New Sony Smart Car Is A Billboard That Plays PS5 Games

Announced last week at CES 2023, Sony and Honda’s new smart car prototype seems to be taking a page from Elon Musk’s Tesla, letting folks boot up PlayStation 4 and 5 games via its interior screens. But Sony may also be planning to use the car as a way to advertise shit on the outside of it while you drive around. Welcome to the future. It sucks.

The Afeela, Sony and Honda’s new smart EV (electric vehicle), is a joint venture between the two large companies designed to leverage both Sony’s advanced tech and Honda’s decades of car manufacturing. The result is a new, super-fancy, and technology-packed prototype EV that Sony claims will be hitting the streets in a few years. And when it does, apparently, you’ll be able to use it to play PS5 games.

Now to be clear, you won’t be able to just pop a PS5 disc into the car as Afeela will utilize cloud streaming to let owners and passengers play PS5 and PS4 games on the go, provided you have a decent signal or internet connection. You’ll also be able to watch movies and TV via the various screens inside the car.

But the Afeela doesn’t just have screens on the interior. No, like a weird future episode of a Pimp My Ride reboot, the Afeela also features an exterior widescreen display. Sony call’s this the car’s “Media Bar” and says it will let owners display a variety of data including the current weather and battery level of the car. It can also be used to display different colors or images, too. Yasuhide Mizuno, CEO of Sony Honda Mobility, says with the media bar, owners can “express” themselves “by sharing various types of information to people around [the car].”

CES / Sony / Honda

Sony also has some less cool plans for this new media bar. During its CES showcase, Sony briefly displayed an ad for Spider-Man: No Way Home on the outside screen. Not much more was said about this brief moment from the event, beyond Mizuno suggesting Sony was talking to partners about how they can create “fun and exciting” interactions using the media bar. That sounds a lot like Sony wants Afeelas to be mobile advertising billboards.

Of course, all of this is still a few years away as Sony and Honda say the Afeela isn’t coming out until 2026. But as a tease of what to expect from future smart cars, it’s not looking good. Considering how ad-riddled smart TVs already are in 2023, I’m not looking forward to cars getting covered in screens and ads, too. I guess I’ll barely notice as I play a laggy PS5 game via the cloud in the backseat of the Afeela. Anyway, I thought the future would be cooler.

Microsoft, Sony And Nintendo All Skipping E3 2023

This was supposed to be the year, after industry setbacks and a global pandemic, that E3—once the brightest centre of the video game universe—came back “recognizably epic” as a live show for the first time since 2019. Reports today indicate, however, that it will be doing so without any of the console industry’s power players.

A story on IGN this evening says “all three of gaming’s first-party console manufacturers appear poised to skip E3’s big return”, meaning that for the first time in the live show’s history not a single one of them will be at an event that was traditionally their highlight of the whole damn year.

Update 2/24/23 12:17 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Nintendo confirmed to Kotaku that it would not be attending E3 2023 because the event “didn’t fit into our plans,” but doesn’t rule out attending in the future:

We approach our involvement in any event on a case-by-case basis and are always considering various ways to engage with our fans. Since this year’s E3 show didn’t fit into our plans, we have made the decision to not participate. However, we have been and continue to be a strong supporter of the ESA and E3.

While this is a definitive final straw for E3, this has been coming for a while. Nintendo stopped holding big E3 press conferences ten years ago (though the company had a showroom floor presence at the last live show in 2019), and Microsoft and Bethesda recently pivoted to holding their own showcases alongside the E3 festivities. Sony also began passing on E3 stuff a few years back.

While Microsoft won’t be at any official E3 events, boss Phil Spencer says that, as they’ve done the last few years, Xbox will in 2023 be doing stuff alongside E3 so that any press and industry folks in town for that show will be around for theirs as well. It’s not known what Nintendo and Sony will be doing in E3’s stead, if anything, though Geoff Keighley’s rival Summer Games Fest will be taking place at roughly the same time.

It’s important to note here that this isn’t the same E3 as the olden days. Events specialists ReedPop took over planning of the show last year, and said:

For years, we’ve listened, heard, and studied the global gaming community’s feedback. E3 2023 will be recognizably epic—a return to form that honors what’s always worked—while reshaping what didn’t and setting a new benchmark for video game expos in 2023 and beyond.

How they’re going to be “recognizably epic” without any major platform holder in attendance is anyone’s guess, though ReedPop did say in a statement to IGN that:

As we spent much of 2022 refining how E3 2023 would take shape, reflecting on the feedback we solicited, we did not send a single contract to an exhibitor until the start of this month. We have received a tremendous amount of interest and verbal commitments from many of the biggest companies in the industry, and when we are ready to announce the exhibitors we are confident it will be a lineup that will make the trip to Los Angeles well worth it for the industry and consumers alike.

           

Microsoft President Carrying Sony CoD Deal In Pocket, Weirdly

Earlier today, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Xbox boss Phil Spencer talked briefly to the media about its ongoing attempt to consume Activision Blizzard King, continuing once again to act like the larger spat is mostly about Call of Duty. At one point, Smith said he was carrying a contract with him that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation after the sale goes through, claiming that it all came down to Sony actually signing the thing. Conveniently, he was ignoring that the hold-up on the contract was happening because, y’know, the deal itself–which could potentially have an industry-wide impact that far outstrips Call of Duty.

For those of you just tuning in, Microsoft has spent the last 12 months trying to buy Activision Blizzard for the astoundingly large amount of $69 billion. However, almost since the moment the deal was announced, regulators and governments around the world, as well as rival companies like Sony, have voiced opposition to the deal. These entities don’t want the deal to go through because it could give Xbox too much power over the industry by owning many of the biggest brands in gaming, such as Starfield and Minecraft (among other issues). And Microsoft has spent the last year jumping from courtroom to courtroom and country to country, trying to convince everyone that one massive corporation buying up another massive corporation is totally good for the industry and not horrible at all. It also keeps trying to get Sony to sign a deal on Call of Duty as a part of these efforts.

So today—as part of this ongoing worldwide tour of courtrooms and regulatory councils—Microsoft execs were in Brussels, Belgium as part of a behind-closed-doors hearing with the European Commission, which (like many other groups) has concerns about the Activision deal. After that hearing, Smith and Spencer held a brief media…briefing (heh) and mostly went over the same things they’ve said before about how Sony is already dominating the game industry and how Microsoft needs Activision Blizzard to compete. All of these arguments were trotted out while also pointing out that Nintendo had just signed a 10-year deal with the company to bring Call of Duty to Switch, a deal that’s come across as Microsoft trying to prove it won’t keep some of its biggest franchises to itself should the deal go through. And if it’s willing to put forth a decade-long deal on Call of Duty, the thinking goes, Microsoft is clearly not trying to build a monopoly through this deal.

Read More: Everything That’s Happened In The Activision Blizzard Lawsuit

It was during this part of the briefing, as reported by GameIndustry.biz, that Smith revealed that he was actually carrying the contract for a similar deal that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles. It was in an envelope in his pocket.

“We haven’t agreed on a deal with Sony, but I hope we will,” Smith said, “I hope today is a day that will advance our industry and regulation in a responsible way. Sony can spend all its energy trying to block this deal, which will reduce competition and slow the evolution of the market. Or they can sit down with us, and hammer out a deal.”

Of course, bringing the actual contract with you on your trip to Europe is clearly just a way to dramatically remind people that Sony isn’t playing ball and is pushing back against the proposed Activision deal over concerns that it could lose access to Call of Duty, a series Sony in the past has called “essential.” And to be clear: Even after signing that deal, Sony could still lose Call of Duty after the initial decade if Xbox doesn’t offer up another, similar contract in 2033. ( It’s also just weird to bring it with you, beyond using it as a prop, unless Smith thought Sony was going to rush the stage at that moment and sign…) And it’s also another example of Microsoft acting like everyone is concerned about Call of Duty just because Sony seems to be focused mostly on that part of the deal.

In fact, at one point during the briefing, Smith literally said that the “number one concern that people have expressed about this acquisition is that Call of Duty will be less available to people.”

That’s a wild thing to say! And it just ignores all the other valid issues people and governments have with this deal, like how it could make the industry smaller and more susceptible to collapse, how it could position Game Pass as a more powerful force that could begin to hurt studios that don’t make deals with Xbox, or just the basic reality that—historically speaking— corporate mergers are awful for consumers.

In other news involving this seemingly-never ending saga, Microsoft also confirmed it had signed a 10-year deal with NVIDIA to allow GeForce NOW players to stream Xbox PC games and Activision PC games, including the all-important CoD, if the deal is approved and happens. This, along with the Nintendo deal, is clearly being promoted heavily by Microsoft, right before today’s hearing, as evidence that the company is not going to lockdown Call of Duty or other Activision Blizzard games to one platform or service.

Spencer even tweeted about the deal, adding that the company is “committed to bringing more games to more people – however they chose to play.” Well, unless you want to play Bethesda’s next big RPG, Starfield, on a PS5. Then uh…tough luck!

Sony Might Have To Reveal What It Pays For Exclusive Deals

The last time we were checking in on the legal tussle over the proposed $69 billion sale of Activision Blizzard, Sony was complaining of “harassment” at the hands of Microsoft, who were asking to see all kinds of records, emails and internal documentation as part of the case’s discovery process.

As Game Developer report, though, the FTC’s chief administrative judge D. Michael Chappell has tossed out most (though not all) of Sony’s complaints, meaning that Microsoft is about to get access to a ton of “relevant documents” that PlayStation didn’t want released, ranging from its anti-trust lawyer’s external emails to a number of Senior Vice President’s documentation to the records of former employees.

Most interestingly, though—and I say this on a personal basis, not because I’m any kind of law fiend—is this from the FTC:

Microsoft argues that the Complaint in this case makes a number of allegations regarding high-performance video game console developers’ exclusivity arrangements with video game publishers. Microsoft states that it is aware that SIE requires many third-party publishers to agree to exclusivity provisions, including preventing the publishers from putting their games on Xbox’s multi-game subscription service, and that understanding the full extent of SIE’s exclusivity arrangements and their effect on industry competitiveness will assist in its defense.

Judge Chappell says this is because “the nature and extent of [Sony’s] content-licensing agreements are relevant to the Complaint’s allegations of exclusivity arrangements between video game console developers and video game developers and publishers.”

In other words, Microsoft is free to dig up how much Sony is paying publishers to keep games off Game Pass, and find out any other details or conditions associated with putting a game on a PlayStation console at the expense of any Xbox platforms or services.

I know corporate stuff is usually incredibly boring as hell, but this is one of the rare exceptions where I think seeing some numbers—and those numbers would surely be made public as part of court hearings—would be fascinating. Seeing games become exclusive, or tied up with conditions, is something that directly affects us as fans and customers. It’d be nice to know just how much money is changing hands to make sure that happens!

Note however that if Microsoft does decide to pursue this, they won’t be publishing an all-time compendium; they’re limited to deals made after January 1, 2019 (to limit the work involved in searching records, mainly), so any revelations would only be able to include exclusivity arrangements made after that date.

Sony More Paranoid Than Ever About Xbox Owning Call Of Duty

In new documents, Sony seems worried and more paranoid than ever about the prospect of Microsoft owning Call of Duty should that company’s deal to consume Activision Blizzard go through. It goes so far as suggesting that Microsoft could raise the price on future Call of Duty installments or potentially release a buggier, lower-quality port of the game on Sony’s PlayStation consoles.

A quick recap: Microsoft has spent the last 12 months trying to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. But many regulators, governments, and rival companies around the world have opposed the merger. These entities have concerns, fearing the deal would give Xbox too much power over the video game industry. In response, Xbox execs and lawyers have spent the last year or so trying to convince everyone that a massive corporation buying up another massive corporation is totally fine, devoid of any negative repercussions. In an effort to appease lawmakers and regulators, it also keeps trying to get Sony to sign a deal that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles. (Microsoft struck a similar deal with Nintendo last month.) And now Sony sounds worried that even after signing the suggested deal, there still might be some problems.

Read More: Everything That’s Happened In The Microsoft-Activision Merger Saga

In new documents submitted to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sony lays out some hypothetical ways in which Microsoft could circumvent the proposed 10-year deal (or any future deal) it is offering PlayStation. Among these possibilities, Sony posits a situation in which a new Call of Duty game debuts but is buggier on PlayStation, which it says could lead to gamers choosing to buy the shooter on Xbox in the future.

Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty. Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.

Sony doesn’t go as far as to say Microsoft and Activision would purposely release a worse, buggier port of CoD on PlayStation consoles. But the broader point the company is trying to make is that Microsoft could still figure out ways to hurt the PlayStation brand through its stewardship over Call of Duty, even if a fair deal was figured out and approved by the CMA and other regulators. For example, in another section of the doc, Sony further suggests that Microsoft could choose to “ignore PlayStation-specific features” like the DualSense controller’s fancy haptic triggers, or not invest as much money or time into CoD’s multiplayer experience on PS5 or PS4.

Kotaku contacted Microsoft and Activision for comment.

It’s unlikely Microsoft will ship a buggier Call of Duty on PS5

Of course, all of this is starting to sound very paranoid on Sony’s part. While Microsoft certainly wants people to buy Xbox consoles and purchase Call of Duty installments on them rather than elsewhere, I find it very hard to believe that the company would purposely release a worse version of a game on PS5.

Sure, that could hurt Sony a bit, but it would also look bad for the franchise, and Activision and would likely end up hurting its Call of Duty brand more in the long run.

These docs, which were filed originally in late February and released today, come after the CMA announced provisional findings that the proposed merger would threaten competition in the gaming market, and even suggested that in order to get the deal approved, Activision Blizzard would need to sell off the Call of Duty brand first. That’s unlikely to happen, so expect more wheeling and dealing and complaining from all involved parties.

Update 3/8/2023 7:00 p.m.: A Microsoft spokesperson pointed Kotaku to a specific section—3.11—in the company’s own response to the UK’s CMA:

By ensuring parity between Sony, as the largest console platform, and Microsoft, the proposed remedy will ensure that CoD is, in fact, made available on “equal terms” (which has not been the case for the past 20 years), benefitting Xbox and PC gamers, as well as PlayStation gamers. Moreover, the proposed remedy will allow Sony to place CoD in its own subscription service PlayStation Plus.

The company also sent over this statement in response to the CMA’s provisional findings that suggest the deal would threaten competition:

Since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, we have offered solutions which address its concerns and increase the deal’s benefits to UK players and game developers.

These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes. The decision now lies with the CMA on whether it will block this deal and protect Sony, the dominant market leader, or consider solutions that make more games available to more players.

Update 3/9/2023 11:00 a.m.: Activision sent Kotaku a statement about Sony’s CMA response:

Microsoft has shown its commitment to making more games available on more platforms, across console, PC, cloud and mobile. The solutions presented are legally binding, and beyond that, our passionate player community would hold Microsoft accountable for keeping its promises.

It’s unfortunate for consumers that Sony continues to deny the opportunity for a long-term agreement and is undermining the deal to protect its two-decade dominance in video games. In an industry dominated by growing competitors from protected markets – who have massive talent pools and strong libraries of IP – this merger will allow us to continue to create incredible games and make sure those games reach more people, however they want to play.

Sony Microsoft’s Battle Over Activision Is A Full Blown Circus

Over a year after it was first announced, Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision Blizzard deal is being picked apart under a microscope by regulators. It still appears to be crawling towards its inexorable conclusion, but things are getting very messy, and incredibly silly, in the process.

The latest stunt? Activision’s chief communications officer accused Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan of refusing to even consider an agreement that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years, apparently in the hopes of sabotaging the biggest tech merger in history.

“I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal,” Ryan reportedly said in a close-door meeting in Brussels, Belgium last month. “I want to block your merger.”

That’s according to Activision’s Lulu Cheng Meservey, who you may remember from past Twitter threads such as Elon Musk critics need not apply, unions are bad actually, and “Sony is ‘the first of us.’” Responding to a follow-up question by The Verge’s Tom Warren, she confirmed the comment was made on February 21, the day Microsoft and Sony met for closed door hearings with EU regulators.

The comment, which Sony has yet to confirm or deny, is at once both obvious and an unusual breach of the hyper secrecy around everything that’s become standard operating procedure in the video game industry. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer propped the door open last fall when he told The Verge that his company had previously presented a proposal to Sony to extend its current contract to bring Call of Duty to PlayStation. “I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion,” Ryan responded at the time. Meservey’s tweet yesterday was the equivalent of kicking that door down.

Read More: Everything That’s Happened In The Microsoft-Activision Merger Saga

It’s also just the latest chess move in an absurd game of two tech behemoths jockeying for position in the global gaming market by trying to work the refs. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which Microsoft has accused of being in Sony’s pocket, suggested last month that it simply buy every part of Activision Blizzard except the Call of Duty one.

Microsoft recently responded with proposed deals to put the blockbuster franchise on Switch and keep it on PlayStation for at least 10 years. Sony countered that there was nothing to stop Call of Duty from being buggier on PlayStation than Xbox if Microsoft owns it. Microsoft said nuh uh. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said the UK would become “death valley” if it messes the deal up.

Meanwhile in the EU, Reuters recently reported that Microsoft seems poised to prevail, while in the U.S. the Federal Trade Commission is still preparing its antitrust lawsuit that seems engineered more to extract concessions than to completely scuttle the merger. And Microsoft has already prevailed in other large markets like Brazil.

This entire process has been enlightening and useful in so far as it’s forced companies to reveal things they never would have otherwise, including that Game Pass does cannibalize some sales on Xbox, and that Sony doesn’t think Electronic Arts’ Battlefield will ever truly be able to compete with Call of Duty. But it’s also been a ridiculous sideshow in how much it’s revolved around a single game and a few metrics like console market share.

Last year’s Modern Warfare II proved the multiplayer shooter series remains incredibly popular and profitable. At the same time, video games have shown time and again how foolhardy and perilous it is to try and predict what players will want five years out. The Xbox 360 ate the PS3’s lunch. Sony returned the favor with the PS4. Everyone thought Nintendo would go out of business after the Wii U. The Switch is now the best thing it’s ever made. Hey, wait, I’ve got an idea. What if instead of buying Activision Blizzard, Microsoft just made the Switch 2?

Sony, Microsoft, and Activision did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Correction 3/10/23 11:58 a.m. ET: The Elon Musk thread wasn’t deleted, just the part of it referencing “context collapse.”  

                     

Congress Finds Time To Yell At Sony On Microsoft’s Behalf

Senator Ron Wyden expresses concerns about the U.S. digital policy.

Screenshot: U.S. Senate Committee on Finance

There are so many issues that Congress could be focusing on right now. Banking regulations following SVB’s collapse, for example. Or helping Americans who struggle with basic living expenses. Maybe they could be working on a long-overdue fix of our broken healthcare system. Instead, they’re very concerned about the possibility that Japan is being unfair to American companies such as Microsoft. Now both Democrats and Republicans are sending letters to top Biden officials asking them to tell Japan to give Xbox a bigger share of their market.

Originally reported by Axios, 10 members of Congress signed two letters addressed to the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “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,” said the Republican letter. It also reiterated the claim that Sony has 98% of the console market in Japan, and that it makes exclusive arrangements to keep popular games from Xbox.

This 98% of the console market claim excludes PC, Nintendo, and mobile games. In 2020, the Nintendo Switch accounted for 87% of consoles sold in Japan. And every video game distributor pays for exclusivity deals—which is something that sitting representatives should probably know about video games before trying to push for foreign trade policies. To support their somewhat confusing claims, the letter cites an article from GamingSmart—a “gaming content publisher that provides sensitivity calculators and other gaming-related content” that only has 32 followers on Twitter.

The letter by Democratic representatives said that Japan’s policy of “non-prosecution” towards Sony is hurting U.S. exports. “Such policies also can distort trade in the United States and third countries by providing monopoly rents at home that can be leveraged for competition abroad,” said the letter. Again, they’re talking about a business practice conducted by every major games distributor in the world. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, etc. etc.

Kotaku reached out to the offices of Tai and Raimondo, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

This weird push to help Microsoft is interesting since it’s about an entirely different country’s antitrust laws. Meanwhile, the U.S. is in shambles. Can we get a little universal healthcare? Maybe forgive everyone’s student loans? Can we put some regulations on the finance fuckos who played around with government bonds? No? Well, carry on then.

Sony Lashes Out At Government Over Microsoft Activision Deal

While not set in stone, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) now appears likely to approve Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, and Sony seems pissed. In its latest regulatory filing it blasted UK regulators over their “surprising, unprecedented, and irrational” reversal after initially pushing back against the mega acquisition.

CMA approval is one of the last major obstacles facing the unprecedented deal to merge Xbox and Call of Duty, and Sony hasn’t been letting that happen quietly. The PS5 manufacturer’s latest tantrum happened on Thursday (via Tom Warren at The Verge) with a new filing that criticizes UK regulators for essentially accepting Microsoft’s math when it came to forecasting how many users Sony might lose if Call of Duty became an Xbox exclusive.

In February, the CMA “provisionally concluded” that Microsoft would have a financial incentive to pull Call of Duty from PlayStation consoles, and suggested that the tech giant would have to leave the entire franchise out of the merger to get it approved. A month later, the CMA changed its tune, and after receiving more data and input from Microsoft, announced a new provisional finding that basically said the opposite. With the CMA set to issue its final decision before the end of April, Sony has responded with a detailed list of all the ways it thinks the regulators messed up.

At the risk of getting very deep in the weeds for a moment, the controversy centers around how the impact of big blockbuster exclusives is measured. Microsoft claims that any players who switched to Xbox to play Call of Duty would not make up for the total loss of all Call of Duty spending on PlayStation, thus incentivizing it to keep the series on Sony’s consoles (in addition to promises it won’t make the series exclusive anyway). Sony argues that the players who switch consoles to keep playing Call of Duty are precisely the diehard fans who spend the most money on new releases and in-game microtransactions, suggesting that Microsoft might eventually pull the colossal franchise exclusively into its own console ecosystem after all.

Call of Duty operators hunt for antitrust violations.

Screenshot: Activision

“The CMA’s reversal of its position on its consoles theory of harm is surprising, unprecedented, and irrational,” Sony wrote. It continued:

The Provisional Findings (“PFs”) assessed a significant body of evidence in the round to support its finding that Microsoft would have the ability and incentive to withhold Activision content, and that this would substantially lessen competition by foreclosing PlayStation. In assessing this body of evidence, the PFs emphasised – consistent with jurisprudence on the CMA’s duty to assess evidence1 – that it is “particularly important in this case to assess the Merged Entity’s incentive to foreclose by considering all the available evidence in the round,” rather than to focus on a single model (PFs, para. 7.399).

The PS5 maker also argued that the CMA discounts Microsoft’s incentive to forgo PlayStation players in order to boost the value of its rival subscription library, Game Pass, and said that even subtle differences in the quality of the game on different platforms can have a huge impact, citing tech comparisons like those by Digital Foundry. “It is difficult to conceive of an industry where consumers are more attuned to quality and where quality affects purchasing decisions,” Sony wrote. “Call of Duty gamers are passionate, knowledgeable, and sophisticated.”

Sony has gotten a lot of criticism for opposing this deal over concerns about exclusives considering its own history of paying for them, including a recent deal with Square Enix to make this summer’s Final Fantasy XVI a PS5 console exclusive. But it’s at least been consistent in its logic. It thinks exclusives matter a lot, which is why it pays for them and why it’s so terrified of its rival doing the same.

Microsoft originally planned for the deal to close by the end of June, though it’s also still awaiting approval from the European Union and facing an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission. It’s also unclear how the deal will affect some of 2023’s biggest releases like a reportedly new standalone Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game and Diablo IV.

              

Sony May Be Adding Temperature Feature To PS5 Controllers

Sony has shown us some fascinating alternative controllers for the PlayStation 5, and one possible version is still at the patent stage. A recently published patent document suggests Sony might be currently experimenting with haptic technology that would allow part of your controller to change shape or temperature depending on the gameplay.

The patent, originally spotted by gaming website Exputer, details how the technology would work if it ever came to be. The controller would feature a more pliable “elastic member.” While controllers as they exist today are hard plastic that isn’t malleable, the elastic member could actually change shape. And though that hard plastic body hasn’t changed over the decades, controllers have gotten more advanced, adding details like haptic features that are present in the current DualSense controller that comes with each PS5.

“However, recent years have seen widespread use of technologies that present vibrations and force sensations in order to enrich user experiences in gaming and the like,” the patent document reads. “The present invention has been made in light of the above circumstances, and it is an object thereof to provide a controller capable of enriching haptic experiences.”

The patent further illustrates a sensor that would measure details such as whether the elastic piece is touched, twisted, pressed with a finger, pinched, squashed, rubbed. It could also measure things like acceleration. In response, this elastic part of the controller can change its temperature, shape, and hardness. I am trying not to make a dirty joke, but Sony’s patent description is doing most of the legwork here. The fact that all these features are controlled by the pressure and heat from a player’s hands make it sound even worse.

My juvenile mind aside, the haptic tech is pretty neat. The elastic member could be filled with pockets of gas that expand. When the controller heats up, the gel material of the member could change its firmness. The elastic piece also has the vibration capabilities of any modern controller. While it can be interesting to think about how a controller can convey the intensity of a volcano level or simulate the feeling of climbing a rope, I have some reservations. All these features sound like they could be too physically stimulating for when I’m trying to concentrate on pulling off some sick moves in God of War.

It’s also important to recognize that just because the patent exists does not mean that the controller will come to life, or that Sony even has any plans for it. Companies often take out patents defensively, essentially so that another company can’t do so (at least not without paying up), even if it’s not something it wants to actually pursue. Ahead of the PlayStation 5 release, patent documents revealed a version of the console that never saw the light of a Walmart shelf.

These possibilities sound more like excess bells and whistles than anything that would change how I currently experience PlayStation games. In his premium DualSense Edge review, Kotaku staff writer Kenneth Shepard couldn’t recommend the controller to the average person due to its excruciating $200 price point. If temperature-responsive controllers cost significantly more than a regular DualSense, then I’m not sure if it’s really worth swapping out what you currently have.

Sony Threatens To Not Share PS6 Info With Call of Duty Devs

If the sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft for $69 billion goes through, it could have big consequences for the future of Call of Duty on PlayStation. At least that’s what Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan keeps saying. In a new deposition for the current lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission, the PlayStation executive said the company won’t share PlayStation 6 information with Activision if it eventually becomes part of Xbox.

“We simply could not run the risk of a company that was owned by a direct competitor having access to that information,” Ryan told regulators, as reported by Stephen Totilo at Axios. The CEO also argued that in addition to Sony being unable to share “in-development console features” with Activision, the Call of Duty publisher would have less incentive to develop console-specific features for the PS5 and future devices like the PS6.

Totilo notes that Sony had previously collaborated with Activision in advance of the PS5’s release. A potential example of that collaboration could be Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War which launched the same year as the PS5 and included DualSense haptic feedback features and HRTF 3D audio for on the Sony console. Being locked out of pre-release PS6 dev kits would potentially mean a future Call of Duty in say, the year 2026, would run worse on Sony’s next console.

A redacted section of Ryan’s testimony also suggests that PlayStation previously ran into issues with supplying console info to competitors back when Microsoft purchased Minecraft, though we don’t know what they are and the game has continued to be supported on new PlayStation hardware. “I believe that [Microsoft]’s incentives—their primary incentive will, at post-acquisition, would be to optimize its overall Xbox business, not the business of Activision,” Ryan said in his deposition.

Read More: Sony Sounds More Paranoid Than Ever About Xbox Owning Call Of Duty

Of course, Sony-owned games like Destiny 2 and MLB The Show currently ship on Xbox, and it’s unclear if Microsoft has or will face similar concerns with sharing similar info with Bungie and Sony San Diego Studio when new Xbox hardware is being developed. It’s also in Sony’s interest to convince regulators to spike the Microsoft Activision merger over antitrust concerns, and the company has been saying for months now that a sale would lead to worse performing versions of Call of Duty on PS5 and future hardware, despite claims by Microsoft that it would continue to support competitor’s platforms with the series.

Ryan has declined to appear in person at the FTC’s current set of hearings to get an injunction against the merger, and Sony will only be submitting pre-recorded testimony. Microsoft and Bethesda executives will take the stand in person, beginning on June 22 with Pete Hines, Sarah Bond, and Matt Booty. Microsoft’s deadline to close the deal is July 18.

 

              

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