Rob Dyer, Sony Computer Entertainment America's SVP of Publisher Relations, attacked Microsoft's behavior toward publishers and its effects on gamers while boasting Sony's reputation with publishers.
A couple of weeks ago, Eurogamer was able to get its hands on Microsoft's Content Submission and Release Policy, which revealed the tech company's policies regarding what it'll publish on Xbox Live Arcade and retail discs. According to the policy, if content arrives on a Sony platform first, or if there is more content from that publisher on a Sony platform, Microsoft reserves the right to not publish it.
"We're a little biased, so obviously we're going to look to protect our own space as best we can and get exclusivity," said Chris Lewis, head of Xbox Europe. "Whilst I can't be specific about the terms and conditions, you can be very confident we seek to maximize our own advantage to ensure the playing field is even, and certainly plays to our advantage wherever possible.
According to the policy, "titles for Xbox 360 must ship at least simultaneously with other video game platforms, and 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 reserves the right to not allow the content to be released on Xbox 360."
Now, Sony is speaking out about Microsoft's strict policies for publishers. Rob Dyer, Sony Computer Entertainment America's SVP of Publisher Relations, attacked Microsoft's behavior toward publishers and its effects on gamers.
"I think what [Xbox Europe boss] Chris Lewis was referring to was something that we’ve known about for quite some time, that we’ve been dealing with, and trying to deal with - in the spirit of competition, more than anything, we look for ways to give our consumer reason to have the PS3," said Dyer. "I think what Chris and the other representatives at Microsoft are doing 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 handle that.
"And that’s a huge problem with them," Dyer continued. "It first started on the smaller pubs, and we can talk about what’s happened on XBL and the policy they have there that requires publishers to have a whole litany of things in order to get onto their network or they have to go through and be published by Xbox, by Microsoft, which essentially lets them dictate how long they’ll be exclusive and whether or not they own the IP, etc, etc. They - for instance, if you want to be able to do something on XBL, you need to have an office, there’s all kinds of restrictions. 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 recognizing that we aren’t demanding a pound of flesh in order for them to get a game published on our network."
Many publishers, such as Valve, have noted that PlayStation 3 gamers are getting the best of the best of what publishers have to offer while Xbox 360 gamers are stuck because Microsoft won't "open up" Xbox Live. For instance, Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, said that there are tons of updates and free content that Valve delivers to PS3 customers (such as "Portal 2" DLC coming out in September) that Xbox 360 customers cannot enjoy due to Microsoft's restrictions.
"Right now, there's a huge amount of updates and free content we've been able to deliver to people who have The Orange Box that we haven't been able to deliver to the Xbox because of the restrictions that have been placed on us on Xbox Live," said Newell. "We'd love to see those relaxed. Other developers on the PS3 are starting to benefit from Sony's more open approach. Hopefully that will help Microsoft see that's a good strategy for making customers happy, that the barbarians won't tear down the walls of Xbox and turn it into some chaotic wasteland."
Dyer boasted about Sony's relationship with Valve, saying that he has helped solidify that connection, and that it gives the gamer more reason to play on a PlayStation console.
"I’ve read Gabe's comments as well and this is a relationship that I’ve helped foster and helped to get the cross platform connection going," said Dyer. "I’m very excited about it. I think it gives the gamer - particularly the core gamer - all the more reasons to want to play our console. And that’s the whole thing. We want people to be plugged into PS3 – if they’re not playing the game, then we want them to be on the network or to be using it to download video or to be browsing or doing whatever. And it just gives them another reason to do it. ... And what Gabe has said, yeah. I can’t wait to see what’s happening on 'Counterstrike.' We’re working with them on that. I think we’re going to have some really cool things. We’re pumped up. We’re also very pumped up in working with guys like CCP as a matter of fact to try and be more inclusive rather than being very restrictive."
Dyer went on to say that smaller publishers as well as A and B level publishers are being bossed around by Microsoft at an equal level with these restrictions, giving Sony a competitive edge. Dyer said publishers are "getting the living crap kicked out of them by Microsoft" because they're creating something better on Sony's platform than it might be perceived on Microsoft's.
"From a creativity standpoint and what we are doing to try to make it better for the consumer, our view is Microsoft’s doing everything they can to eliminate that because they have an inferior technology," said Dyer.
Dyer concluded that he wants publishers to stand up to Microsoft and eventually put them in a position where they feel they need to change. But in the meantime, Sony seems happy to rub its lack of policy restrictions as well as publisher relationships in Microsoft's face.
"I just wanted to make it clear from Chris Lewis’ comment last week and the fact that he’s saying, 'Well, this is great for consumers,' and that they’re going to protect their consumers," said Dyer. "I think that that is an admirable stance to take. That being said, while they might be protecting their consumers, what are they protecting them from? And what it looks like they’re protecting them from is the ability to see great content show up on a superior technology. And that, to me, is 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."