Is The Age Of Exclusives Over?

Not first party exclusives like Mario, Halo and God of War. Those will live on as long as there are console platform holders. Rather, is the age of big third-party exclusives finished?

The last big third-party exclusive was Metal Gear Solid 4, and that was in 2008. Before the game's release, a great deal of the interest surrounding the title was its platform exclusivity. More and more companies are releasing their titles on all platforms. It makes sense.

In Japan, Square Enix recently revealed that Final Fantasy XIII — which had previously been an PS3 exclusive in Japan — will be coming to the Xbox 360. The news caused a violent reaction on Twitter with mobs of internet users ganging up on Square Enix president Yoichi Wada and calling him a "liar" and "greedy".

Kotaku hears that Wada believes that the enjoyment Square Enix games give should not be limited by platform. Moreover, it is bad games that hurt the brand, not multiplatform games. It seems that Wada feels that the importance of platforms has diminished.

Certainly, the importance of platforms has diminished. Compare the development and publishing environment of 2010 to 1995, and it is very different. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that exclusives are finished.

Microsoft Game Studios exec Phil Spencer sees several different scenarios. "There are scenarios of proven hits in the market where the economics of the situation make it prohibitive for someone to choose one platform over another for the duration of the franchise," he tells Kotaku. "There are situations where exclusively working with one platform helps the creative process." He mentions Gears of War, an Xbox 360 exclusive developed by Epic Games, as an example.

"I think it did help Epic to build a game that could focus on the Xbox 360 and Live — they didn't have to think about anything else," says Spencer. "We backed it in a big way, and it's obviously made money for both of us." It ends up being a win-win situation for the publisher and the developer.

Sony, which is one of Microsoft's competitors, thinks exclusives can refer to elements of a game. The company does develop its own big, in-house exclusives like the upcoming Gran Turismo 5 and The Last Guardian. "With regards to securing platform exclusives from third parties," Sony Computer Entertainment's Shuhei Yoshida tells Kotaku, "it is becoming more and more difficult in regards to financial needs of third parties in order to justify not releasing the game on other platforms." Yoshida pointed out that the cost of making smaller titles is less, so there is a greater chance for them to become exclusives.

"Now you are seeing more and more exclusive downloadable content as well," Yoshida added. "It is becoming more and more difficult to get the whole title exclusive — even, you know, for Microsoft."

"There are many different angles to secure exclusives," Yoshida pointed out. For example, Yoshida said, Ubisoft's R.U.S.E. and Dead Space: Extinction support PlayStation Move motion controls, but do not support Microsoft's Kinect motion controls. "That's a kind of exclusive feature for the PlayStation 3 version."

According to Yoshida, "It comes down to what makes the most sense to the game's publisher. They'll look at different options and then make a smart choice."