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The ongoing hearing between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which seeks to temporarily halt the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King to gain more time for its investigation, has been a source of a great many revelations recently.

Day 3 of the hearing saw a recorded statement from PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, who fired shots at Xbox Game Pass.

Day 4’s highlight wasn’t any less spectacular: Confidential documents from Sony containing sensitive financial information were published – most of this data was supposed to be redacted, but the person responsible for making these redactions made a critical mistake: They used a sharpie to blacken out sensitive information. While that made the data ineligible on paper, the documents were scanned for usage in court, which made the censored text somewhat visible again.

That’s kind of a big oopsie, to say it mildly, but gives us some interesting information that would usually not be available (via The Verge).

For example, the documents listed the budgets for two huge PlayStation titles, The Last of Us Part 2 and Horizon Forbidden West:

  • The Last of Us Part 2: ~200 employees, seven years of development, budget of $220 million.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: >300 employees, five years of development, budget of $212 million.

Game developers usually don’t give out information like that, contrasting other entertainment products like movies.

Also included is some information about player behavior. Sony claims that a million PlayStation owners play nothing but Call of Duty on the platform and over six million owners spend more than 70% of their gaming time on PlayStation in Activision’s first-person shooter.

Losing access to the series has been one of Sony’s biggest public fears regarding Microsoft’s proposed takeover, though an email by Jim Ryan, which was also revealed before court, suggested that Sony was confident in retaining Call of Duty on PlayStation for many more years. As you’d expect, all the political and legal maneuvering between the corporations contains a good deal of public theater to get fans riled up and regulators thinking.

There is definitely a real core to that fear, though: According to the 'redacted' documents, Call of Duty players “generated average annual platform spending” of around $13 to $16 billion worldwide between 2019 and 2021 alone for Sony. The exact number is hard to read, but it's a whole lot of money.

In any case, the Call of Duty game being released this year seems to be the last under the current marketing agreement between Sony and Activision, which means that the current preferred treatment of PlayStation players is set to end after this game.

Expect more news coming from the hearing over the next few days.