For a company with a ludicrous NZ$100 billion to splash on Activision Blizzard, Microsoft’s Xbox division sure seems to have self-esteem issues when comparing itself to Sony’s flashy PlayStation 5.

In sentences you definitely won’t find in any Xbox marketing literature, Microsoft told the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) — a body that, uncoincidentally, is investigating the planned Activision acquisition — that Xbox just isn’t as good as PlayStation. It’s the kind of content that fanboys and girls live for.

“Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are better quality,” the company sulkily wrote in its defence. 

“There were over 280 exclusive first- and third-party titles on PlayStation in 2021, nearly five times as many as on Xbox,” it continued highlighting the higher Metacritic scores for Sony games (“The average Metacritic score for Sony’s top 20 exclusive games in 2021 was 87/100, against 80/100 for Xbox.”)

The ultimate aim, of course, is to get the CMA to side with poor old Microsoft, and conclude that rather than the acquisition turning the company into an anti-competitive behemoth, it’s merely levelling the playing field against the big, bad Sony wolf. 

The point is made more clearly later in the document, with an oblique reference to Call of Duty’s potential Xbox exclusivity. “It is implausible that Sony, the leading console with a more than 2-to-1 lead, would be foreclosed as a result of not having access to a single franchise,” Microsoft argued. 

This whole argument is likely a dress rehearsal for an almighty kerfuffle in the United States, where Politico reports that the Federal Trade Commission is “likely” to file an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft for the acquisition. 

Whether or not that ultimately allows it to buy Activision remains to be seen, but we can definitely look forward to more unedifying self pity in the months ahead.