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Dustin Bailey

PlayStation boss claims publishers "unanimously do not like Game Pass"

Xbox Game Pass old logo

PlayStation boss Jim Ryan says publishers "unanimously do not like Game Pass," and claims that even if Call of Duty were to remain on PlayStation after the Xbox Activision deal, its presence on Microsoft's subscription service would cheapen its value.

Today's court hearings over Microsoft's planned buyout of Activision Blizzard (via The Verge) have revealed that, during a February 2022 meeting with investors, Ryan said, "I talked to all publishers [and] they unanimously do not like Game Pass, because it's value destructive," adding that it's a "very commonly held view by publishers." 

While Microsoft has made repeated assurances that it intends to keep putting Call of Duty on PlayStation even if the deal goes through, Ryan contends that just putting the series on Game Pass would still diminish its value for PlayStation. Asked by an FTC lawyer if he had evidence of Microsoft games getting pulled from PlayStation (via Stephen Totilo on Twitter), Ryan said that "I believe the stance Microsoft is taking with regard to subscription service pricing is evidence at best of partial foreclosure."

In other words, Ryan believes Microsoft could partially restrict - or foreclose, in the terminology he's using here - the value of Call of Duty or other games on PlayStation simply by virtue of the fact that it would be $70 on PS5 and part of a $15 subscription on Xbox. Sony has been making similar arguments for months, suggesting Call of Duty could become a "de facto exclusive" for Xbox in a response to the UK CMA investigation into the deal. 

Ryan's deposition today also confirmed that Sony expected to see Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation, and that while he doesn't like Starfield going Xbox-exclusive, he doesn't "view it as anti-competitive." 

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