On March 22nd, 2022, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reversed its decision to block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, citing concerns about the deal’s potential impact on competition in the gaming industry.
In response to the CMA’s decision, Microsoft released a statement welcoming the reversal and expressing its commitment to working with the CMA to address its concerns.
“We are pleased that the CMA has decided to reconsider its previous decision,” Microsoft said in its statement. “We remain committed to working with the CMA to ensure that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard does not harm competition in the gaming industry.”
However, Sony, one of Microsoft’s main competitors in the gaming industry, criticized the CMA’s decision and called it “irrational.”
In a statement released shortly after the CMA’s reversal, Sony expressed its disappointment with the decision and emphasized the need for continued competition in the gaming industry.
“We are disappointed by the CMA’s irrational decision to reverse its approval of the Microsoft Activision acquisition,” Sony said in its statement. “Competition is critical to the success of the gaming industry, and we believe that this decision will harm both competition and consumers.”
It certainly seems like the tide is shifting toward Microsoft’s favor regarding this acquisition, irrespective of Sony’s objections.
The Holidays are just days away, but before everyone takes a well-deserved break prior to 2023, Microsoft has responded to the FTC regarding the contentious Activision Blizzard purchase.
Microsoft has published its response to the FTC’s lawsuit regarding the Activision Blizzard acquisition. Similar to Microsoft’s response to the UK’s CMA. The gloves are now seemingly off as Microsoft has pointed out that Sony has been adding “exclusion” terms on deals for third-party games on Playstation for years. This includes titles like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy 16, Silent Hill 2 Remake, and From Software’s Bloodborne, which will most likely never see the light of day on an Xbox console.
According to Microsoft:
“In addition to having outright exclusive content, Sony has also entered into arrangements with third-party publishers which require the “exclusion” of Xbox from the set of platforms these publishers can distribute their games on. Some 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).”
It’s odd that the FTC as well as the CMA have taken the position of protecting Sony, which is the market leader, and have been adding exclusionary terms in contracts with third-party publishers, blocking popular titles from appearing on competing platforms. That seems anti-competitive to me, but not to the FTC and CMA apparently.
All in all, it appears that Microsoft is preparing to build a case and fight this in court if the FTC and CMA attempt to block the deal. According to the terms of the merger, Microsoft would owe Activision Blizzard $2 to $3 billion if the deal is blocked by regulators. So it is pretty safe to assume that Microsoft is not just going to give up.
Consumer electronics company TCL, which makes decent TVs at competitive price points, really wants you to believe that Sony and Microsoft are going to be refreshing the PS5 and Xbox Series X soon. So you really should be considering upgrading your boob tube.
According to Polish news outlet PPE, TCL presented at an electronics conference in Poland and the company believes that a “PS5 Pro” and “new Xbox Series X|S” will arrive between 2023 and 2024.
TCL’s presentation showed a history of consoles, starting with the original PS4 and Xbox One in 2013. TCL then notes that the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X were released a few years later. The presentation goes on to show the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2020. Naturally, that means a refresh should come out next year or so, right? RIGHT!?!
At the end of TCL’s presentation, they claim that Series X / PS5 PRO will provide 60-120 FPS resolution at 4K, and have the ability to display 8K. TCL also believes that the new consoles will have AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT technology. Shit, the TV that I bought specifically for my PS5 and Xbox Series is a total piece of shit now. I should consider buying a fancy new TV from TCL.
Sorry, TCL, but I think a mid-generation refresh is a bit further out, given that the current builds of the Xbox Series X and PS5 are still relatively hard to come by.
Last week, Sony announced a list of games that would launch with PlayStation Plus when it rolls out in Asia, and yours truly had a shit fit on how underwhelming it was. Today, I stand corrected.
The list that was released today on the PlayStation website is far more extensive, including a mix of PS4 and PS5 games, as well as a “Classics Catalog,” which is a good thing. Sony also goes on to promise that more games will be added soon. So maybe PlayStation Plus won’t be entirely dead on arrival when it matches up with Xbox Game Pass.
Better yet, it was announced that games on the service may feature enhancements, like up-rendering, rewind, and quick save, thereby taking advantage of the PS5’s horsepower. Gamers can also opt for various scaling, aspect ratios, and video filters, to give their classics some retro crustiness.
PlayStation Plus is scheduled to launch in Japan next, and then rolling out to the USA and Europe in June.
I know that I give Sony a lot of shit, but I’m hard on them because I love them, and want them to succeed. I believe in tough love and as a gamer, when all game companies are competitive, then gamers win. So to see Sony looking at something so futuristic and cool like the metaverse, I become genuinely excited.
According to a Reuters article, Sony is positioned to be a leader in the metaverse. To be clear, when I say metaverse, I’m not talking about the dystopian garbage that is being pushed by Facebook, or as they like to be called now, Meta.
Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at a strategy briefing on Wednesday that “…the metaverse is at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies, and anime intersect…”
Even though Sony is obviously all in on the PlayStation 5, experts have pointed out that they are willing to dip their toes into cross-platform titles. They have even gone as far as purchasing Bungie, where according to Yoshida, “We believe it will be a catalyst to enhance our live service game capabilities… (It) represents a major step forward in becoming multi-platform.”
The metaverse is very much in its infancy and just a general concept, but I’m old enough to remember the very early days of the internet, and the metaverse is a natural and exciting evolution.
Sony has reportedly registered a new PlayStation 5 model in Japan, however, it may just be for cosmetic or internal changes. So for those hoping for a PlayStation 5 Pro, you need to slow your roll. Sony is having enough trouble getting the current iteration of the PS5 onto store shelves.
If anything, this is simply an internal change to make the console more efficient to build, which could lead to easing the manufacturing process and in turn, getting more consoles into the hands of eager gamers.
According to Sony’s latest investor call, if they project selling 18 million PS5 consoles during this financial year, then they better find a way to get these onto store shelves.
The Xbox Series X and Playstation have been hard finds for over a year since they launched. A global chip shortage is one of the many reasons for the short supply, and according to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, the short supply will continue until 2024.
In a recent interview on CNBC Data Check, Gelsinger who previously mentioned that the chip shortage will last until 2023 has updated his prediction, tacking on another year. Mr. Gelsinger believes that shortages are likely to continue because essential manufacturing tools are not readily available, so manufacturing cannot keep up with increasing demand.
“That’s part of the reason that we believe the overall semiconductor shortage will now drift into 2024, from our earlier estimates in 2023, just because the shortages have now hit equipment and some of those factory ramps will be more challenged…”
– Pat Gelsinger via CNBC
For what it’s worth, things do seem to be improving as availability has improved. One can’t simply walk into a store and purchase a new Xbox Series X or PS5 easily, but if you stay on your toes, patient gamers are finding them online.
On the Xbox Series X|S front, in particular, people are getting their hands on console. Could be the reason why they are selling so well. Who would have thought.
According to GameDeveloper.com, Sony has begun communicating with developers that games that cost $34 or higher will be required to have time-limited demos on the Playstation Plus Premium tier. These demos must be at least two hours long.
Apparently, many devs felt blindsided by this announcement, as they were informed about the policy via an update on Sony’s developer portal.
As someone who has been gaming a long time, I can give two shits over game demos.
Sony has announced dates for the global rollout of Playstation Plus, their weak sauce response to Xbox Gamepass.
Asia markets (excluding Japan) — targeting May 23, 2022
Japan — targeting June 1, 2022
Americas — targeting June 13, 2022
Europe — targeting June 22, 2022
These are targets mind you, and not set in stone dates, so things can change.
In case you forgot, Playstation Plus has a tiered pricing model.
PS Plus Essential — $60 per year with two monthly games, discounts, cloud saves, and online multiplayer.
PS Plus Extra — $100 per year with “up to 400” PS4 and PS5 games.
PS Plus Premium — $120 per year with “340 additional games” including titles from the PS1, PS2, PSP, and (cloud steaming only) PS3 catalog, as well as PlayStation Now-style cloud streaming and “time-limited game trials.”
Sony still has not announced what games you’ll get, which makes it difficult to gauge whether this is a good value or not.
Last week, it was reported that Microsoft is working on a program that will allow ads in free-to-play Xbox games. Internal sources have stated that the ads wouldn’t disrupt gameplay and will be similar to billboards in a racing game, as to be unobtrusive.
Of course, whenever Microsoft does something hot button, the Playstation fanboys hem, and haw and go on and on and fucking on until I puke. Then all of a sudden Sony announces that they’re doing the same thing and all is quiet.
The in-game ads on Playstation games are expected to launch by the end of this year and similar to the Xbox, will be limited to inconspicuous areas, like the aforementioned billboards.