As Sony Considers Software on Other Platforms, Microsoft to Refocus on Exclusives

Sony might start publishing its games on non-Sony platforms, while Microsoft is reportedly pulling back to focus just on Xbox and PC.

After years of working closely with Insomniac Games, Sony recently acquired the developer, bringing it on as a new first-party studio. Despite mostly making games for Sony platforms over the years, Insomniac has created and is still working on games playable on other consoles, including mobile and VR.

While it's possible the now-first-party studio will be restricted to Sony games from now on (even if it puts those currently in-dev VR games in limbo), recent comments from Sony hint otherwise.

Bloomberg recently reported on a statement from Shawn Layden, head of Sony's worldwide studios, that suggests such a change isn't in store.

Layden said console exclusives will always be part of Sony's plan for success, but it doesn't mean that's the only plan for its first-party studios:

We must support the PlayStation platform that is nonnegotiable. That said, you will see in the future some titles coming out of my collection of studios which may need to lean into a wider installed base."

Bloomberg chalks the change up to Sony struggling in a post-Fortnite world. Yet that seems rather unlikely, given the PlayStation 4's success this generation, and even since Fortnite released last year. 

In fact, Layden's statement could be connected to that success and the real estate held by the PlayStation brand in the collective gamer conscious. Sony's financial reports from earlier this year showed how important software — including software from Sony's team of studios — was to the company's profitability in the video game sector.

Expanding software availability, specifically for first-party developers, alongside further promotion of the PS4 is the next logical step as Sony marches toward the PS5.

It's a step Microsoft seemed to be taking earlier this year as well. The once Microsoft-exclusive title Cuphead ended up on the Nintendo Switch, Banjo-Kazooie is coming back to Nintendo (in a sense), and Ori and the Blind Forest, another high-profile exclusive title, is also coming to the Switch.

It's not a trend Microsoft plans to continue, though, and it's reportedly because Microsoft acquired several new studios. The company issued a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, remarking that:

...going forward, these new studios will focus on making games for our platforms. We have no plans to further expand our exclusive first party games to other consoles.

We continue to believe deeply in cross play and progression of games with the right flexibility for developers to insure a fair and fun experience.

Current projects scheduled for other platforms are only going to be published because they were already in progress, Microsoft said.

It's a seemingly odd move given the potential for expanding audiences beyond just the Xbox, though Microsoft also said games will still be accessible from other devices via its cloud service, such as Xbox on Windows 10.

Whether the move helps or hurts the gaming and tech giant remains to be seen. In a world where Sony may branch out to other platforms and Stadia provides experiences on any platform owned by players, the future will be undeniably interesting. 

Contributor

Josh Broadwell's gaming career began early--1993, to be exact--when he was introduced to the Super Nintendo and Super Mario World. Despite all the magnificent games the SNES and, later, the original PlayStation had to offer, it wasn't until the GameBoy Advance era that he finally discovered RPGs, which quickly became a favorite genre. He holds a BA in history, an MA in history, and is currently pursuing an MA in strategic communication.

Published Aug. 21st 2019

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