Console Exclusives Are Dead: The Xbox One's Games

Console Exclusives Are Dead: The Xbox One's Games

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

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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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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