Xbox signs exclusive Game Pass deals with publishers that block games from coming to PlayStation Plus

Xbox signs exclusive Game Pass deals with publishers that block games from coming to PlayStation Plus
Written by Alexis

Recent revelations from Sony’s poorly redacted documents have furnished several valuable insights into the confidential world of gaming that were intended to remain under wraps. While such revelations are mostly PlayStation-centric, intriguing information about its fierce competitor, Microsoft, has also come to light.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, also said that he would like to remove the concept of “exclusive” games as a whole despite that statement these documents seem to be quite on the contrary

According to these documents, Microsoft has reportedly entered into exclusivity deals to ensure that certain gaming titles are released on Xbox Game Pass on day one. The agreements simultaneously aim to prevent the launch of these games on competitors’ subscription services, which could possibly include PlayStation Plus. The documents did not specify any titles, but Sony asserts this strategy as proof of Microsoft’s concerted efforts to gain exclusive rights to certain products.

Sony’s reaction to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has been less than enthusiastic. Sony Interactive Entertainment President, Jim Ryan, recently referred to Game Pass as a service that could potentially undermine the value of games in general. Deviating from Microsoft’s approach, PlayStation has decided to adopt a different philosophy. It aims to continue its strategic growth by avoiding offering day one exclusives to PlayStation Plus subscribers.

In light of these revelations, Sony has requested the court to remove the poorly censored documents, although their contents have already been widely circulated online. Amongst the revealed information are intriguing insights into the production costs of popular games such as The Last of Us Part 2 and Horizon Forbidden West. Details about PlayStation’s annual collections, notably from the high-performing Call of Duty series, have also been uncovered.

This leaked information provides a fascinating peek into the wheelings and dealings of the gaming industry’s giants. As Microsoft and Sony continue their head-to-head competition within the gaming arena, fans and industry observers alike will surely remain captivated. With the console wars heating up and the race for exclusivity intensifying, it will be interesting to see how both companies navigate the complex dynamics of the gaming industry.

In a recent development, poorly redacted documents from Sony have surfaced, exposing hidden details about the gaming industry’s major players, PlayStation and Xbox. Deciphering the information in these obscured documents reveals intriguing insights, from exclusivity agreements to impressive sales figures of popular games. Here is what the unveiled information tells us.

One-on-One with Call of Duty
Image from Horizon Forbidden West

The documents suggest that the last game included in Sony’s ABK CoD contract will be a Call of Duty title slated for release in late 2023. Furthermore, the 2022 release, Modern Warfare 2, reportedly sold 4.4 million units on PlayStation in its premiere week. This massive sales number goes hand-in-hand with the observation that PlayStation users playing Call of Duty generated an estimated yearly spending of around $13.9 to $15.9 billion worldwide from 2019 to 2021. In 2021 alone, over a million PlayStation gamers exclusively played Call of Duty on their consoles, with 6 million spending 70% of their gaming time on the title, reinforcing the franchise’s immense popularity among PlayStation users.

Fascinating Details of Top Titles

Why The Last of Us Part 2 is my Game of The Year

Delving deeper into the powerhouse franchises, the documents reveal that Horizon Forbidden West’s development spanned five years, starting in 2017 and culminating in 2022 with its release. The game reportedly had a hefty development cost of $212 million and involved over 300 full-time employees working on it.

On the other hand, The Last of Us Part 2 had an extended development timeline, taking approximately 70 months from inception in 2014 to release in 2020. With a peak workforce of around 200 full-time employees, the game development came with a price tag of $220 million.

Strategic Moves in the Gaming Market

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) identified Call of Duty as their biggest third-party franchise, reportedly generating $873 million in the United States in 2021. Interestingly, the documents hint towards a bidding war conflict between Microsoft and SIE, vying for the exclusivity rights of Valheim and Immortality on their respective subscription services. Eventually, Microsoft emerged victorious in both bids.

In contrast to Microsoft’s approach, Sony usually does not press for subscription exclusivity for games on PS Plus, and it appears Microsoft frequently mandates day one Game Pass titles not to be available on competing subscription services.

A Look at PlayStation 5 Owners

image from Call of Duty Vanguard

The PlayStation 5 owner base provides further insight into console ownership trends. According to the documents, less than 20% of PS5 owners in the US also own an Xbox Series X/S. In contrast, almost half of PS5 owners also possess a Nintendo Switch.

More Insights

Notably, a significant chunk of SIE’s revenue, about 34%, comes from the sale of PlayStation consoles and accessories. Interestingly, for third-party games sold, SIE usually receives the margin between the retail price on the PlayStation Store and the wholesale price agreed upon with the publisher, which is typically around 10%.

These revelations offer a fascinating deep-dive into the inner workings and strategic moves of major players in the gaming industry. As more details slowly come to the fore, fans and industry insiders are keenly awaiting their impact on the future landscape of the gaming industry.

Continuing with additional insights drawn from the redacted Sony documents, we delve further into the operations of major gaming industry players and their unique strategies in the contested gaming marketplace.

Exclusivity Contracts and Subscription Services

Call of Duty Vanguard amazing VFX

Outlined in Sony’s statements, Microsoft has reportedly forged exclusivity contracts for certain games on Xbox Game Pass to obstruct their launch on competitor’s subscription services, which might include PlayStation Plus. This tactical move by Microsoft indicates a strong push for platform exclusivity to lure gamers to Xbox Game Pass.

Sony, however, typically opts for a different strategy – one that does not focus on subscription exclusivity for games included on PlayStation Plus, showcasing a divergent approach from Microsoft.

The Call of Duty Factor

The Call of Duty franchise has unfailingly been a goldmine for PlayStation. The documents reveal that in 2021 alone, more than a million PlayStation players played nothing but Call of Duty on their consoles, demonstrating the game’s unmatched popularity. This immense engagement with Call of Duty led PlayStation users to generate an impressive annual platform spending of approximately $13.9 to $15.9 billion worldwide from 2019 to 2021.

PlayStation 5 Ownership trends

The redacted documents also provide a glimpse into PlayStation 5 ownership trends. It’s noted that less than 20% of PlayStation 5 owners in the United States also own an Xbox Series X/S. On the other hand, nearly a half of PS5 owners also own a Nintendo Switch, signifying a strong cross-console ownership in the region with Nintendo.

Cost of Development

Insight into the production costs of blockbuster games like Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us Part 2 is also given. According to the disclosures, upgrading and improving these high-grade games involved significant investment. The development of Horizon Forbidden West, spanning over five years with more than 300 full-time employees, cost around $212 million. Similarly, The Last of Us Part 2 had approximately 200 full-time employees working for about 70 months and cost about $220 million to develop.

Competing Bids for Game Exclusivity

Sony and Microsoft appear to have been in a bidding war for title exclusivity on their respective subscription platforms for games like Valheim and Immortality. However, Microsoft emerged as the final victor, winning the exclusivity rights for both titles.

Sales and Revenue

The Call of Duty series has been a significant revenue driver for Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), reporting a generation of $873 million in US spending in 2021. Moreover, third-party games contribute significantly to SSIE’srevenue. For such games, SIE typically receives the margin between the retail price charged on the PlayStation store and the wholesale price negotiated with the publisher, which is usually around 10%.

These shared details sketch a vivid picture of the gaming industry’s behind-the-scenes mechanics, providing gamers and industry observers with exclusive insights that would typically remain unknown. As more redacted information continues to surface, the gaming community is riveted, speculating about what impacts these unveiled strategies might have on shaping the broader direction of the gaming industry.

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