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'Nobody gains from console exclusivity,' says Sony's dev relations boss
'Nobody gains from console exclusivity,' says Sony's dev relations boss
October 4, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

October 4, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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    15 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing



"Right now exclusives are just a way for [console makers] to brag louder. Nobody gains from exclusivity in perpetuity."
- Sony Computer Entertainment America's Adam Boyes.

In a candid keynote address at IndieCade's professional conference today, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) VP of publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes acknowledged that though console exclusivity might drive console sales, it wasn't fundamentally productive to either console makers or developers.

"Right now exclusives are just a way for [console makers] to brag louder," said Boyes. "Nobody gains from exclusivity in perpetuity."

Boyes likened console manufacturers to car dealerships, wherein independent developers served as high-end car mechanics capable of fine-tuning the machine's performance and bringing "real innovation" to the platform. Nevertheless, he did not see long-term exclusivity as fitting in with that analogy.

"Developers now have the option to deliver on a huge number of platforms," said Boyes. "We want developers to be successful." And that, he said, leads almost inevitably to multiplatform publishing.


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Comments


Thomas Happ
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I think, from a console maker's point of view, you'd still need a few exclusives (first party) to give people a reason not to get the other guy's console, but overall, the game sales on any one platform will improve with the greater exposure it gets on other platforms.

Andrew Wallace
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If he feels this way then why does Sony still have so many exclusives?

Christian Nutt
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I don't think he's speaking across-the-board about exclusive games whatsoever; this was said as as a keynote at IndieCade aimed at independent developers. That's the context. Boyes doesn't work for the part of Sony that oversees its triple-A exclusives e.g. The Last of Us.

John Flush
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Maybe from an Indie's point of view that might be true, but I buy a console based on the exclusives. And if the exclusives are not strong enough I don't ever buy a second current gen system once I have one. The exclusives on the PS3 are the only regret I still have from this generation because I still haven't bought one.

Wylie Garvin
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You should. Its worth buying a PS3 today, just to play The Last of Us and Ni No Kuni. There were some other good exclusives you could then play too: Uncharted 3, God of War 3, Little Big Planet, some Ratchet & Clank games, etc. You can get a bundle of ICO + Shadow of the Colossus for it (if you can put up with the trophies in SotC... ick).

Dane MacMahon
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I hate exclusives. Even exclusives on my platform. I compare it to having to buy a different DVD player for every movie studio, and that's insane. We have been trained for 30 years to buy different systems for different games so it feels natural, even though it's anything but.

Everyone seeking ways to increase mainstream interest in video games: how about we stop annoying our customers with this crap and expecting them to own 3 consoles, 2 handhelds, 2 phones and who knows how many service accounts? A brief timed exclusive to one service or another is fine, but far too often we go well beyond that.

Real platform exclusivity needs to end. I feel like someday it will, and it will be good for consumers and the industry both.

Roberto Bruno
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I'm absolutely on your side in this.

Maria Jayne
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Agree, when you think of the same context being applied to any other electrical appliance in your home, you would avoid buying the product. Consoles get a pass because at one time, they used a different format i.e. cartridges.

Now we're all disc and digital, and even the next gen is running on the same hardware, it's only done to annoy potential customers rather than reach the larger audience. It says something that exclusivity has to be paid/contracted for. Because you have to lose money to get it.

Ian Fisch
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Yea stupid console manufacturers and their desire to make money.

Lance McKee
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I hope this doesn't come across as me trying to put down your point at all, but I thought I'd put in my humble two cents which happens to be opposite from yours.

While a DVD is mostly going to be the same experience between different DVD players, even today's consoles offer a pretty different experience. Between the feel of the controller in your hands, the layout of the buttons on the controller, the route taken to get into the game from the system menus, and then the console-specific services tied into the game (achievements, how online play is handled, etc.) I feel like these little differences add up to a much different "feel" on each console.

I'm probably way too picky, but for me I really like the idea of purchasing a game and knowing that it was designed and developed with all of these little things in mind, and that what I am experiencing is (as much as possible) what the developers intended. To me it would seem more accurate to compare multi-platform games to a DVD that displayed a message before the movie stating, "Please note that due to differences between various TV screens and audio systems, we had no way of knowing how this film would end up being presented. Therefore, we spent less time fixing up the film and more time simply making sure it would work on most configurations. Please cross your fingers now and hope that the film you are about to watch somewhat resembles what we were going for."

In other words, I love playing Mario 64 on my Nintendo 64 because it feels like the game was perfectly made for that specific setup. I also very much enjoy playing Skyrim on my Xbox 360, but I can't help but wonder at times if certain buggy parts of it only work properly when played on a high-end PC, or if maybe certain things would look or sound better if I were playing it on a PS3, etc.

Lincoln Thurber
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When you are talking to Indies/Artisans game creators the last words you want to say are "We are gonna tie you up in deals!!!" I bet many Idie developers cringe at the idea of complex deals, so what Sony said was the opposite.

Abracadabra they say, "Exclusives and big deals are bad." and they say that very loud to people who believe that exclusives and big deals are bad. Again, Sony is showing mastery at messaging magic. Also, this sounds good to gamers too, thus this message sounds good to teh listeners and to the people who overheard it third hand (i.e. gamers). Mastery of messaging is not just telling teh people in front of you what they want to hear, but saying it in a way that doesn't cause problems with other groups down the chain.

Marvin Papin
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No exclusivity = no competitors, and so players would inexorably go to their friends choices and so 1 platform then prices go up and efforts toward devs from console makers go down.

We cannot really say it's useless
(in absolute, i agree Christian Nutt, that's all about context)

Neo Mahi
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Hm... I don't know if Sony Computer Entertainment is going to agree with this. Otherwise, why wouldn't Sony expand their profitability or games from Guerrilla Games, Naughty Dog, or Sucker Punch? Why not send Uncharted, The Last of Us, or InFamous toward Microsoft (as Microsoft cringes every time Naughty Dog announces a game). Let's face it, everyone wants Naughty Dog. Sony profits and sells consoles because you can ONLY play Naughty Dog games on PlayStation hardware. After E3, Google's most searched topic was "The Last of Us XBOX 360". What is that telling you? So, if Sony is more profitable by not having exclusives, why not market the game to Xbox fans for Microsoft's console? You can't, or you don't sell hardware.

Even as far as third-party software goes, I don't buy into that either. Sony knows that Microsoft sells more copies of "Call of Duty" on Xbox 360 because Microsoft is in the financial situation to be able to shell out money for EXCLUSIVE CONTENT, while Sony Corp. is struggling financially and can't put that sort of money into that. Third-Party developers also LOVE MONEY! More so than they love to make games (contrary to what they actually say--I mean really-- money makes the world go around. Developers can be bought off with the right amount of money, Sony just doesn't have that so they can't afford it. Its politics within the gaming industry. When you can't match up to another, in this case the competition, you've got to have a smooth and sly way to excuse what you can't do to make it seem negligable. What Adam Boyes should be doing--rather than letting his screen time and current boost in attention from the media get to him-- is talk about how proud Sony Computer Entertainment is to have these developers on board, and do whatever they can to help them find success and make a home at PlayStation because PlayStation is the place to play and that's why they have Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, and likely eventually Quantic Dream. Why else is Sony purchasing developers rather than relying on the PlayStation Brand's pedigree to carry them along. NO! There is still uneasiness that PlayStation isn't that strong--even after as many years, so acquisition is a necessary.

I'll finish by quoting Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton (speaking of Media Molecule) he said: "We've acquired them to ensure that all their talent and genius remain within the PlayStation Brand." That I believe was the E3 that LittleBigPlanet 2 was announced which was in... 2009? Sony needs console exclusives. They're just not as easy to come by as they were in the days of PS2 where if it was announced as an exclusive, it stayed that way and Sony enjoyed it. With PS3, an Xbox 360 game said it was Only On Xbox, but after time went to the PS3 and vice-versa. Exclusive means nothing unless its first party these days and Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all know darn well that they need them, when they can afford them. Otherwise, its politics.

Mark Fronstin
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I wonder if the makers of Dust 514 (CCP) will release the UT III Engine based game on PC's then ? Right now it is an exclusive PS3 release only.

Christopher Plummer
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The title purposefully cut off the most important part of the sentence.

"Nobody gains from exclusivity in perpetuity."

Perpetuity being the key word there. Sony wants as many exclusives as it can get because exclusives showcase the power of their hardware better than a game that was designed with another platform in mind. They eventually need these exclusives to spread the goodness on other platforms to keep up with growth and developer expectations. This allows their exclusive sequels to have a bigger built-in audience and improves the prospects of other developers choosing to make Sony's platform the lead platform.


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