to inhibit such growth,” Microsoft claimed in its filing to CADE, seen and translated from Portuguese by The Verge.

“Sony pays for ‘blocking rights’ to prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services,” Microsoft claimed.

However, exclusive gaming rights is not that uncommon among gaming companies.

Microsoft itself may be throwing stones from a glass house on this complaint as filings seen by The Verge from the Epic Games v Apple trial last year revealed it had considered incentivising streaming rights for Xbox by lowering the revenue split for PC games.

Sony may also be wrong about how ‘essential’ Call of Duty is to gaming when competition exists from other games such as Apex Legends, Battlefield, PUBG and more.

After Microsoft announced it was snapping up Activision, Sony pursued its own major acquisition of Bungie, the maker of Halo and Destiny 2.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic