Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says he’d “love” to get rid of console game exclusives but blames Sony for defining the market and competition. Nadella made the comments as part of testimony in FTC v. Microsoft today, discussing Microsoft’s cloud gaming strategy, internal gaming targets, and much more.
When discussing the ideal of Microsoft being focused on software across as many platforms as possible, Nadella was asked about Xbox exclusives. Here’s what he said:
If it was up to me I would love to get rid of the entire exclusives on consoles, but that’s not for me to define especially as a low share player in the console market. The dominant player there [Sony] has defined market competition using exclusives, so that’s the world we live in. I have no love for that world.
Nadella’s comment comes a day after it was revealed that Sony’s PlayStation chief Jim Ryan admitted that Xbox exclusives like Starfield weren’t anti-competitive. Ryan also claimed publishers think Xbox Game Pass is “value destructive” and that it was important for Sony to invest “massively” in first-party development and publishing to get an edge on Xbox Game Pass competition. Ryan also admitted it’s not in Microsoft’s best interests to make Activision games available on all platforms:
Microsoft lawyer: Do you think it would be better if Microsoft kept Activision games on PlayStation?
Ryan: Yes, I do.
Microsoft: So you do believe it’s in Microsoft’s best interests to make Activision games available on multiple platforms?
Ryan: No, I don’t agree with that.
Microsoft: So if you were running Xbox, would you recommend making Call of Duty and other Activision games exclusive to Xbox and PC?
Ryan: That’s a hypothetical question that I don’t wish to answer.
Microsoft: So you don’t get to answer?
Ryan: I don’t have enough knowledge to answer that question.
Nadella has just answered how he’d really like to run the Xbox business, but he’s fully aware exclusives drive console adoption and sway subscription numbers. Would he really give up exclusives in an ideal world? Would Halo actually launch on PlayStation?
Given how important triple-A content is now to consoles and the future of subscription services and cloud gaming, it’s going to be a battle between Sony, Microsoft, and others for the future of exclusive content — as Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard shows.