What you need to know
- Microsoft is grappling with three major regulators over its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard.
- As part of the proceedings, Microsoft revealed that Sony had “take out” deals for third-party games on the PlayStation.
- It looks like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy 16, and Silent Hill 2 Remake will never hit Xbox, despite publishers’ silence on the matter.
- Microsoft also listed Bloodborne as an example of a third-party developed game being banned from non-PlayStation platforms, which could mean that the much-requested Windows PC port is out of the question as well. Sony has been a little friendlier to PCs in recent years, though, so I’m keeping the hippie close to this one.
Drama rages around the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, as Microsoft ramps up its engagement with regulators.
Yesterday, Microsoft posted its response to the US FTC regarding the lawsuit, deflecting its bizarre stance of wanting to protect the market leader over consumers. Microsoft posted a similar response to the CMA in the UK also a couple of months ago and apparently confirmed that what many of us had already expected was true.
When Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced, it was revealed to be a timed exclusive, complete with a countdown timer regarding how long it will remain a PlayStation exclusive. This led many Xbox fans to expect that the FF7R would eventually make it to Microsoft’s console, but unfortunately, that was not the case. Square Enix’s “timed exclusives” periods seem to be only about the PC versions of their games, since FF7R is now available on Steam for Windows.
In case you missed it yourself (spotted before Korea news)Microsoft confirmed this in its response to the UK regulator, claiming that Sony had in place permanent exclusion deals for games like Bloodborne, Final Fantasy XVI, and Silent Hill 2 Remake.
In addition to having explicit exclusive content, Sony has also entered into arrangements with third-party publishers that require Xbox to be “excluded” from the pool of platforms on which those publishers can distribute their games. Some notable examples of such agreements include Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix) and Bloodborne (from Software), Final Fantasy XVI (Square Enix), and the recently announced Silent Hill 2 Remastered (Team Bloober).
While there was some hope that Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 16 might eventually hit the Xbox, it looks like this oft-overlooked clip from October’s CMA file could put the final nail in the coffin.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a fantastic action RPG that reimagines the classic JRPG of the 90s, with infectious combat mechanics and dozens of hours of nostalgic exploration to engage in. Final Fantasy 16 also looks fairly stellar as well, and Bloober Team’s Silent Hill 2 Remake is going to be a great project, given the franchise’s legendary status. Xbox won’t get any of it, which is said to strengthen Microsoft’s case for exclusive content.
Microsoft has been involved in similar deals in the past, though not as often recently. Games like Ryse and Sunset Overdrive of the Xbox One generation can be compared to Sony’s deal for Bloodborne, for example. Microsoft generally has not entered into deals with third parties that completely preclude competing platforms from privileges that previously existed on competing platforms. Rise of the Tomb Raider was briefly an Xbox exclusive, and Microsoft was skewered in the broader gaming press for daring to make such a deal – something Sony now does with impunity, nobody criticizes.
Microsoft acknowledged in the same CMA briefing that exclusive strategies are not uncommon. At the end of the day, Sony is doing the right thing for its customers and shareholders, and Microsoft’s acknowledgment that games like Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield will be entirely Xbox exclusives reflects the importance of exclusive content. Regulators wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) argue that Netflix or Disney+ need to exchange content with each other for free. It would be great if all the content was available on one platform for the sake of convenience, but if there is only one platform, who knows how high the prices will go up? Competition is what drives prices down, and competition is what inspires innovation in new features, higher quality, and new technology.
To me, the Sony exclusive deals are further evidence that Microsoft should be allowed to take over Activision Blizzard. For Microsoft to compete with Nintendo and Sony, it needs more of those big-name franchises under its banner, and for consumers, bringing them into Xbox Game Pass is the kind of value only the competition can provide. Regulators’ bizarre pandering to the status quo is literally hurting competition – something they are supposed to nurture.
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