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Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony ask Trump to skip tariffs on gaming consoles

The companies say tariffs on consoles would undermine "efforts to protect US intellectual property and preserve US high-tech leadership."

Gamers at the massive E3 video game conference in LA earlier this month.
James Martin/CNET

President Donald Trump's plan to increase tariffs on goods produced in China would affect a wide range of consumer goods. One gadget that could see a price increase because of a trade war is the video game consoles, and the three biggest companies behind consoles have come together to ask Trump for a pass.

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony sent a letter dated June 17 to the Office of the United States Trade Representative requesting that video game consoles be removed from the list of products covered by tariffs. The companies say a tariff on consoles would stifle innovation and harm the larger gaming ecosystem -- threatening jobs and injuring consumers, video game developers and retailers. Microsoft makes the Xbox console, Nintendo makes the Switch, and Sony makes the PlayStation.

"While we appreciate the administration's efforts to protect US intellectual property and preserve US high-tech leadership," the three companies said in the letter, "the disproportionate harm caused by these tariffs to US consumers and businesses will undermine -- not advance -- these goals."

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a lobbying group for the video game industry, is mentioned in the letter  and also opposes the planned tariffs.

"The video game industry is a national leader in job creation, trade, innovation, audience engagement, consumer protection and creative expression," an ESA spokesperson said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "Importantly, our industry also boasts a trade surplus for the American economy. Tariffs will erode innovation, decrease job opportunities for American workers and increase prices for consumers."

Video game consoles wouldn't be the only consumer electronics subject to Trump's tariffs. Phones could see a price increase, and the rollout of 5G could suffer.