Senator Cramer Targets Sony In Microsoft/Activision Deal

Senator Kevin Cramer has written a letter to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida expressing concerns about the company's exclusionary deals....
Senator Cramer Targets Sony In Microsoft/Activision Deal
Written by Staff
  • Senator Kevin Cramer has written a letter to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida expressing concerns about the company’s exclusionary deals.

    Sony is at the heart of the FTC’s efforts to block Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard, with the company crying to everyone who will listen that the deal would hurt competition in the gaming industry. Sony has latched on to Call of Duty availability as a central part of its argument, saying Microsoft would restrict access and make it an Xbox-exclusive if the deal goes through.

    The company’s rhetoric has increasingly looked hypocritical, however, especially after emails came to light that shows Sony doesn’t even believe its own claims regarding Call of Duty.

    “It is not an exclusivity play at all,” Sony PlayStation chief Jim Ryan wrote in an email to Chris Deering, former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. “They’re thinking bigger than that and they have the cash to make moves like this. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with both Phil [Spencer] Bobby [Kotick] over the past day and I’m pretty sure we will continue to see Call of Duty on PlayStation for many years to come.”

    What’s more, Sony engages in exclusive deals of its own in an effort to maintain its dominance in the console market, a point that Senator Cramer noted in his letter:

    Given the growing significant of the gaming industry to North Dakota, I am troubled by reports Sony appears to leverage its dominance to exclude competition rather than enabling choice for players and developers. According to published reports, Sony controls over 68% of the global market for gaming consoles and a shocking 98% of the Japanese market. Increasingly, it appears Sony’s dominance is attributable to exclusionary practices, including paying game publishers not to distribute their games on rival platforms.

    Sony’s anticompetitive conduct has also included lobbying the FTC and competition regulators abroad to oppose Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision, a transaction many legal and gaming industry experts believe would promote a more competitive gaming market. Even more troubling is the fact Sony’s lobbying of the FTC and other regulators began shortly after Sony itself acquired Bungie, another major gaming competitor. Sony’s efforts to block this transaction apparently include a refusal to accept an agreement that fully addresses its concerns and would expand consumers’ access to games

    Sony’s conduct hurts American consumers by leading to higher prices and reduced choice. Importantly, it also constrains economic opportunities for developers, including for small and independent developers.

    Senator Cramer asks Sony to provide unredacted copies of all of its exclusivity agreements, as well as all documents pertaining to its reasons for purchasing Bungie and any communication with government agencies about the gaming industry.

    The senator clearly isn’t buying Sony’s efforts to cry foul.

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