Editor’s note: This article is part of Day 2 (June 23, 2023) of the FTC vs. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard trial.
During the ongoing Microsoft FTC trial, Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, pointed fingers at Sony for the absence of a native PlayStation 5 version of Minecraft. Spencer claimed that Sony hesitated to provide Microsoft with PlayStation 5 development kits before the console’s launch in 2020. This unforeseen revelation sheds light on the behind-the-scenes dynamics within the gaming industry.
During the trial, Phil Spencer openly stated, “Sony was reluctant to send us development kits for the PlayStation 5 at the same time they were sending them to other developers, which put us at a disadvantage relative to other developers.” This revelation highlights the significance of timely access to development kits, enabling game creators to optimize their titles for specific platforms effectively. Spencer further expressed his belief that Sony could have easily provided Microsoft with the development kits, just as they did with other publishers.
While a native version of Minecraft is yet to arrive on the PlayStation 5, it is important to note that PS5 players can still enjoy the game through the PlayStation 4 version. Minecraft’s availability on the previous generation of consoles ensures that PlayStation players remain connected to the Minecraft ecosystem during this generation. Consequently, Sony’s reluctance to provide development kits does not entirely exclude PlayStation players from enjoying the beloved sandbox experience.
Industry experts have observed that Minecraft does not have an optimized version specifically tailored for the Xbox Series X|S consoles. This absence of a distinct version places both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S platforms on relatively equal footing in terms of Minecraft performance. While some may argue that this levels the playing field, it raises questions about Microsoft’s prioritization of Minecraft enhancements and their focus on the broader Minecraft ecosystem.
In response to the Federal Trade Commission’s argument that Microsoft had ample time to develop a native PlayStation 5 version of Minecraft since the console’s launch, Phil Spencer defended Xbox’s approach. He emphasized that Xbox explored avenues to “maximize the success of Minecraft.” While the exact details of these endeavors remain undisclosed, it highlights Microsoft’s efforts to ensure the game thrives across various platforms and reaches the widest possible audience.
During the Microsoft FTC trial, the discussion expanded beyond Minecraft‘s absence on PlayStation 5. Insights into the development of Minecraft Dungeons were also revealed. Interestingly, it was disclosed that Minecraft Dungeons was initially considered as a potential PC-only title. However, the game ultimately shipped on all platforms, allowing players across different consoles to experience the engaging dungeon-crawling adventure.
The ongoing Microsoft FTC trial has unveiled a wealth of information about the inner workings of the video game industry, shedding light on aspects rarely accessible to the public. From the near exclusion of Starfield from the Xbox ecosystem prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda to Sony’s hesitancy in providing development kits, this trial has provided a unique opportunity for gamers and industry enthusiasts to gain insight into the dynamics shaping the gaming landscape.