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Sony is prepared to cut Activision Blizzard from PlayStation 6 plans

Should Microsoft acquire Activision Blizzard, Sony will respond by locking details about its next console away so those plans can't be used against it.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 22, 2023

3 Min Read
Logo for Sony's PlayStation console.

Sony is prepared to restrict Activision Blizzard's knowledge of its PlayStation 6 plans should the publisher be acquired by Microsoft. Per Axios, an April deposition reveals the PlayStation maker will "no longer share confidential details" of its upcoming console to prevent such information being used by Microsoft. 

Talking to FTC regulators, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said Sony "could not run the risk of a company that was owned by a direct competitor having access to that information."

Late last year, Sony argued a successful merger would hurt the next PlayStation console the hardest. It believes the PlayStation 6 would be "extremely vulnerable" to consumers switching over to the next Xbox, which would (it assumes) tout Activision franchises such as Call of Duty and Overwatch as key selling points. 

With threats to ice out Activision Blizzard on console information, that means future Call of Duty games (or Diablo, Crash Bandicoot, etc.) would be theoretically run worse on the PS6. A move like that would be felt by developers and players alike, and ruin public perception for all companies involved.

Ryan continued this thread in his deposition, saying that under Microsoft, Activision Blizzard could potentially make games that don't take advantage of PlayStation-specific features. Though this section of the document was heavily redacted, he indicates that there was some conflict with Mojang over Minecraft after the developer was acquired by Microsoft in 2014. 

"Their incentives," Ryan continued, "at post-acquisition, would be to optimize its overall Xbox business, not the business of Activision."

Is PlayStation actually threatened by the Microsoft-Activision merger?

Since last year, Sony has said anything and everything it can to make clear it doesn't want the merger to go through. It's argued that it would take a decent-sized hit to third-party revenue, and said it wouldn't be able to create a genuine equal to Activision Blizzard's shooter series. 

As revealed during the current FTC v. Microsoft hearing, Ryan ultimately believes that PlayStation will be alright if the merger happens. According to an unsealed email, he said he was "pretty sure [Sony] will continue to see Call of Duty on PlayStation for years to come."

"We have some good stuff cooking," he wrote in the in the email. "I’d rather this didn’t happen, but we’ll be OK, we’ll be more than OK."

Sony itself has been suspiciously quiet on formerly third-party studios that it now owns. At time of writing, it hasn't indicated how it'll handle Bungie's Destiny 2 or Sony San Diego's MLB The Show, both of which are multiplatform titles. 

As Sony and Microsoft continue to wage war over what games may (or may not) come out on their future consoles, it's likely that neither will end up looking as virtuous or victimized as they claim to be. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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