By Sam Nussey
TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp’s shares slid as much as 2% in Tokyo trade on Wednesday after Microsoft Corp said it would buy the parent of games publisher Bethesda Softworks, in a deal to bolster its games slate as it eyes cloud gaming expansion.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 is expected by analysts to outsell Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox consoles when the devices launch in November, bolstered by Sony’s stronger games pipeline including exclusives like “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.”
Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of the publisher behind hit franchises like “Doom” and “Fallout” helps close that gap, as it pushes into cloud gaming with the launch of a subscription service last week for Android devices.
The Xbox Game Pass is central to Microsoft’s counterattack, with the rival PlayStation Now service from Sony – which has a dominant hardware install base – seen as lagging in terms of games on offer and by being limited to PlayStation and PC.
It will take time for the deal to feed through to Xbox’s games pipeline, with Bethesda contracted to bring titles “Deathloop” and “Ghostwire: Tokyo” to PlayStation 5.
The concentration of studios in the hands of established players puts clear blue water between a wave of challengers like Amazon.com Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc that are moving into gaming but lack killer titles.
Japan’s markets reopened on Wednesday after national holidays. Sony’s shares have risen by almost half since March lows as the gaming industry benefits from demand brought about by stay-at-home policies during the coronavirus outbreak.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)