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Why Microsoft Will Always Have the Best First Person Shooters

In the console wars, developers sometimes pick sides. Why do some side with Microsoft, especially when making first person shooters?

Becoming an independent video game developer is not an easy task. You will work with limited resources, reduced staff, and not enough funding, but if you present the industry with a concept that grabs the attention of larger companies, they may come to you and offer a solution to your problems.

Console exclusivity is one way of doing this, something Microsoft has a long-standing tradition doing, releasing exclusive games for its consoles with an emphasis on the FPS genre. Of course, the finest example is the Halo franchise.

In the latest generation of video game systems, Microsoft released the Xbox One and as of now, it features four exclusive FPS games: Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo 5: Guardians, Titanfall and Super Hot, which is one the vastly underrated games you must play when you are tired of Call of Duty.

Considering that the Halo franchise is owned by Microsoft itself, it is no surprise to see it locked in on the Xbox. But there is also Titanfall and Super Hot, both developed by independent companies, which decided to side with Microsoft.

The company offers payment to grant the exclusivity of the game for its consoles, but the side-effect of this move is the reduction of the potential market a game can reach. With that said, what does Microsoft have to offer that makes siding with them an irrefutable offer for these indie FPS developers?

Console exclusivity through the years:

In previous generations of systems, signing an agreement to make a game exclusive to a certain console was the best modus operandi to follow because the systems available in the market featured significantly different hardware. 

It was difficult; therefore, to deliver a game for more than one platform, because adapting the project to a different technology would consume too much time and money. As the decades went by, on the other hand, systems started to converge towards a single point.

In the current generation of gaming systems, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One contain technologies with similar capabilities, reducing the amount of time and resources required to develop a game and thus making cross-platform releases more viable.

But with the ease to produce a title for several systems, why would a company opt to suppress a portion of its market share in detriment of an exclusivity deal? And why with Microsoft especially?

 

It is not just about the cash:

Money moves our world the same way a chest full of loot drives our virtual adventures, but Microsoft has an advantage over Sony in this regard. While the latter can invest tens of millions of dollars in the development and the promotion of a game, the previous can offer something else.

Signing a deal with Microsoft not only grants an abundance of financial resources for marketing and production, but it also ensures that the product has the possibility of being released on the PC.

Considering that the biggest drawback of participating in an exclusivity deal is the limitation of sales, being able to release your game on two different platforms, while under a contract of exclusivity with Microsoft, hinders the damage caused by the reduction of the market share. This is something Sony cannot offer.

There is, however, another factor that contributes to Microsoft being attractive to FPS developers.

User experience:

Being able to develop a game for the PC, while in an exclusivity contract with Microsoft, does not only allow the developer to release the game in two different systems but by delivering a PC version of the product, it can live up to its true potential.

Desktop computers can offer better graphics and higher frame rates, thus creating a more compelling visual experience. But this is not just about looks. Computers feature a mouse instead of a controller, and this device allows for more accurate movements and a more fluid gameplay experience.

In games where being precision is key, such as Titanfall and Super Hot, being able to receive funding, to develop for the PC is an advantageous perk. One again, an advantage Microsoft offers.

Conclusion:

While Sony has the Killzone franchise, Microsoft is the company you should be eager to receive a phone call from if you are an indie developer, as it can offer you with more than just money.

It can present you with the opportunity of developing for more than a single platform, and it may grant you the chance and the resources to produce your game on the PC, helping it live up to its plenitude, with better graphics and a more fluid gameplay.

Published Nov. 14th 2016

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