Sony has been trying to convince antitrust regulators that the Activision Blizzard acquisition would make Microsoft a dominant force in game subscription services. However, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan has reportedly told employees that the company doesn’t view Game Pass as a potential threat to PS Plus.
According to anonymous sources, Jim Ryan held a Q&A session with employees earlier this month. “When we consider Game Pass, we’ve sold more PS5’s in two years than they have gathered subscribers and they’ve been doing that for 6-7 years.”
The SIE boss added that while PS Plus is “just shy of 50 million subscribers”, Game Pass is still “in the low 20s”, and Microsoft has a lot of work to do to grow its subscriber base.
These comments contradict what Ryan and Sony previously told antitrust regulators about competition between Xbox and PlayStation. The Japanese company has repeatedly tried to argue that the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard would hurt both developers and gamers, giving Microsoft an unfair advantage in several areas, including subscription and cloud gaming.
For example, in its response to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sony noted that “Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly.” Here is what the text on page 12 reads:
Microsoft already has a substantial lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and is expected to grow substantially in the future. The multi-games subscription tiers of PlayStation Plus considerably lag, with fewer than [REDACTED] the number of subscribers.
The growth that Game Pass may experience after adding Activision Blizzard games there is one of the main concerns of the US and European regulators. The US Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to block the merger, saying that it could give Microsoft an “unfair advantage in subscription services and cloud gaming.”
The CMA is currently conducting an in-depth investigation into the deal over a potential threat to competition. It is also under scrutiny in the EU, where the European Commission has launched a probe to see if the record-breaking deal will hurt competition in PC, console, cloud gaming, and subscription services.
If Jim Ryan’s recent comments are true, they don’t line up with Sony’s public statements and its attempts to convince regulators that the $68.7 billion deal would help Microsoft dominate the global games market.