It’s that time when game companies are trying to make themselves look smaller and weaker again.
Sony has stated as a matter of record that rival Xbox’s Game Pass has definitely gotten far ahead of their own PlayStation Plus service.
On a CMA document titled Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Observations on the CMA’s Provisional Findings, dated March 1, 2023, Sony makes this statement on page 6 (edited for clarity):
“Microsoft tends to skew the evidence when it presents shares of supply. The provisional findings find that “the difference between the shares of Microsoft and Sony, both in the UK and globally, is significantly smaller than suggested by the Parties”. And when it comes to multi-game subscription services, it is beyond doubt that Game Pass is far ahead of PlayStation Plus.”
Sony confirms this assessment in a section of the document where they repeat their argument that Microsoft withholding Call of Duty would harm competition. Later in the document, they detail arguments about the deal Microsoft offered them that I discussed here.
Interestingly enough, Sony now has a more complete description of an item they didn’t like from Microsoft’s contract, that neither they nor Microsoft had redacted:
“-making Call of Duty available on multi-game subscription services (“MGS”) only on Game Pass or providing Call of Duty on PlayStation Plus at a commercially unviable price, thereby making it de facto exclusive.”
It’s common knowledge at this point that Game Pass, alongside the Xbox Series S, has become a huge success for Microsoft. Factually, we can point to the $ 2.9 billion in revenue made from Game Pass, that Microsoft disclosed to Brazilian regulators in relation to this same Microsoft – Activision deal.
But on an informal level, it’s well known that Game Pass is a great deal if you’re a gamer in 2023. It’s a very cheap way to immediately have a library of games of different sizes, genres, and skill levels. Paired with an Xbox Series S, it’s the cheapest way to immediately be playing the latest video games, an even better deal than a Nintendo Switch Lite with Nintendo Switch Online (which to be fair, is also a good deal and much cheaper).
While Microsoft reported they would be expanding Game Pass to forty more countries, Sony revealed they lost 2 million users after refreshing their PlayStation Plus offering with new tiers.
On the multi-game subscription services side of the industry, Sony hasn’t been as successful as Microsoft. That’s partly because they aren’t willing to commit the same way Microsoft has. If God of War Ragnarok had been on PlayStation Plus on day one, more PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 owners would have had the game immediately. But Sony believes they may have not made as much money, and they could be right or wrong about that.
Beyond the discussion of the Microsoft – Activision deal, it’s clear that Sony knows they need to do some more tweaking on their PlayStation Plus offerings again. If they put more of their own high profile games on their subscription, they would immediately be more competitive on that end.