That treasure trove of a document filed by Microsoft to the Brazilian competition authorities on Tuesday, in response to Sony’s objections to its efforts to buy Activision Blizzard, contains another absolute gem. In it, Microsoft took time out to tell Sony just how it could (read: should) better run its revamped PS Plus service such that it wouldn’t need to worry so much about competition like, say, Xbox Game Pass.
As Kotaku reported earlier, the document—sent as part of one of the many international competition enquiries into Microsoft’s attempt to purchase Activision Blizzard—accuses Sony of creating deals with publishers that prevent games from being allowed to appear on Game Pass, which it cites as an example of Sony’s own competitive behavior. This is accompanied by lists of examples of Sony’s own first-party titles that aren’t released to competitor consoles, all to make the point that were Microsoft to make Activision games Xbox exclusives, it would be in keeping with the objector’s own actions.
But what’s delighted me so much is noticing a paragraph buried in there in which Microsoft stops to just drop some uninvited advice on Sony, for how the Japanese company could do a much better job of running PS Plus. Microsoft’s primary advice? Add first-party PlayStation titles on day one.
The statement from the Portuguese-language document (translated by a friend of Kotaku) begins, “Sony could be able to leverage the high quality of their first-party games even more by making them available on PlayStation Plus at launch day. Such a strategy might be able to quickly speed up the growth of the service’s userbase as a response to the competitive pressure of Game Pass (or any other service) and [the strategy] is not adopted by Sony, even when it comes to the new and updated PlayStation Plus.”
There’re so many zingers and slights in there. First of all, just including the unsolicited advice is such a bitchy move. “Hey Sony, are you worried? Are you? Well, maybe you could do a better job by following our example?” Then there’s the “quickly speed up the growth of the service’s userbase,” or to rephrase, “Is your PS Plus audience all teeny weeny? Aw.” Then that glorious, “even when it comes to the new and updated PlayStation Plus.” Like, even Microsoft was completely flummoxed that Sony didn’t do this as part of the relaunch.
Just in case that wasn’t snarky enough, Microsoft finishes the little section off by saying, “Such a move by Sony could make PlayStation Plus even more attractive in order to be able to rival eventual strategies by competing game publishers—to the benefit of gamers.”
It’s so dickish! What it boils down to is Microsoft being like, “If you think us buying Activision Blizzard is going to threaten your business, maybe you ought to run your business better in the first place? And here’s how!”
It’s worth running the entire 27-page document through Google Translate for your own entertainment, as it is just the snarkiest piece of writing.
Don’t confuse my delight at the childish jabs as picking a side in this entire maelstrom. God knows, I hate the games industry buying itself up, heading toward the music industry’s deathly state of being almost entirely owned by just four companies. But as I watch in horror, I’ll delight at the pettiness along the way.