As it continues to paint itself as the plucky underdog, Microsoft has told regulators that it’s actually Sony that has the monopoly.
At the moment, Microsoft is the third largest company in the world, behind Apple and a Saudi oil business. They’re often number one, depending on market conditions, but when it comes to video games they’re usually left in the wake of both Sony and Nintendo.
Only once has an Xbox console not being the lowest selling hardware of a generation, with the original Xbox versus the GameCube, and in that case both were completely dwarfed by the success of the PlayStation 2.
It often doesn’t seem that way, especially in the UK – which together with the US is the only place where Xbox generally does well – but Microsoft has been trying to hammer home just how badly they usually do in Europe, in particular, in order to convince regulators that they should be allowed to buy Activision Blizzard.
UK regulators have already said they’re against the deal (although not if Microsoft drop their interest in Call Of Duty) and this week Microsoft has been meeting with European officials, who are equally dubious.
Microsoft has used a two-prong approach, on the one hand holding up its deals with Nintendo and Nvidia as proof that it only wants to bring Call Of Duty to more consoles not less, and has no intention of making it an Xbox exclusive (or at least not for 10 years).
Their other line of argument is to point out just how badly the Xbox sells in Europe, with a big pie chart at their press conference showing how PlayStation commands 80% of the European market and Xbox just 20%.
Even on a worldwide scale that only rises to 70% versus 30%, although that completely ignores Nintendo, who have outsold all current consoles with the Switch.
The figure rises to 96% for PlayStation in Japan but again that creates a very lop-sided view of the market, given how dominant Nintendo is in its home country.
What’s most obviously missing is any stats for the US, where the Xbox and PlayStation traditionally run neck and neck. Whether regulators will realise Microsoft is presenting the information to try and make them look as small as possible, while overstating PlayStation’s influence, is unclear.
Given Microsoft refuses to release sales figures for the Xbox it’s impossible to verify these percentages but according to them, ‘These numbers have been remarkably steady for two decades. Even last year, when there were issues with Sony’s supply chain, they came back strong.’
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