The End of 'Great' Game Exclusives?

Dennis Faas's picture

Are 'great' game exclusives dead? According to a recent report from Reuters, that may very well be the case -- even as the game industry ramps up for what might be its most successful Christmas, ever.

The article from Reuters focuses squarely on the impending release of long-time Sony fan favorite "Metal Gear Solid 4", one of the most anticipated titles for Sony's PlayStation 3.

So, what does this have to do with the end of 'great' game exclusives?

In a sense, Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) is the last of one very unique type of game: the third-party exclusive. These are titles that are developed for one specific console; another fine example is the Halo franchise from Bungie for the Xbox/Xbox 360 (though it usually makes its way to PC eventually).

In the past, the lifespan and overall success of consoles were defined by these third-party deals. The PlayStation took off because it could secure the Metal Gear franchise, with the PlayStation 2 also locking up Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series.

These gaming pacts between software developers and hardware producers have squashed efforts, too, such as Nintendo's N64 and Sega's Dreamcast, which were short on exclusives.

So, why are these deals no longer being made?

As the demand for games increases, so does the bar. Game makers are now required to employ major motion picture-like budgets in order to reach the level of quality demanded by gamers. That means developers must open their product up to as many players as possible, and not just the audience of one console in particular. It's part of the reason former exclusives like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed have made their way from solely Sony to Microsoft, as well. (Source:

But, could Metal Gear Solid 4 turn the tide?

According to the obnoxiously lovable Adam Sessler, host of G4 Tech TV's "X-Play", the answer ain't pretty for Sony. "No, 'Metal Gear Solid 4' isn't the killer app," said Sessler. "People who already own a PS3 will likely get it. But it doesn't have that kind of broad-based appeal." (Source:

The real question is: does this necessarily mean the end of great games? Expanding the user base will make all gamers happy, sure...for now. But, in a few years when the consoles no longer need to compete with one another based on their available software, will this lead to a lowering of that bar? Could the quality of games actually decrease with time?

Maybe Reuters is on to something.

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