Buying up 3rd party exclusivity is a band aid on a severed artery
Before I begin let me apologise for the slightly grotesque imagery in the title, I recently finished God of War: Ascension and now I’m having trouble conjuring up tasteful metaphors. Ok, we’ve been hearing a lot of rumors suggesting Microsoft may be as much as “six months behind” as far as first party production of Xbox 3 content is concerned. Apparently their solution is “aggressively trying to sign exclusive games for Durango” (source http://n4g.com/news/1244216... ). I can’t be the only one that sees the problem with this practice, apart from coming across as a little spiteful (paying for content to NOT be on other platforms)?
It’s just not sustainable in the long term. There’s always been very little incentive for 3rd party developers to make exclusive games and, with a new console generation looming, now there’s even less. This will not only make the acquisition of permanent exclusivity nearly impossible, it will also make it VERY expensive. We have seen such costs in the current generation with Microsoft paying an eye-gouging amount of money to get GTA 4 on their console and that was only with timed-exclusive content. To go around buying up content from the few studios willing to sell their soul is an effective method in the short term. However it’s all money that should be going toward investing in first party studios, ensuring Xbox has enough exclusive content, not just now but for the foreseeable future too. Nobody wants a console that in few years time could see a dire lack of support from first parties, even if the multiplatform titles are there, to some it’s just not enough.
There’s a lot more reasons that 3rd party devs should stay platform agnostic in the coming generation, chief of which would be the low initial install base. Even after taking a ‘donation’ from a console manufacturer games will struggle to sell in the first years of a console’s life on only one platform, meaning that devs might not turn a profit and could even risk closure. Also when starting a new IP you want it to establish itself with as many gamers as possible and making the game exclusive basically cuts out a large chunk of your target audience. This must have been in the mind of Bungie when deciding to put Destiny out across all platforms.
To put it briefly, an investment in first party studios is better than a one-off payment to secure a 3rd party exclusive or timed-exclusive. Parading your cash around is a temporary fix for a problem that will eventually bleed through onto the face of your unsuspecting fans.