Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says he’d “love” for his company to do away with Xbox exclusives but can’t because of Sony.
The executive made the comment during an FTC hearing into Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“If it was up to me I would love to get rid of the entire exclusives on consoles, but that’s not for me to define especially as a low share player in the console market,” said Nadella. “The dominant player there [Sony] has defined market competition using exclusives, so that’s the world we live in. I have no love for that world.” The company is attempting to buy Activision Blizzard to bolster its lineup of 23 first-party studios and exclusive catalogue that includes the likes of Halo, Forza and, soon, Bethesda’s Starfield.
On the one hand, there is some merit to Nadella’s statement, as Sony’s PlayStation is indeed the clear leader in the global console market, accounting for an estimated 45 percent of money spent on hardware, software and services, versus Nintendo’s 27.7 percent and Microsoft’s 27.3 percent. As such, the company undeniably has a good deal of influence in the industry.
That said, it’s strange to specifically blame Sony for exclusives when this is a business strategy as old as time, predating, even, the original PlayStation in 1994. Earlier console generations even saw new exclusive games like Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog come about to directly compete with Nintendo’s Mario. Of course, Nintendo also continues to produce exclusive games, with one of the year’s best sellers, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, only being available on the Switch. The idea of exclusive content also clearly transcends gaming, such as in the streaming service space.
On top of that, it’s easy for Nadella to say all of this now, with Microsoft in third place. If the roles were reversed and Xbox had Sony’s wide exclusive catalogue, it’s unlikely that the company would feel the same about exclusives. During the hearing, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan even acknowledged that it’s in Microsoft’s best interest to continue pursuing exclusives, although he declined to comment on what Sony might do should it own Activision Blizzard.
In any case, the FTC hearing has been quite revealing, to say the least, with representatives from both Microsoft and Sony making curious or even questionable statements. For example, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan vaguely claimed he’s spoken to “all publishers” and they’re in agreement that Xbox Game Pass is “value destructive.” Meanwhile, PlayStation secrets, including game budgets for the likes of The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West, were leaked due to the company’s own failure to properly redact documents submitted to the FTC.
June 29th is set to be the final day of this hearing. The FTC is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent Microsoft from closing the Activision Blizzard deal, while a separate legal challenge is slated to begin on August 2nd. The company is also in the midst of appealing an April U.K. ruling that blocked the acquisition over concerns related to cloud gaming.
Via: The Verge