Why Can I Hold All These Xbox 360 Exclusives?
If you were paying attention to the articles I’ve been posting recently then you might have come across an infograph with all of the big games for 2013 in one very handy picture. Now since nobody’s been paying attention to the articles I’ve been posting recently, I’ll allow a moment to go and check that infograph out. Go on.
Done? Cool. Now did you notice the extreme dearth of Xbox 360 exclusives?
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And yes I know there is no mention of PS4 content; it’s because that infograph was created prior to Sony’s so-called ‘announcement‘ meaning not only are the PS4 launch titles missing but also the recently announced Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (damn you, Azhar, I just made your typo…) which releases cross-platform anyway and so isn’t really relevant to this discussion.
During the early years of the Xbox 360, it took off a lot more than Sony’s PS3 because it had the titles to boast, with games such as Fable, Halo, Gears of War, Forza and Mass Effect all coming to the fore. Then there were the Xbox LIVE Arcade titles as well, making games the likes of Feeding Frenzy and Luxor household names until people got online and began acquiring better offerings.
Over time Microsoft began to shift their attentions elsewhere, seeing more profit perhaps in the entertainment avenues instead of pure gaming exclusives, promoting their TV, Music and Movies channels. They even had Facebook and Twitter integration for a while. Meanwhile, exclusives suffered.
It didn’t help when Bungie stopped making Halo games (actually it helped me feel better with the world) and BioWare were purchased by Electronic Arts. Then Gas Powered Games went defunct and the remnants of that studio and Digital Anvil moved on. Microsoft’s prime studios were then severely limited.
We now have Epic Games, Lionhead Studios (from whom we have heard nothing of since Fable: The Journey flopped and Peter Molyneux departed to start up 22 Cans) and Turn 10 studios, so that’s Gears of War, Fable and Forza respectively. Add to that, the various Kinect games which, apart from Dance Central and Just Dance, are atrocious.
Where are the other exclusives?
I’m not one of those who prefers exclusives, by any stretch. The more platforms a game works on, the better, in my opinion. But it begins to get a bit troubling when game developers aren’t even considering the Xbox 360 as a viable platform for an exclusive. It cheapens the gaming experience in a way. The console starts to seem more mainstream, more eclectic, more of an afterthought.
The alternative is, maybe Microsoft are holding back on announcing various exclusives until they are ready to announce their next generation console, and then we might see an influx of exclusives being announced. This could ring true especially given that for the first time we are seeing an early-year release window for any Xbox 360 exclusive, let alone a Gears of War title. I certainly hope this is the case.
The thing is, and I truly believe this will be Microsoft’s downfall, there is nothing that the Xbox 360 currently offers that isn’t offered somewhere else. Possibly even better. We have motion control from Kinect, but we also have that on Wii/U and PS3/4. We have Movies, Music and TV channels, but we also have that on Smart TVs. We have games, but we also have that on… wait.
Do you see my point?
As much as Microsoft might want to appeal to the mainstream with a jack-of-all-trades type device that does everything, their lack of specialty (and they teach this in a final-year module I did last year) will come to harm them since not everybody wants everything. Some people already have Smart TVs and just want gaming. What’s to stop them from getting a PS4 instead? Some others might already have gaming and just want the media side of things. Why not a Media Centre PC or Smart TV? Why would they go for something substandard if they can get the best on offer?
If Microsoft is truly stepping away from gaming then we ought to expect less and less in the way of exclusives and more in the way of shitty Kinect games, as well as other non-gaming media, rather than pure gaming. Perhaps cross-platform gaming might finally be a thing in the next-generation offerings, however doubtful that might be if you consider the rivalry currently present.
All I want is for my beloved Xbox to not die a slow and painful death because it no longer holds broad-spectrum appeal, ironically thanks to attempting to cater to the broadest spectrum of consumers.
Bring back the exclusives, Microsoft. And please keep achievements in the next generation console.