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Sony attacks Xbox 360 content policy

Microsoft is "protecting inferior technology".

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Sony has accused Microsoft of "protecting inferior technology", following its admission last week that it reserves the right to deny games an Xbox Live Arcade release if they launch on PSN first.

Speaking in an interview with IndustryGamers, Sony's senior VP of publisher relations Rob Dyer argued that Microsoft's content submission and release policy stands in the way of innovation by denying multi-platform developers the right to exploit the PlayStation 3's high-end features.

"I think what [Xbox Europe boss] Chris [Lewis] and the other representatives at Microsoft are doing is protecting an inferior technology," he explained.

"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 9GB, or you want to do anything of that nature, you'd better sure as heck remember that Microsoft can't handle that."

Microsoft's third party guidelines dictate that all games released on the Xbox 360 must launch "at least simultaneously" with other systems and must have "at least" the same features and content. It reserves the right to block release if those guidelines aren't met.

"That's a huge problem with them," continued Dyer.

"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.

"We don't do that. We don't have any kind of policy like 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."

According to Dyer, it's a problem that extends to AAA developers as well as indies.

"It's now progressed to not just be these smaller indie pubs that are obviously very easy to kick around. It's moved up the food chain. It's gone to B and A level publishers," he said.

"So potentially any time we've gone out and negotiated exclusive content of things that we've announced at things like DPS or E3, publishers are getting the living crap kicked out of them by Microsoft because they are doing something for the consumer that is better on our platform than it might be perceived on theirs.

"So 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."

While Dyer appreciates why Microsoft holds to its policy, he suggested that ultimately it's the consumer that is losing out, as they're being denied potentially innovative content.

"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. 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.

"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."

Elsewhere in the interview he singled out Sony's partnerships with Valve and Dust 514 developer CCP as examples of where it is attempting to open things up.

"I can't wait to see what's happening on Counter-Strike. 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's might not be a lone voice on this issue. His comments closely echo those of one anonymous third party publisher quoted in Eurogamer's original report.

"Microsoft is suggesting that anything but parity will result in them not carrying a title. They may think this is competitive, but it's not. They are killing any creative exposure of titles to make up for their own platform's shortcomings."

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