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Console Exclusives Are Dead: The Xbox One's Games

Microsoft's list of games coming to Xbox One sets the tone for a generation.

News by Mike Williams, .

Microsoft has released a list of the announced - not launch - games for its upcoming Xbox One console. The list totals 50 titles from Microsoft Studios and third-party publishers, including Titanfall, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Sunset Overdrive, and Final Fantasy XV. It's a solid list and Microsoft has helpfully marked exclusive titles, games with exclusive content, and multi-platform games in the list. When you separate the games along these lines something becomes apparent.

Exclusive

  • Below (Capy Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Crimson Dragon (Grounding/Land Ho!, Microsoft Studios)
  • D4 (Access Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Dead Rising 3 (Capcom Vancouver, Microsoft Studios)
  • Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix, Disney Interactive)
  • Forza Motorsport 5 (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios)
  • Halo Xbox One (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios)
  • Killer Instinct (Double Helix, Microsoft Studios)
  • Kinect Sports Rivals (Rare, Microsoft Studios)
  • LocoCycle (Twisted Pixel, Microsoft Studios)
  • Minecraft: Xbox One Edition (Mojang Studios, Microsoft Studios)
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (PopCap Games, Electronic Arts)
  • Powerstar Golf (Zoe Mode, Microsoft Studios)
  • Project Spark (Microsoft Studios)
  • Quantum Break (Remedy, Microsoft Studios)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek, Microsoft Studios)
  • Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts)
  • Zoo Tycoon (Frontier Developments Ltd., Microsoft Studios)
Killer Instinct brings back the Nintendo fighter as an Xbox One exclusive.

Exclusive Content or Timed Exclusive

  • Battlefield 4 (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward, Activision)
  • FIFA 14 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)

Multiplatform

  • Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Ubisoft, Ubisoft)
  • Destiny (Bungie, Activision)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare, Electronic Arts)
  • Dying Light (Techland, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • EA Sports UFC (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix, Square Enix)
  • Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft)
  • Kingdom Hearts III (Square Enix 1st Production Department, Square Enix)
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (TT Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Mad Max (Avalanche Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Madden NFL 25 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions, Konami)
  • Mirror's Edge 2 (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • NBA 2K14 (Visual Concepts, 2K Sports)
  • NBA LIVE 14 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Need for Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games, Electronic Arts)
  • Skylanders: Swap Force (Vicarious Visions, Activision)
  • Star Wars Battlefront (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • The Crew (Ivory Towers, Ubisoft)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (ZeniMax Online Studios, Bethesda Softworks)
  • The Evil Within (Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Softworks)
  • The LEGO Movie Videogame (TT Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt RED, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – North America)
  • Thief (Eidos Montreal, Square Enix)
  • Tom Clancy's The Division (Massive Entertainment, Ubisoft)
  • Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames, Bethesda Softworks)
  • Zumba Fitness: World Party (Zoë Mode, Majesco)

On Microsoft's exclusive list, only three titles aren't being published by Microsoft Games Studios. Harmonix's Disney Fantasia is built completely around motion control, which favors the Xbox One; the PlayStation 4 has the PlayStation Eye, but the peripheral isn't packed in with every single console. Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall is an Xbox One exclusive, but with a qualification: the game is also coming to Xbox 360 and PC. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is the oddest exclusive, but again is coming to Xbox 360 and PC.

Titanfall's only coming to Microsoft's platforms because Respawn's team isn't big enough for multiplatform.

So that's it for the console exclusives, isn't it? The previous console generation slowly whittled away the idea of a console exclusive because games just became too expensive to make on a single platform. Picking either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 at this point is just asking for your potential audience to be halved, and not many large developers or publishers can stomach that idea. Third-party console exclusives tend to be because of compensation or help from the platform holder - see all those Microsoft Studios games or Bayonetta 2 for Wii U - or simple pragmatism. That latter idea is evidenced in the exclusive status of Titanfall: Respawn has said that they don't have a big enough team to focus on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at the same time.

"We're a very small team, so we had to pick a platform if we were going to be on consoles and Xbox made the most sense," Titanfall designer Fairfax McCandlish told Edge today.

The previous generation of consoles started out with more exclusives, but I feel the turning point was when Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII dropped its PlayStation 3 exclusive status for an Xbox 360 version. The news was big at E3 2008 and was made even more surprising because the Xbox 360 never took off in Square Enix' home region. The change in Final Fantasy XIII was when Square Enix acknowledged that Western audiences and their console of choice (at the time, as Sony caught up) were important. During its North American launch, FFXIII still sold "nearly double" on the PlayStation 3 versus the Xbox 360, but that was still nearly half a million consumers who picked the game up on Microsoft's platform. Can Square Enix, or any publisher, really afford to ignore those consumers? If Microsoft's Xbox One list is any indication, the answer is a resounding "no".

I find I don't really like the idea of the console exclusive. Long ago, it was the flag you flew proudly when heading out into the console war. PlayStation 3 owner? Sorry you can't play Halo 3, noob. Xbox 360 owner? I'll be over here enjoying Uncharted 2. Exclusives helped differentiate the consoles. These days, I just purchase every console and even beyond that, I just want more people to experience more great games. The differences between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are no longer as pronounced as their current generation counterparts, so why not let everyone in on the fun? (Sorry, Wii U owners. I feel your pain.)

So where do you believe the console exclusive turning point happened? And do you miss the heydays of rampant console exclusives?

Update: Capybara announced in early August that Below would be coming to other platforms at a later date. Another loss in the exclusives column!

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Comments 14

  • Avatar for docexe #1 docexe 3 years ago
    Well, I stopped caring about the console wars years ago, and I pretty much started buying two consoles back in the N64/PSOne era.

    That being said, I see exclusives valuable in the sense that they foster competition between the platform holders (which also fosters creativity, always good for the industry) and that they give personality to a console. I know I might be delusional or too sentimental here, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea of treating them as just “VCR’s for games”, so to speak.
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  • Avatar for Yossy #2 Yossy 3 years ago
    The concept of "console exclusives" needs to be killed immediately. Games like Titanfall are absolutely not exclusive, period. You don't need a paragraph explaining this at the end of the piece; you need to list them in the correct place to begin with.
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  • Avatar for AxiomVerge #3 AxiomVerge 3 years ago
    I feel the death knell was when consoles started becoming so similar to each other in capability. Porting between SNES and Genesis would mean basically remaking the whole game; porting between PS3 and 360 is more like a bunch of #defines and special cases in your code.
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  • Avatar for weevilo #4 weevilo 3 years ago
    @AxiomVerge You probably meant XB1 and PS4? There's a huge difference between coding a game for the 360 and the PS3. Now that they're all running on an x86 architecture with fairly similar integrated graphics chips, that's more the case. It sounds like it'll be much easier to abstract the hardware and operating system differences out of a common code base, where before the code had to be littered with low-level optimization code for each particular console.

    I've said it before here, I'm very confused as to why we as gamers accept and even support console exclusives as a good thing. I'm not leaning towards one of the new consoles yet over PC, but I hope they get all the games we get and vice versa. I'd rather Sony and MS differentiate their products through their service platforms than through what games can or can't be played on them. I don't think we saw much competition in that area until the last year or so when there were very few if any console exclusives, so hopefully that will continue to be the case and maybe Steam and other PC distributors will play a part in that competition.Edited August 2013 by weevilo
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  • Avatar for dr134 #5 dr134 3 years ago
    I think a more appropriate headline would be:

    3rd party console exclusives are (mostly) dead.

    Microsoft and Sony will continue to have their studios crank out exclusives, but 3rd party developers would be foolish to make exclusives (unless they are being paid to).

    I am a fan of exclusives, mostly first party, because the competition to create system selling games often produces some of the very best games in each generation, e.g. Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Halo, Uncharted, God of War, all of the PS2 Final Fantasy games, Gears of War, Forza, Gran Turismo, Metroid, Smash Brothers, and others.

    Competition fuels innovation and increases quality. This is why we need exclusives (and multiple console manufacturers).
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  • Avatar for Slackr #6 Slackr 3 years ago
    Meh, too much money spent on these games to justify exclusives. Return on investment gets harder and harder with a limited audience. Do we want to pay a lot more for games? Exactly.
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  • Avatar for PorcoBrosso #7 PorcoBrosso 3 years ago
    It might seem like exclusives are dead if you're looking at a Microsoft console, but look at Sony and Nitnendo and you'll see companies that actually care about making video games for their video games console. Hopefully MS will start putting money into developing new, non-Kinect related IP like they've done before, but their strategy for the past few years has been to rely on sequels to proven products and to pay for co-marketing and timed exclusives instead of putting money into developing video games.
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  • Avatar for EuroDarlan #8 EuroDarlan 3 years ago
    Naughty Dog is a solid 95% of why I'm getting a PS4 instead of just upgrading my computer and calling it a day. The general point stands, though, exceptions like this are extremely few and far between anymore. If only it was possible for all video gamers to lean toward one product and just get rid of all of this mess like HD DVD and Blu-ray, it's silly and artificial that we should have to buy all of these stupid boxes.
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  • Avatar for Thusian #9 Thusian 3 years ago
    For me the bigger question at this moment is how many games coming out with Next Gen are also available on current hardware. Sure the pre-orders are higher, but for me, I am still waiting to hear what the big difference is going to be across generational versions and I haven't heard too much convincing other than one will look better. I can't justify 400-500 to play prettier versions of games I currently have access to. I am going to be very wait and see on this gen, and given their architecture in a couple of years when I can think about it, I will be considering an upgrade to my PC, how many of these games you suppose will be dirt cheap on Steam by then?
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  • Avatar for AxiomVerge #10 AxiomVerge 3 years ago
    @weevilo No, I did mean PS3 and 360 . . . maybe not every studio can do this, but a EA we could compile them simultaneously. There were some weird differences, like the PS3 GPU wasn't as powerful, so you had to perform certain operations on the SPU instead of GPU. But otherwise, same visual studio project, two devkits.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #11 Captain-Gonru 3 years ago
    @weevilo You do, however, hear plenty of gamers lament the shift in focus towards those "service platforms" and away from the games themselves. I know I've read plenty of comments about how their PS360 is "so focused on being an entertainment box instead of a gaming console".
    It must suck being a game company. No matter what, someone hates you.
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  • Avatar for abuele #12 abuele 3 years ago
    I'm more concerned about system selling software, than exclusive. For one thing I'm glad exlusives are slowly decaying. But for this new generation of hardware, of the offer presented so far, including also the Wii U, I have not seen, read or felt attracted to own a single game of the line up, or to but a system just to play one single gaem, I think this comes in hand with exlusivity.

    Could there be a correlation between the attempt of publishers by trying to broaden their market, that simply putting effort to the quality of a single game is becoming overrated?
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