Microsoft vs Sony: a war in two parts in video games

Posted Oct 8, 2021 9:15 AM M.

Microsoft vs. Sony. This frontal duel of consolidators has occupied center stage in video games for twenty years and is condemned to remain at the top of the card for many years. But now there are several possible readings. The first: the traditional sales record for the latest generation of consoles that the two groups launched almost a year ago.

In this account, an advantage for Sony, it has already emerged victorious from the previous confrontation between its PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. It announced to have surpassed 10 million units of its PlayStation 5 in mid-summer and recently it would have exceeded 12 million copies, the site VGChartz believes, according to which the Xbox Series would touch 7.5 million.

But another battle takes place in parallel between the two giants who continue to advance their pawns and take positions: that of content. The reason ? The urgent need to build a wide catalog of video game programs with the arrival of “games in the cloud”, forces these two historical manufacturers to fundamentally change if they want to become one or more of the future “Netflix of video games”.

Bethesda’s mega acquisition

In November 2020, Microsoft dealt a serious blow with the mega acquisition of Bethesda for 7.5 billion dollars. A way to get licenses for Doom, The Elder Scrolls, or Fallout. For its part, Sony, in recent months, has been betting more on small, highly targeted swaps, sometimes aimed at securing its long-standing relationships with certain industry players, such as Housemarque, than Nixxes, than Bluepoint.

“These are more defensive moves,” says Cédric Lagarrigue, founder and former head of French publisher Focus Home Interactive. “Which makes sense. With its franchises The Last of Us, God of War or Spider-Man, Sony now has a catalog of exclusive content that still remains above what Microsoft offers, even if nothing is frozen, “he continues. Who is now a senior advisor to the investment bank Alantra.

Still, Microsoft also has beautiful licenses and does not hesitate to launch them simultaneously in physical and online stores, as well as Game Pass, its paid subscription service that provides unlimited access to a large number of titles. A kind of equivalent of “day and date” in the audiovisual sector between cinema and SVoD.

“Microsoft’s offer is more interesting with a much more updated catalog”

“In the next quarter, we will launch ‘Forza Horizon 5’, ‘Halo Infinite’ or even ‘Age of Empires IV’, details Ina Gelbert, director of Xbox France. Today, Game Pass gives access to several hundred games. The group also sets on exclusive occasions with third-party studios, such as with the title “Tell Me Why” by French director Dontnod.

“Microsoft’s offering is more interesting with a much newer catalog, whereas the games are never on ‘day one’ on PS Now, which is almost uninteresting. Sony would rather sell them than make them available to their subscribers, ”argues Charles Louis Planade, a video game financial analyst at TP ICAP.

What is shown in the numbers. Launched in June 2017, Microsoft’s Game Pass reached 18 million subscribers in the latest score earlier in the year, up from 3.2 million on PS Now last May. “Microsoft is by far the first in this field,” explains Charles Louis Planade. But the race has only just begun. “

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