Sony Worries Microsoft Will Only Give It a ‘Degraded’ Call of Duty

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Late last month, UK regulators said they no longer believed a proposed Microsoft-owned Activision would bar Call of Duty games from PlayStation platforms, a reversal of earlier preliminary findings. Even if you grant that premise, though, Sony says that it’s still worried Microsoft could give PlayStation owners a “degraded” version of new Call of Duty games in an effort to make the Xbox versions look better.

In a newly published response (PDF) to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Sony says the regulators’ recent turnaround is “surprising, unprecedented, and irrational.” The company takes specific issue with the regulators’ “lifetime value” modeling, which Sony says heavily undervalues what an Xbox-exclusive Call of Duty would be worth to Microsoft. Beyond those technical concerns, though, Sony says it worries that Microsoft might subtly undermine PlayStation “simply by not making it as good as it could be.” That could include small changes to the game’s “performance [or] quality of play,” but also secondary moves to “raise [Call of Duty’s] price [on PlayStation], release the game at a later date, or make it available only on Game Pass.” Microsoft would also “have no incentive to make use of the advanced features in PlayStation not found in Xbox,” Sony says, an apparent reference to the PS5 controller’s advanced haptics and built-in audio capabilities.

In its own newly filed response (PDF), Microsoft reiterated that it has “no intention to withhold or degrade access to Call of Duty or any other Activision content on PlayStation.” That follows on a March filing where Microsoft promised Sony parity on Call of Duty’s “release date, content, features, upgrades, quality, and playability.” But Sony’s response reflects a continued lack of trust in such promises. The company cites detailed analyses from the likes of Digital Foundry in saying that “the technical quality of Modern Warfare II was similar across platforms” in today’s market. After a merger, though, Sony argues that “Microsoft would have different incentives because degrading the experience on PlayStation would benefit Xbox, PlayStation’s ‘closest rival.'” “This kind of ‘partial foreclosure’ strategy might ‘trigger fewer gamer complaints’ than full Xbox exclusivity for Call of Duty, Sony says, while also allowing Microsoft to ‘still secure revenues from sales of Call of Duty on PlayStation for a transitional period,'” reports Ars. “But Sony says the long-term results of this kind of ‘degraded’ PlayStation version would be the same as a full PlayStation ban: Call of Duty players abandoning Sony and moving to Microsoft’s platforms.”

“Such a move would ‘seriously damage our reputation,’ Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told the CMA in a recent hearing. ‘Our gamers would desert our platform in droves and network effects would exacerbate the problem. Our business would never recover.'”

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Sony Will Explore Building Electric Cars

At CES in Las Vegas this evening, Sony’s Chairman, President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida showed off a brand new prototype of its Vision S concept electric car, and announced that the Sony Group is starting a new division — the Sony Mobility Inc — which will start commercializing its electric vehicles. TechCrunch reports: On the CES stage during the Sony press conference, the company showed off its existing Sony Vision-S sedan, which was revealed at CES last year. This year, it also flexed a new model in the lineup, the Sony Vision-S SUV prototype. “The excitement we received after we showed off the Vision-S really encouraged us to further consider how we can bring creativity and technology to change the experience of moving from one place to another,” said Yoshida, before revealing the new Vision-S SUV prototype. “This is our new Vision-S SUV. Vision-S has been developed on a foundation of safety, adaptability and entertainment. Safety has been our No. 1 priority in creating a comfortable mobility experience. That has not changed when building this SUV. A total of 40 sensors are installed inside and outside of the vehicle to monitor safety.

“In terms of adaptability, we have connectivity that enables us to build a vehicle that continuously evolves. It also makes it possible to personalize the cabin for each user. With 5G, it enables high speed, high capacity and low-latency connectivity between the in-vehicle system and the cloud. The Vision-S also evolves mobility as an entertainment space,” said Yoshida. “The Vision-S also evolves mobility as an entertainment space, including gaming experience and audio. We have learned more about mobility through our exploration of Vision-S and through our partners who have supported this effort.” There’s been a lot of EV announcements today. Not only did GM reveal an electric version of the Chevy Silverado, but Chrysler announced plans to go all-electric by 2028, starting with the Airflow, “a concept crossover that appears to be close to ready for production,” reports Ars Technica.

BMW also unveiled color-changing paint for its vehicles that relies on the E-ink electronic paper technology found in e-readers like the Kindle.

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