TECH NEWS – Four Republicans and six Democrats in the US House of Representatives and Senate say Sony is illegally undermining Microsoft’s share of the Japanese games market.
Several US politicians claim that Sony is engaging in unfair business practices to keep Microsoft out of the Japanese games market. The allegations against Sony were made public on Thursday at a US Senate trade hearing, and members of the House of Representatives wrote two letters urging the government to act.
Microsoft has long struggled to gain a foothold in the Japanese games market: its Xbox consoles have never sold very well in the country, consistently underperforming Sony and Nintendo.
As reported by Axios, 11 members of Congress from both political parties are pressuring the Biden administration to intervene in Sony and Microsoft’s competition for the Japanese games market. On Thursday, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell criticised the Far Eastern company’s control of the Japanese video game market. She went so far as to call it a “monopoly”. Ten members of the House of Representatives also sent letters to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. They called on the federal government to take action.
Senator Cantwell also raised her concerns with Tai at Thursday’s hearing. According to Cantwell, PlayStation accounts for “98% of the high-end gaming market”. The US politician said Sony had created this stranglehold through exclusive contracts and payments to publishers. The company’s tactics also violate Japanese antitrust laws. He also criticised the Japanese government for not investigating these tactics. Cantwell then asked Tai how the government would work to create a fairer playing field in the Japanese market. Tai declined to comment directly on the giant. But he promised that the senator’s concerns would be addressed.
Meanwhile, a letter signed by four House of Representatives Republicans alleged that Japan is not investigating Sony’s conduct and may be violating US-Japan trade agreements.
Cantwell’s five Washington state Democrats also wrote a letter on similar issues. It is not clear what precisely the senator means by “high-end gaming market”. However, this category does not include the hugely successful Nintendo Switch, which remains Japan’s best-selling modern console despite the recent explosion in popularity of the PS5.
It is also unclear whether Microsoft has any role to play in the sudden interest of Congress in the Japanese games industry. As Axios points out, these accusations are similar to those made by the Japanese company against Microsoft in connection with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Microsoft lobbyists have also discussed these issues with US lawmakers. However, neither Microsoft nor Sony is willing to comment on the situation.
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