More US Congress members are accusing Sony of hurting Xbox in Japan

Xbox Series S controller
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The US government is under increasing pressure to examine the competition between PlayStation and Xbox in Japan.

That comes from Axios, which reports that Congress members from both sides are telling the Biden administration that Sony's business practices in Japan are blocking US companies from competing in the gaming space, which could fall foul of trade deals between the two. 

"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 US-Japan Digital Trade Agreement," one letter from four Republicans reads. 

The letter mentions that Sony's PlayStation has "98% of the 'high-end console market in Japan'" and that the console maker signs deals designed to keep Japanese games from Xbox, which "may violate Japan's antitrust laws". 

"The Japanese government's effective policy of non-prosecution when it comes to Sony appears to be a serious barrier to US exports, with real impacts for Microsoft and the many US game developers and publishers that sell globally but see their earnings in Japan depressed by these practices," the letter continues.

Now, that's not the first time we've seen the phrase "high-end console market" thrown around. Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell recently raised something similar during a hearing, referring to that same statistic to come away with a similar conclusion. 

The short of it is that America's Federal Trade Commission coined the market definition last year, which removes the Nintendo Switch from conversations around Sony and Microsoft's consoles. It's inspired a fair bit of debate as Nintendo is a major player in Japan, and removing the company from the conversation doesn't paint what many believe to be a complete picture.

The news also comes at a time when Japan's Federal Trade Commission has approved Microsoft's deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, one which Sony has plenty of qualms over. Indeed, with a UK watchdog changing its tune over the deal recently, it now looks more likely than ever to pass. 

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft scrapes more favourable trading conditions in Japan alongside the deal, though the noise US side is only getting louder.

Recently, Sony pointed to Starfield exclusivity as why Microsoft can't be trusted with Call of Duty.

Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.