“Nobody Gains” From Exclusives, Says Sony Developer Relations Boss

In a keynote at IndieCade’s professional conference, SCEA’s VP of publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes said that while exclusive games do drive console sales, it isn’t a great strategy for both console manufacturers and developers.

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The most important part of this statement involved Boyes saying “Right now exclusives are just a way for [console makers] to brag louder,” and continuing that “Nobody gains from exclusivity in perpetuity.”

He then compared the people who make these consoles to car dealers, and independent developers to high-end car mechanics, capable of fine-tuning performance and bringing “real innovation” to the market, though exclusivity didn’t quite fit in here. “Developers now have the option to deliver on a huge number of platforms” he continued, before stating that they “want developers to be successful” and that meant multiplatform publishing was the inevitable option.

I’m not sure where this statement has come from, but it seems very misjudged from someone so high up at Sony; exclusives allow developers to focus on one form of hardware, rather than having to put the extra legwork in and perhaps deliver a product that isn’t fully realised across multiple platforms. As well as that, they’re a massive reason for buying a console: “Oh, The Last of Us looks incredible, but it’s only on PlayStation?” will hardly lead to a person buying an Xbox 360 instead, will it?

Perhaps if he’s just talking about money, then he’s more than likely right, though context would be needed to judge this fully. If, for example, Boyes was discussing how much it costs to make a game vs. how much console manufacturers pay to get an exclusive title on their platform, then yes, his point stands – but saying “nobody gains” is ludicrous, particularly when we’ve seen such stellar, system-selling stuff from developers such as Naughty Dog.

And don’t even get me started on Mario… there’s plenty of room for exclusives – and even a need for exclusives – in the current gaming market if you ask me.

Update: It appears his comment was more based upon independent developers, but even in that case I don’t think his statement is justified. Just look at the PlayStation indies going on to bigger things, such as FuturLab coming from a minis game – Coconut Dodge – to a downloadable PS4 title with Velocity 2X. And then there’s Flower – a game which wouldn’t have worked on competing consoles due to the need for motion controls. There are plenty of successful examples of exclusive indie games.

Source: GamesIndustry

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18 Comments

  1. Don’t see that this makes sense at all really. Even if he is talking about money, surely exclusives are a way to bolster console sales, albeit amongst many other factors.

    But it’s easy to justify buying a PS3 over a 360 merely on a basis of exclusives alone. Not to mention there’s been a lot of work by Sony/microsfot in the past to bring exclusive content in multiplatform games like Need for Speed, and CoD (on the xbox side of things). Plus I’d reckon the handheld platforms require exclusives to survive in popularity.

    Doesn’t it all translate to a more successful sales roster if exclusives are there. Can’t really get what the hell this comment is about.

    • I think with indie developers it is slightly different though. They’re not the kind of titles to turn the tide on the choice of main home consoles, and with small costs involved, I would think that indie studios might benefit from better profit margins from multiple platforms.

      Sure Velocity has come a long way, but there’s nothing to stop it going on to other platforms if they wanted to. Although Sony seem easier to handle than Microsoft at the moment. But I’m not saying there’s no benefit to Futurlab’s exclusivity, or any other indie developer. As long as the developers enjoy what they, and we enjoy playing. Make the whole comment from this Sony guy even more pointless I guess.

  2. he was talking about Indies.

  3. Not kind of thing I’d expect a developer relations person to say. The PS3 exclusives like Uncharted showed that giving a dev the extra time (& money) to get the best out of your console is worth it.

  4. having your game on multiple machines obviously allows for greater sales potential.

    but this has to be offset by being able to concentrate on one piece of hardware, and there can be many benefits to making your game exclusive, such as support from the console company and the weight of their marketing behind you.

    so, he’s not entirely right, but he’s not completely wrong either.
    for some games/studios, exclusivity is absolutely the best way forwards, for some, getting it out on as many formats as possible is key.
    and that applies to big and small studios/games.

    and you wouldn’t count first party stuff, because obviously, that’s gonna be exclusive.

    really though, console makers don’t pursue exclusivity because they think that’s what’s best for the studio/game, they do it so anybody who wants to play that game, they have to do it on that company’s machine.

  5. He is quite clearly referring to 2nd and 3rd party studios being paid off by Microsoft’s $$$$$ to lock into Xbox and not make games on competitors consoles.

    Quite clearly this is VERY different to a Sony studio making a game for their own system and Microsoft studio making a title for their own system (AKA 1st party title).

    Why always confuses me, is how it’s even legal, as there are antitrust and competitive laws in the US and EU about paying off 3rd parties for competitive advantages.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_antitrust_law#Cartels_and_collusion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_competition_law#Collusion_and_cartels

    I’m no lawyer, but I don’t see how it’s legal for Microsoft to pay money to a company to not release games on a Sony console…

    • Because they own the trademark & rights to the game. Same with Journey on ps3. Sony fund the development of the game in exchange for the rights to it. Its all legal.

      • That’s a Sony studio, Sony SantaMonica. We are talking bungs like the huge one Rockstar may (careful with my working here) have received to make GTA Liberty City Stories exclusive to Xbox360 for a lengthy time. There would be no technical reason for it not to launch at the same time on PS3, as the game engine was the same as GTA IV…

      • No they’re not, they had a 3 game deal with Sony.

      • And liberty city stories was exclusive to Sony. So yeah, how much money must Sony have “bunged” for that. Ha ha, I love arguing with you.

      • My mistake, it was the gay one that was only on Xbox.

      • I don’t think Tuffcub owns an xbox. Sorry, i couldn’t resist making that joke. *grabs coat*

  6. I dont understand how TSA doesnt understand this? He is 100% correct in what he is saying, Lets take The Last of Us for example. It sold admirably at launch and still is, but putting it on multiplatforms would have shifted more units indefinitely. The porting process from one console to another is simpler now than most people think, it doesnt take millions to port the actual game itself to similar hardware anymore but mere thousands sometimes as low as 50,000 – 75,000 (Obviously not a game as large as TLoU but you get the idea) With putting the product on a single console it loses the aspect of a possible 75% increase in sales and revenue if it were to be a multiplatform product. Its quite simple acually and everything he is saying is absolutely correct.

    • why would Sony put games that sell consoles on other machines? he is not talking about Sony owned studios he meant Indies anyway Sonys studios & IP is a huge reason I buy playstation consoles.

      • TLOU has sold over 3 million copies that is more than a lot of multiplat games sell these days.

    • He says that “Nobody Gains” which is not true as I know I, and probably many others, would have bought a 360 this gen if every game was available on both consoles. Most of my mates have 360s so the main reason I chose different was for the exclusive games from the studios that made my favourite games from the PS2 era.
      I do think the Last of Us in particular benefitted from being Ps3 exclusive as Naughty Dog could get the most out of the complicated Cel architecture in ps3 which is more powerful than the xbox but its much harder to use.

  7. It will never happen but I’m still hoping that one day we are left with a single console platform. Exclusives are just annoying and create a divide.

    I’m getting an X1 as my next-gen console as it appeals to me the most, but would love to play Killzone and whatever Naughty Dog’s next project is.
    Likewise some of my friends aren’t making the jump to next-gen right away, meaning I’m having to hold onto my 360 to play games with them.

    A single platform where all games are available would make a lot of sense, especially given the X1 and PS4 are basically identical this gen aside from more powerful servers for X1 and a stronger indie focus on PS4.

  8. I agree with third party exclusives as most of the time, it just annoys everyone. Such as the DLC for Skyrim. Both the PC and PS3 fans were annoyed.

    But first party exclusives can be excellent and displays what the console can do. Look at Naughty Dog, they have released nothing but excellent games this generation. Granted, UC3 was a disappointment and had way too much set pieces.

    Anyway, what i’m trying to say is that third party exclusive content tends to piss off almost everyone and can reflect badly on the publisher. Bethesda got a lot of hate mail when they accepted MS’s offer. But there is nothing wrong with first party excluisves as long as they are not crap.

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