While the Xbox 360 may be king of online games and content, giving gamers some fantastic online play, the behind the scenes politics at Microsoft sometimes paint a rather shady picture when it comes to releasing exclusive games on the marketplace.
If you’re an up and coming game studio, who have the perfect little indie game that you want to release, you better let Microsoft have first dibs on it, or they’ll just flat out refuse you, which is something that SCEA Senior Vice President of Public Relations Rob Dyer considers an attempt to protect an inferior technology by the company.
If you look closely at a certain term governing the release of games on other platforms or with added content, you’ll find that it says;
Should content not be shipped simultaneously with competing platforms in all regions where the content is available, or should the content and features available on the Xbox 360 not be in parity with versions on competing platforms, then Microsoft reserves the right to not allow that content to be published for Xbox 360 or released on Xbox Live marketplace.
Dyer feels that the term is an attempt by Microsoft to undermine their competition. â€œI think what (Xbox Europe boss) Chris Lewis and the other representatives at Microsoft are doing is protecting an inferior technology. I think they want to dumb it down and keep it as pedestrian as possible so that if you want to do anything for Blu-ray or you have extra content above 9 gigs or you want to do anything of that nature, you’d better sure as heck remember that Microsoft can’t handle that.â€
â€œAnd that’s a huge problem with them. It first started on the smaller pubs, and we can talk about what’s happened on XBL and the policy they have there that requires publishers to have a whole litany of things in order to get onto their network or they have to go through and be published by Xbox, by Microsoft, which essentially lets them dictate how long they’ll be exclusive and whether or not they own the IP, etc, etc.â€
â€œIt’s now progressed to not just be these smaller indie pubs that are obviously very easy to kick around. It’s moved up the food chain. It’s gone to B and A level publishers."
Dyer quoted the terms further, remarking how it affected business in the industry quite negatively.
"So potentially any time we’ve gone out and negotiated exclusive content of things that we’ve announced at things like DPS or E3, publishers are getting the living crap kicked out of them by Microsoft because they are doing something for the consumer that is better on our platform than it might be perceived on theirs.â€
"So from a creativity standpoint and what we are doing to try to make it better for the consumer, our view is Microsoft’s doing everything they can to eliminate that because they have an inferior technology."
While exclusive games and content have their place in the competitive market that gaming has become, it should never be to the detriment of other players. We can understand Gears of War or Uncharted being used as flagship titles to persuade you to own that specific console, but when these practices impact on smaller studios who are trying to emerge in the industry, then no one really wins.
Last Updated: September 5, 2011