11 U.S. Congress Members Accuses Sony of being Anti-Competitive In Japanese Market

Citing Exclusive Deals

Both U.S. Democratic and Republican members of Congress, –11 in total – are accusing Sony of making ‘anti-competitive’ moves in the Japanese video game market to the Biden administration, according to an Axios report.

The accusation in question is that Sony’s PlayStation subsidiary is blocking US-based companies from making waves in the market by citing third-party exclusive deals while adding these business practices could conflict with the U.S. trade deals with Japan. The political move was first made public on Thursday after Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell brought their concerns up during a trade hearing.

“Today, we write to bring to your attention the imbalanced Japanese video game market, which we are concerned may be a result of a discriminatory trade practice that could violate the spirit of the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement,” a letter signed by four Republicans from the House, addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Ta and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging action.

The letter goes on to allege that Sony has 98% of the “high-end console market in Japan” and that third-party exclusive deals are signed in order to keep games from releasing on the platforms of Sony’s US-based competitors  which “may violate Japan’s antitrust laws.” While they don’t strictly name that competitor in the Japanese video game market, the obvious one that comes to mind is Microsoft which might have an unconfirmed hand in pushing this conversation.

“Sony’s anti-competitive tactics deserve discussion, and we welcome a further investigation to ensure a level playing field in the video game industry,” Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said in a statement to Axios.

Over the years, PlayStation has acquired some key titles through third-party exclusive deals that still have not made the jump to Xbox consoles including Final Fantasy VII Remake, Final Fantasy XVI,  a last-generation title like Street Fighter V, and much more.

The wording of “high-end console market” competitor in Japan is interesting as the wording does eliminate Nintendo from this conversation, a platform that performed better than the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in the region last month. It’s clear that one side is attempting to make a “PlayStation vs Xbox” battle in the political landscape anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how the Japanese government will respond to these accusations.