US senator criticizes Sony’s monopoly on exclusive video games

As Sony and Microsoft continue to fight each other Activision Blizzard’s proposed $69 billion purchasemore and more people—relatively powerful and influential people—are embroiled in the debate.

One of those people is Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell (representing Washington state), who raised the specter of Sony’s monopoly on the “high-end gaming market” earlier today, and went as far as to call on the US trade representatives to discuss the matter. with Japan as part of ongoing digital trade negotiations.

During a Senate finance committee hearing on “The President’s 2023 Trade Policy Agenda,” Cantwell said—among many other international trade talks—“I was told that Sony monopolized 98% of the premium games market, but that the Japanese Government allowed Sony to engage in blatant anticompetitive behavior through proprietary transactions and payments to publishers games, making the games one of the most popular in Japan.”

I’ll pretend she’s talking about The Last Illusion there.

Accusing the Japanese Federal Trade Commission of not investigating this “exclusionary practice,” she then asked U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai “What do you think we can do to address these issues?” this and create a level playing field?”

In response, Tai says that while there are currently discussions between the US and Japanese governments over the digital economy, “This is new for me, but let me take this back and I’m happy to follow up with you and your team on this”.

Aside from turning this from a video game industry thing into an international trade and diplomatic relations thing, it’s wild seeing Cantwell casually put this stuff on record. Like, we all know that politicians can’t be experts on everything they’re ever talking about, that’s part of the job (and is why they have advisors, and is why there are lobbyists), but anyone with even a passing understanding of the video game market knows this is a truly bizarre thing to say.

She’s referring to the Japanese market with her “98% of the high-end game market” statistic, one very carefully selected (by the US FTC last year) to exclude PC, Nintendo, and mobile games, and in this case, PlayStation is supposed to monopolize the incompetent Xbox (which is true). In Japan, a market in which Microsoft has been free and quite unsuccessful for over 20 years). This, of course, explains why the Japanese government never cared, as they would have realized that the video game market is a larger and more complex market than putting two consoles side by side. compete with each other as it is still in 1992.

On a global scale, Sony doesn’t even have a 98% market share God of War market, a variety they own, as Steam is getting 30% off every PC sale. Everyone from Epic to Microsoft (both US companies) handing out “exclusive deals and payouts to game publishers” anytime. And if she wants to talk about exclusivity, Steam for PC’s latest stats show that 96% of the platform’s install base is using Windows.

Curiously, with so many realistic and believable ways she could criticize Sony’s opposition to the deal, she tackled some extremely inaccurate statistics and direct attacks. Go on to the Japanese government. Ah okay! Let’s end this blog and leave them to it, noting that throughout her political career The biggest personal financial contributors to Cantwell’s campaign are Microsoft workers .


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