While Sony and Microsoft continue to battle the latter proposed a $69 billion dollar purchase of Activision Blizzardmore and more people—relatively powerful and influential people—were brought into 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 game market” earlier today, and is calling trade representatives of the US to discuss the issue. in 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 other international trade talks—”I was told that Sony controls a monopoly of 98% of the high-end game market, but the Japanese government has allowed Sony to engage in blatant anti-competitive behavior through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers, who establish games which is among the most popular in Japan.”
I will pretend to talk to him Final Fantasy there.
Accusing Japan’s Federal Trade Commission of not investigating this “exclusionary conduct”, he then asked US Trade Representative Katherine Tai “What do you think we can do to address these issues and create a level playing field ?”
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In response, Tai said that while there are currently discussions between the US and Japanese governments about the digital economy, “This is new for me, but let me take it back and I’m happy to follow up with you and your team about it. ”.
Aside from making this international trade and diplomatic relations from the video game industry, it’s disheartening to see Cantwell casually put these things on the record. Like, we all know politicians can’t be experts on everything they talk about, that’s part of the job (and the reason they have advisers, and why they have lobbyists), but anyone with even the slightest understanding of the video game market knows that this is a truly strange thing to say.
He refers to the Japanese market with his “98% of the high-end game market” statistic, one very carefully selected (by the USA’s own FTC last year) to exclude PC, Nintendo and mobile games, and which in this case, the perceived monopolistic PlayStation against the underdog Xbox (which is true in Japan, a market that Microsoft has been independent and relatively failed to crack for over 20 years). Which of course explains why the Japanese government never gave a fuck, because they would know that the video game market is bigger and more complex than pitting two consoles against each other like it was back in 1992.
On a global scale, Sony does not even have a 98% share of God of War market, a series they own it, as Steam gets 30% of every PC sale. Everyone from Epic to Microsoft (both American companies) are handing out “exclusive deals and payments to game publishers” all the time. And if he wants to talk about monopolies, the latest Steam stats for PC show that 96% of the platform’s install base uses Windows.
It’s strange that, in so many factual and believable ways that he can criticize Sony’s opposition to the agreement, he’s managed some inaccurate statistics and direct attacks on the Japanese government.. Good! Let’s end this blog and leave it to them, considering that during his political career The largest individual contributor of Cantwell’s campaign finances is Microsoft the employees .