The newest senator to accuse Sony of anti-competitive behavior is Kevin Cramer. The CEO of Sony has received an open letter from a US senator asking for details on the company’s gaming exclusivity agreements.
Kevin Cramer, a Republican senator from North Dakota, claims he wrote the letter to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida “regarding its anti-competitive behavior and to request information on the company’s acquisition agreements”
Cramer writes to Yoshida that he is writing “to express concern about Sony’s efforts to protect its gaming console business from competition” in the letter (which was first noticed by Axios).
He continues by saying: “I am concerned Sony’s dominance of that market, and its efforts to perpetuate its current position imperils an important economic development opportunity for North Dakota.”
According to Cramer, North Dakota has “developed a strategy to lead the nation in computer science and cybersecurity education,” and “preparing students for careers in gaming is an important component of this effort.”
Given the expanding importance of the casino sector to North Dakota, claims Cramer,
“I am troubled by reports Sony appears to leverage its dominance to exclude competition rather than enabling choice for players and developers.”
He says: “Increasingly, it appears Sony’s dominance is attributable to exclusionary practices, including paying game publishers not to distribute their games on rival platforms.”
He continues by asserting Sony’s attempt to oppose Microsoft‘s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is an example of its “anticompetitive conduct,” saying it’s “even more troubling” that “Sony’s lobbying of the FTC and other regulators began shortly after Sony itself acquired Bungie.”
Cramer requests the following items from Yoshida as a last request in his letter:
- All contracts that grant Sony the sole authority to distribute a game created by a third party
- Any warranties that Sony has with other parties that forbid them from publishing their games on other platforms
- every internal business document “outlining the strategic justification” for Sony’s acquisition of Bungie
- Any correspondence regarding video game competition with the US government or regulatory organizations.
I sent Sony Corporation a letter regarding its anti-competitive behavior and to request information on the company’s acquisition agreements. https://t.co/9hRkuw5JFF
— Sen. Kevin Cramer (@SenKevinCramer) April 13, 2023
With his letter, Cramer has joined the list of US Congressmen who have charged Sony with anti-competitive behavior.
Two letters last month, one from six Democrats and the other from four Republicans, accused Sony of purposely striking exclusivity deals with outside publishers to prevent Xbox from establishing a presence in Japan.
The letters urged Katherine Tai, the US trade representative, and Gina Raimondo, the US secretary of commerce, to discuss the matter with Japan during trade negotiations.
Both letters argued that Japan unfairly harms a US corporation (Microsoft) by failing to take action against these alleged anti-competitive actions.
Over the years, Sony has obtained several third-party games as PlayStation console exclusives, some of which have been produced by Japanese firms. The company’s relationships with Square Enix, which led to the exclusion of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XVI from Xbox, are among the most noteworthy examples.
Another notable example from the previous generation was Capcom’s Street Fighter V, which has only been available on the PS4 and PC since its 2016 release.
According to Axios, Microsoft has previously acknowledged that its government affairs team has spoken with lawmakers about Sony’s actions, which may help to explain why these political accusations against Sony have come at the right time.