Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
05 January 2007
Sony losing exclusives; what about Microsoft?
Every day for the past month someone in my RSS reader is writing about how Sony's losing the war because its PlayStation 3 exclusives from third parties are just time-limited exclusives and will also appear on the Xbox 360. Discussions branch out from there to whether third party exclusives are becoming extinct, a question I'll leave for another post. (Short answer: See how Splinter Cell was handled on Xbox, GameCube, and PlayStation 2.)

What's troubling is that we've heard precious little about how Microsoft's exclusives are getting a ride on Sony's console. As far as I know, no Dead or Alive (fighting or ogling by Tecmo) games have been announced for the PlayStation 3. And Microsoft still has a lock on Bioshock (by Irrational Games) and Lost Planet (by Capcom) and Dead Rising (also by Capcom) and Gears of War (by Epic) and Eternal Sonta (aka Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream by Namco Bandai). At least three of those are by Japanese companies, two of which (Capcom and Namco Bandai) have benefited greatly from Sony's systems in the past. Resident Evil and Ridge Racer, anyone? Maybe a little Devil May Cry or Tekken?

If I see any one of those Xbox 360 exclusives flip, then I'll be more inclined to believe that Sony's going to benefit from this death of exclusives. Until then, count me among the skeptics.

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--Matt Matthews at 10:34
Comment [ 18 ]

Comments on this post:

The only example I can think of is Tecmo's last-gen Xbox exclusive, Ninja Gaiden, getting ported to PS3.

I'm not sure if that helps or hinders your thesis though...

By Anonymous Crusader, at 05 January, 2007 10:50  

Sony getting a port of a game from last generation seems weak. Don't get me wrong: the screenshots look incredible for Ninja Gaiden Sigma (right name?) but it's still a port of an older game, and not nearly like snatching an exclusive like Eternal Sonata or Dead Rising away from Microsoft...

By Blogger jvm, at 05 January, 2007 10:53  

Sigma is correct. It's a project designed to keep a secondary team in Tecmo working that Itagaki has all but washed his hands of.

I'm sure it'll be a good port, whenever it comes out, and it may pave the way for additional Team Ninja ports to PS3 in the future (since they'll have a team that knows how to do the job already).

Snatching isn't the word I would use for exclusivity loss. US publishers and larger Japanese 3rd parties have shown that they will put their projects on any system that has an install base and audience capable of providing sales that will more than offset the cost of training a team to develop on new hardware and actually undertaking that development.

I don't think this is new, it just looks new to some people because they're now seeing Japanese companies doing it. The only reason the Japanese companies are so late to the party is that Sony has been far and away the most dominant console maker for over a decade in their primary territory.

The reason they're doing it now is that Nintendo has once again successfully defended the handheld market from any competitors, the larger companies are coming to the realization that the worldwide market is as much a key to profitability and growth as is the Japanese market, and the smallest companies are seeing that the 360 or DS offer a lower learning curve and lower development costs which helps their profitability.

All reasonable business decisions for the 3rd parties, not petty victories for the console makers.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 11:41  

You're right that "snatched" isn't appropriate. I betray my Sony bias from time to time, and my language here carries my frustration with Sony's missteps when measured against Microsoft's well-executed first year.

The bit about Nintendo defending the handheld market didn't make sense to me; could you explain a bit further?

The rest, as you say, is business decisions and it's clear that Sony with the PS3 has set itself up as the more difficult machine for developers. The question is whether a large enough installed base can be created to make ports to the PS3 worthwhile.

As I've said before: this is what it must have felt like to be a Saturn owner during the reign of the PSOne.

By Blogger jvm, at 05 January, 2007 12:47  

I don't think it is a universal "death of exclusives" anyway.

It is much more likely to be exactly what it looks like, that developers are upset with Sony's handling of the PS3. The pushed back release, the cut number of systems, Europe cut entirely, then another cut to the systems... Sony likely hasn't delivered anything approaching the install base timeline that they promised companies. The PS3 is no longer the sure bet that companies thought it would be.

So companies are looking elsewhere. Nintendo made sure the Wii wasn't an option for PS3 ports, so they are looking at the Xbox360.

And anyway, in several cases it is companies that have either flirted with the Xbox or were rumored to be considering it in the past. Sony's problems have just given them more incentive.

By Anonymous Baines, at 05 January, 2007 13:29  

The handheld thing was mainly a halfhearted attempt to tie the Dragon Quest 9 thing in with the rest of it.

It's the same motivation. Lower development costs, familiarity with the hardware, and large install base = large Japanese company wanting some of that.

They love big install bases and they cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny, that when a console walks by with an itty bitty development threshold and a lots of round zeros after it's install figures...

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 13:30  

I doubt the Saturn owner thing. I was a Saturn owner, and I was much too busy playing AAA titles to give a crap what was on Playstation.

The level of angst on display from PS3 advocates is astonishing to me.

Of course, I was an experienced importer before I ever got a Saturn, so if a game caught my eye, I just got it and didn't worry about whether it would get a shitty translation and a port to another console when it got to the US (I'm looking at you Grandia).

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 13:35  

Let me start by saying I was not a Saturn owner until around the time House of the Dead and Burning Rangers came out, which is to say...late. So I'll defer to your experience and say that I still would not have been comfortable importing at that stage (although Ruffin did get Deep Fear and/or Enemy Zero around that time).

That several notable cases the Saturn ended up with the game but got it (much) later: Resident Evil, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, WipeOut. This isn't to say the same didn't happen the other way around or that the Saturn didn't have great games (I've gushed plenty before about the light gun games in particular, as well as Necronomicon Pinball and Bust-a-Move 2: Arcade Edition), but some significant third-party games lagged when showing up on the Saturn.

(In the case of WipeOut, it can probably be excused since Psygnosis eventually ended up becoming much more cozy with Sony, as I recall.)

If Bioshock, Lost Planet, and Trusty Bell end up on Xbox 360 in 2007 and the PS3 in 2008, then I think the Saturn owner analogy there has some weight.

By Blogger jvm, at 05 January, 2007 13:53  

I never played Resident Evil, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or WipeOut on the Saturn.

I did play RE on the GameCube and was not impressed by the incredibly crapalicious gameplay, tedious story, and awful voice acting.

I played Wipeout on the N64. It was fun, in it's limited way. On Saturn, I had many better things to play than either of those.

I've never been a Castlevania fan (apparently that's something that people got on the NES, which I've never owned), so I can't comment on that installment or the series' quality (I've never even played Dracula X, which some people apparently think is better than Christ Cakes (TM), despite being a big PC Engine person).

Burning Rangers was ok, but definitely was hampered by the technical limitations of the system. The randomized zones gave it some replayability, but it was also REALLY short.

Favs were Panzer Dragoon (Zwei was pretty, but I think PD was more faithfully SEGA, I don't know what that means), NiGHTS, Daytona CCE (even with that damn lane change that you had to know was coming because you sure couldn't see it in multiplayer mode), Shining Force III (another technically limited game, but that was the story of the gen, IMHO), Grandia, Radiant Silvergun, Layer Section I and II, that first round of arcade re-releases (Space Harrier particularly, big fan of that since the SMS days), Guardian Heroes, Saturn Bomberman, Puyo Puyo Sun, Bust-A-Move 2 (better than 3 for some reason), Steep Slope Sliders (if you'll believe it), SEGA Worldwide Soccer '97 and '98 got a lot of playtime, The D&D Collection from Capcom, Marvel vs Street Fighter, X-Men vs Street Fighter ... you may not have noticed, but the Saturn was a juggernaut of a console. That's why I still have it plugged in next to my 360.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 15:55  

Cozy doesn't quite cover Psygnosis, since they've been wholly owned by Sony since 1993.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 15:57  

Re: Psygnosis. Wow, you're right, and that's bizarre. So a subsidiary of Sony released games for the PlayStation and the PlayStation's competitors? Sorry, but that just strikes me as bizarre.

By Blogger jvm, at 05 January, 2007 16:05  

Well, they released at least Wipeout64. By my count there were two post buyout SNES games and two N64 games.

Microsoft Game Studios does it too (at least, they release portable games on Nintendo hardware). Rare's got a couple DS projects in the works, and Ensemble's Age series showed up there (even if it was in a weird way through Digital Eclipse/Backbone/The Collective and Majesco).

Shell games between the console makers and portable manufacturers isn't anything terribly new (Sonic on NGPC)

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 16:29  

Don't Destruction Derby and WipeOut on the Saturn count in addition the the same on the N64? And we're talking directly competing consoles here, not handhelds.

By Blogger jvm, at 05 January, 2007 16:41  

I guess. Never played either of those, and really didn't know they existed.

But you can go back a ways and see console to console examples. PC Engine had ports of Altered Beast, Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Golden Axe, Afterburner II, Bonanza Brothers, Gain Ground, Shinobi, Columns, Outrun, Power Drift, Thunderblade...there may have even been others.

A lot of those were through Interchannel, but there were some instances of SEGA self-publishing on PCE. Some of those were before and some were after the emergence of Mega Drive, and you'd think that SEGA would be protective of their properties even with just the SMS.

I think they had games go over to NES as well.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 05 January, 2007 19:11  

I think it's worth remembering that Capcom pulled a similar exclusivity stunt with their 'Big 5' when the Gamecube was announced. All the high-profile titles from that eventually saw their way over to the PS2.

Not that i'm saying history repeats, just that Capcom have done it before.

What's gets me is news like Splinter Cell 5. Convincing a publisher like Ubisoft, who would release a version of their game that could be played on a yoghurt pot if they caught a whiff of profit from it, to send out press releases saying it's a 360 exclusive is an impressive feat. Although I still protest that keeping the title 360 exclusive will be harder than convincing Sony that Europe is an actual place.

By Blogger Martin, at 05 January, 2007 21:36  

Capcom's Gamecube "Big 5" was somewhat ugly.

First they were reported as exclusive. Then Capcom corrected games magazines by saying only RE4 was exclusive, and that the rest might or might not appear elsewhere.

Mikami said he'd quit if RE4 appeared on the PS2. Capcom announced RE4 for the PS2 right before the GC version was released (causing some to reconsider buying a Cube to play RE4, and a few to reconsider waiting because they expected the PS2 version to have extras.) Mikami apparently did quit, only to be rehired under new contract.

Killer 7 was often delayed, but supposedly some of that was so that work on a PS2 version could catch up with the GC version, so that they could have a simultaneous release.

Dead Phoenix was secretly cancelled, despite an earlier "clarification" about "exclusive" being that all five of the Big 5 were guaranteed release on the Gamecube.

The PS2 version of Viewtiful Joe got extras. (And the PSP version of Red Hot Rumble got extras.)

By Anonymous Baines, at 06 January, 2007 18:02  

Sony did not buy Psygnosis until 1996. Sony did distrubute some console stuff in Japan for them, which led to a close relationship. The reason Sony bought them up was the amazing quality of their PS1 titles. At launch, NOTHING touched Wipeout. One of the conditions of the sale, IIRC, was that Psygnosis could release ports, but not for 1 year after the PS1 release. Wipeout 64 was a bastard son, not actually programmed by Psygnosis, the just licensed the name to Midway.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 January, 2007 18:19  


Psygnosis's own press releases indicate that they were bought by Sony in 1993.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 08 January, 2007 19:26  

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