It’s hard to really call Microsoft’s first-party Xbox Series X games as “exclusives,” seeing as they’re all coming to PC or Xbox One as well. Now, it seems that the upcoming console’s third-party “exclusives” may share a similar fate.
Last Thursday, during the Xbox Games Showcase, Xbox head of partnerships Sarah Bond revealed a host of games that “are being built to launch exclusively on Xbox consoles.”
- STALKER 2
- Warhammer 40,000 Darktide
- Tetris Effect: Connected
- The Gunk
- The Medium
- Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis
Note that her announcement stated “Xbox consoles” and not “Xbox Series X.”
Each game’s trailer was also preceded by the phrase “console launch exclusive.” More importantly, only one of the games, The Gunk, actually straight-up called itself an “exclusive” in its trailer—it’s coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC next fall and nowhere else.
One of the other games, Tetris Effect: Connected, will come as a free update to the original Tetris Effect on PS4, Epic Games Store and Oculus Quest, albeit next summer, almost a year after it hits Xbox One, Xbox Series X and the Windows Store.
The other games, such as Warhammer 40,000 Darktride and The Medium, are in somewhat nebulous territory. They’re listed as “exclusives” for now, but their futures sound pretty open-ended.
Talking to Kotaku, the developers of both have demurred from stating whether or not their games will remain console exclusives, or whether releases on other platforms are in the works.
“We will discuss other platforms and their availability at a future date,” stated a Warhammer 40,000 Darktide developer Fatshark.
Meanwhile, the press release for STALKER 2 states that the game is simply “coming first to Xbox Series X as a console launch exclusive,” all but confirming that it will come to other consoles in the future. (Read: All first-party Xbox games are also coming to PC)
Microsoft backing off on exclusives
The lack of console exclusives was seen by many as a weakness of the Xbox One. Microsoft’s entry into the eighth generation of video game consoles is seen to lack strong exclusive content, especially compared to its rival, the PlayStation 4.
Sony, on the other hand, learned from the lessons of the PlayStation 3. A strong line-up of exclusive games from its own studios, such as the first three Uncharted games, Infamous and The Last of Us was seen to have saved that console from its disastrous launch.
With the current PlayStation 4, Sony has curated an impressive line up of both first- and third-party exclusive games, as well as exclusive content for those games. It’s a move that has helped the PS4 keep the lead this generation.
It’s a strategy that Sony is banking on, coming into the ninth-generation of game consoles, with new games from their stable of exclusive IPs such as Horizon: Forbidden West, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the Demon’s Souls remake headlining the PlayStation 5.
Microsoft, for its part, has begun to bolster its portfolio of studios, looking to match Sony’s output. Last year, the company acquired notable companies such as Obsidian and Double Fine, among others.
Unlike Sony, however, Microsoft doesn’t seem to have any plans to make any of its future first-party titles exclusive and, from what we’ve seen this past Thursday, neither is it really looking for third-party ones as well.
Of course, unlike Sony, Microsoft does have a stake in some of the other platforms. PC games, for the most part, still run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system after all.
It’s possible that Microsoft is thinking more in terms of creating an ecosystem that works across platforms, rather than just selling consoles—allowing players to play their games on their platform of choice, instead of locking them into one.
Whether this move will pay off, however, especially with other ecosystems already thriving on these is yet to be seen.