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A War Of Excluisivity

So, E3 has come and gone and the majority declared Sony winner. The Japanese company made fun of Microsoft’s DRM restrictions and stuck one final nail in the coffin by offering a machine that is significantly cheaper. Despite these two (albeit important) points, if one had to forget the whole DRM debacle and overlook the price, it would be hard to argue that Microsoft didn’t blow Sony out of the water where it really counts – the amount of exclusives they managed to garner in their initial line up. The tally went 15 – 6 in favor of MS and some of those exclusives are huge names (Halo 5, Forza 5 and Titanfall come to mind).  However my belief is that the next gen war will be less reliant on exclusives.

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Titanfall is a feather in Microsoft’s cap – but it is exclusive or a timed exclusive?

I am making this assumption based on two factors

  • The initial cost of developing for the systems is lower with next gen. Both consoles have an architecture which is very similar to what is found on the PC and developers are saying that it is much easier to port games from one system to the other. This is very different to what we have with current gen where the developer (especially the ones with limited resources) had to choose which platform to develop for because they could not afford to do both.
  • Games will generally cost more to develop because of the quality of the assets needed to make a triple A title with next gen fidelity (although this cost increase will not be as steep as it was between last gen and current gen). This will cause publishers to want to bring the game to the widest audience possible.

 

These two factors in tandem will convince publishers/developers to try and go multi platform whenever possible and therefore there will be less exclusive titles overall when compared to current generation.

Of course we will still have exclusives – both MS and Sony will publish games made by independent developers while also having their own in house developers working in games for their respective platforms. Also some developers will gravitate towards one or the others purely based on inherent differences in the platform (a game necessitating Kinect for instance can only be made for the XboxOne).

Now for a quick rundown on the exclusive titles announced and the likelihood that they will appear on both consoles:

The: Order 1886, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, Infamous: Second Sun and Drive Club are all being published by Sony so they will never see the light of day on XboxOne.

Conversely – Forza 5, Spark, Ryse, Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, that Black Tusk game, Halo 5, Crimson Dragon, Kinect Sports Rivals, D4 and Killer Instinct are all published by Microsoft.

Fantasia Music Evolved relies heavily on the Kinect sensor so in all probability it will remain exclusive to MS. Plant Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall are not published by MS however and might indeed appear on PS4 at a later date (ie timed exclusives for XboxOne). My hunch is that they will  and EA has not ruled out  the possibility of releasing Titanfall on PS4 eventually.

The other wildcard is indie support. Sony did very well this gen while Microsoft started off right but fumbled badly towards the end. It is the general consensus among the indie crowd that Microsoft is not as accommodating as Sony when it comes to allowing indies to do their own thing. Sony had a great showing of indie titles at E3 while MS paraded Minecraft. For MS this was more a show of force than goodwill towards the indie community.

There is no doubt that Microsoft is coming out tops with regards to exclusives. However the real question we should pose is this – will they sustain this kind of first hand support in the long haul or is this just a ruse – an extra push – to help early adopters overlook their drm strategy when choosing which console to buy? Personally I they won’t. Microsoft said they will be very aggressive with the next gen. Their plan was to get a foothold with the Xbox, level the playing field with the 360 and dominate with the One. However I doubt they can keep playing so aggressively (and expensively) in the long run. Let us not forget that in this current gen Sony started off as a distinct looser but managed to catch up (and in some aspects surpass) the competition. We just have to wait and see – whatever happens though its a great time to be a gamer.

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