As Microsoft seeks to finalize its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the UK government is moving forward with its investigation into the deal. In a statement highlighting concerns over industry competition, Sony published its own observations regarding the deal—which include some interesting Game Pass numbers.
Sony’s official response outlines, as spotted by @EvernbornSaga, the company’s concern over Microsoft’s “ability and incentive to lessen current and future competition in multi-game subscription services” noted in the CMA’s (Competition and Markets Authority) decision to refer.
As part of Sony’s observation, published back in October, it claims:
“Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly. Microsoft already has a substantial lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and is expected to grow substantially in the future. The multi-game subscription tiers of PlayStation Plus considerably lag, with fewer than [redacted] the number of subscribers.”
Sony’s “29 million subscribers” claim regarding Xbox Game Pass doesn’t seem to match Microsoft’s previous reports. On Twitter, games industry analyst @DomsPlaying notes that 29 million Game Pass subscribers are higher than Microsoft’s last update earlier this year of 25 million subscribers.
Sony cites market data and analytics firm Ampere Analysis, and the PlayStation company’s language indicates Microsoft has already hit that subscriber milestone with Game Pass. However, Ampere Analysis games researcher Piers Harding-Rolls noted this isn’t the firm’s current number, unless it’s a forecast. The reference comes from Harding-Rolls’ GDC talk on the future of streaming services.
The 29 million is not our current number (unless a forecast!). I think the citation is related to Microsoft’s dominance of the multi-game subscription market
In my GDC talk I showed this chart, which is what is being referenced pic.twitter.com/FJO5oi0qRj
— Piers Harding-Rolls (@PiersHR) November 23, 2022
Sony’s response notes several points from the CMA’s original statement, including worries that Activision’s content will be limited to Game Pass only—a situation that would not have happened had Microsoft not pursued its acquisition. In October, Microsoft responded to the UK agency’s criticisms, claiming it has a “number of significant disadvantages” compared to competitors like Sony.
The UK government began its probe earlier this year and later asked for public opinion on the Xbox-Activision deal. Around the world, other regulators have started investigations over the same concerns around competition within the games industry. The European Commission recently issued a statement regarding its probe, while the US Justice Department is looking into three investors over insider trading.
Andrea Shearon is a freelance contributor for IGN covering games and entertainment. She’s worn several hats over her seven-year career in the games industry, with bylines over at Fanbyte, USA Today’s FTW, TheGamer, VG247, and RPG Site. Find her on Twitter (@Maajora) or the Materia Possessions podcast chatting about FFXIV, RPGs, and any series involving giant robots.