Microsoft accused by Sony of bullying devs with tough rules on game exclusivity

Xbox ‘pressuring indies’ with publishing demands

Sony has launched a scathing attack on Microsoft’s content submission rules for publishers and developers.

An executive at the PlayStation group said there is a problem with “these threats and these serious issues that Microsoft is throwing at publishers [and developers]”.

Rob Dyer, SCEA’s publisher relations boss, was speaking in reference to new revelations concerning Xbox’s official Content Submission and Release Policy.

As exposed by Eurogamer, Xbox’s dev submissions protocol requests that PS3 games must ship “at least simultaneously” on Microsoft’s console.

The guidelines request the game “must have at least feature and content parity on-disc with the other video game platform versions in all regions where the title is available”.

If these conditions are not met, Microsoft may not allow the game to be published, the document read.

In response, Sony’s Dyer has criticised Microsoft and said the tough rules are put in place to protect its "inferior technology".

“It’s something that we’ve known about for quite some time,” he told IndustryGamers.

“I think [Microsoft’s policy] is protecting an inferior technology. I think they want to dumb it down and keep it as pedestrian as possible so that if you want to do anything for Blu-ray or you have extra content above 9 gigs or you want to do anything of that nature, you’d better sure as heck remember that Microsoft can’t [tolerate] that."

Dyer said this was a “huge problem” for the industry, before turning his attention to other Microsoft policies on indie publishing.

“If you want to be able to do something on Xbox Live, you need to have an office, there’s all kinds of restrictions,” he said.

“We don’t do that. We don’t have any kind of policy like that. We’re not pushing that. In fact, we’ve gone the other way to try and encourage publishers through our Pub Fund. We want to welcome the indies and we’ve seen that become a very big part of our business because indies are recognising that we aren’t demanding a pound of flesh in order for them to get a game published on our network."

The Pub Fund is Sony’s initiative to sign exclusive PS3 content. It promises to match half an indie project’s dev costs providing the game is exclusive to PS3, PSP or PS Vita. Sony carefully selects projects that it will support through the fund.

Dyer said that such deals can result in repercussions from Microsoft’s Xbox division.

“Potentially, any time we’ve gone out and negotiated exclusive content, publishers are getting the living crap kicked out of them by Microsoft,” he claimed.

“The problem we’re having right now is these threats and these serious issues that Microsoft is throwing at publishers – it’s only going to dumb down what could potentially come out for a number of these games.

“And whether people are willing to stand up to Microsoft on this stuff or not is up to that publisher and they do it at their own risk," he added.

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