What you need to know
- Microsoft is fighting with three major regulators over its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard.
- As part of the proceedings, Microsoft has revealed that Sony has set up “opt-out” agreements for third-party games on PlayStation.
- It looks like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy 16, and Silent Hill 2 Remake will never be coming to Xbox, despite the partner publishers’ silence on the matter.
- Microsoft also listed From Software’s Bloodborne as an example of a third-party developed game that has been blocked from non-PlayStation platforms, which could imply that the frequently requested Windows PC port is also out of the question. . However, Sony has been more PC-friendly in recent years, so I’ll keep the hopium close for this one.
The drama over the Activision Blizzard acquisition is heating up as Microsoft steps up its engagement with regulators.
yesterday, Microsoft publishes its response to the United States FTC for its lawsuit, skewering his bizarre position of wanting to protect the market leader over consumers. Microsoft also posted a similar response to the UK CMA a couple of months ago and it seemed to confirm that what many of us already expected was true.
When Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced, it was revealed to be a timed exclusive, complete with a countdown timer for how long it would stay exclusive to PlayStation. This led many Xbox fans to hope that FF7R would finally come to Microsoft’s console, but sadly, that simply hasn’t been the case. It seems Square Enix’s “timed exclusivity” periods refer only to the PC versions of their games, given that FF7R is now available on Steam for Windows.
In case you missed it (seen by KoreaXboxNews)Microsoft confirmed it in its reply to the UK regulator, alleging that Sony has put in place permanent opt-out agreements for games like Bloodborne, Final Fantasy XVI and the upcoming Silent Hill 2 Remake.
“In addition to having outright exclusive content, Sony has also entered into agreements with third-party publishers that require Xbox to be ‘excluded’ from the set of platforms these publishers can distribute their games on. Prominent examples of these agreements include Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix), Bloodborne (From Software), the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI (Square Enix) and the recently announced Silent Hill 2 remastered (Bloober team).”
While there’s been some hope that Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 16 will eventually come to Xbox, it looks like this oft-overlooked passage from October’s CMA presentation may put the final nail in the coffin. Silent Hill 2 will launch on PC alongside PS5 with a 12-month exclusivity window, but the language here raises another question mark over whether or not Silent Hill 2 will eventually come to Xbox.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an excellent action RPG that reimagines the classic ’90s JRPG, with infectious combat mechanics and dozens of hours of nostalgic exploration to engage with. Final Fantasy 16 also looks pretty excellent, and Bloober Team’s Silent Hill 2 Remake will be a fascinating project, given the franchise’s legendary status. However, Xbox may not get any of them, arguably strengthening Microsoft’s case for exclusive content.
Windows Central’s opinion
Microsoft acknowledged in the same CMA report that proprietary strategies are not uncommon. Of course, Microsoft has engaged in similar deals in the past, though not so recently. Games like Ryse and Sunset Overdrive from the Xbox One generation could be compared to Sony’s deal for Bloodborne, for example. However, Microsoft generally has not entered into agreements with third parties that completely exclude competing platforms from the franchises that previously existed on competing platforms. Rise of the Tomb Raider was a brief temporary Xbox exclusive, and Microsoft was biased in the broader gaming press for having dared to accept such a deal, something Sony now does with impunity, in the face of no one’s criticism.
At the end of the day, Sony is doing the right thing for its customers and shareholders, and Microsoft’s admission that games like Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield will be completely Xbox exclusives reflect the importance of exclusive content. Regulators wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) argue that Netflix or Disney+ need to trade content with each other for free. It would be great if all the content was available on one platform for convenience, but if there was only one platform, who knows how high the prices would be? Competition is what drives prices down, competition is what inspires innovation in new features, higher quality, and new technology.
To me, Sony’s exclusivity deals just represent more evidence that Microsoft should be allowed to acquire Activision Blizzard. And sure, contracts may expire, deals may change over time, but at least for the foreseeable future, it looks like Xbox will be locked out of Final Fantasy and quite possibly Silent Hill 2 for the foreseeable future.
For Microsoft to compete with Nintendo and Sony, it needs more of those big-name franchises under its banner, and for consumers, including them in Xbox Game Pass is the kind of value only the competition can deliver. The strange complacency of the status quo on the part of regulators is literally hurting competition, something they are supposed to encourage.
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