Yeah, this is a weird one. You remember how a couple of days ago, we reported that Sony seemed a little bit worried about Xbox's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and specifically the Call of Duty franchise? Since then, RPS has pointed out that Microsoft had an interesting way of justifying the acquisition in a separate response back in June.
At the time, Microsoft was responding to the New Zealand Commerce Commission, and suggested that there was "nothing unique" about Activision Blizzard's games that would be considered a "must have" for a rival video game distributor that could give rise to a foreclosure concern.
Here's the full little snippet from the response:
“Specifically, with respect to Activision Blizzard video games, there is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is a ‘must have’ for rival PC and console video game distributors that could give rise to a foreclosure concern."
Basically, then, this isn't a case of Microsoft admitting that Call of Duty is bad or anything like that, but rather that there's nothing particularly unique about it (or any other ActiBlizz IP) that they believe should cause a foreclosure issue.
It's still a bit of an eyebrow-raising quote though... it's been getting a lot of attention on social media!
What do you make of this? Let us know down in the comments section below.
What they mean is there is nothing unique in the sense rivals would be unable to compete.
Even though COD is always the #1 seller, there are plenty of other rival FPS games in Apex, Battlefield, Destiny, etc.
To me it means, let’s say this to help get the deal through, it’s business words.
There is nothing unique about COD. And there are objectively far, far better FPS games than COD on the market. But (as I said a few days ago on this very site) you cannot compete with COD because it has transcended "gamers" and is the household name in videogames. People who have never played a videogame or touched a games console in their lives know what COD is.
That's what Microsoft is after. Being able to put the words "included with Game Pass" at the bottom of every COD advertisement on every website and in every magazine or newspaper.
As much as I want this deal to go through this is such bs.
You dont buy another studio for close to 70 billion USD when they have nothing unique on offer. I get this is just MS trying to lay the groundwork for their legal defense of the acquisition, but still.
COD is a bit more powerful than I thought.
I asked a couple of COD PS4 crazies about what if it goes Xbox exclusive.
Very quick reply. Get an Xbox.
This has all been so good to read and a true insight into the gaming landscape today.
Hot off the heels of Phil Spencer saying how much he’s looking forward to God of War…and all the swooning that gathered from the Spencer faithful cheering the ‘console wars dead’… we got to see PlayStations desperate attempt to try and block them getting Activision…and now we get to see Xbox play it down as they’re desperate to get Activision, showing us once again…for all Phil Spencer’s promoting other platforms games that are out the month he’s failed, yet again, to give his own platforms something first party to play…xbox really are desperate to be competitive this gen.
I mean most knew the moves with all the acquisitions Xbox aren’t content with being last place this gen…the want gamepass adopted by everyone, and understand you actually need AAA for that. But it is nice to get a glimpse behind Phil Spencer’s public facing smile, and see that behind the scenes he’s not content with just being a cuck.
For all the eye rolling hand holding let’s be friends stuff… that’s great, you want to believe that progresses gaming and benefits gamers then good luck to ya.
Console wars for me benefits gamers…and this is going to breed more competitiveness…which means they’re going to fight over my money…and try harder ensuring quality products.
What a load of bull, then why buy them?
100 million warzone players but the game isn't a must have? Diablo 3 sold over 30 million but isn't a must have? Overwatch has over 50 million sales, yet again is that not classed as a must have? Then there's iconic gaming icons spyro and crash bandicoot, let's not even joke that they aren't must haves.
That statement reaks of desperation to get the deal done. All FTC has to do is look at player figures and sales of those games to know that they are "must haves"
@Dezzy70 playstation dont "need" COD, the switch has proved that
Xbox fans on day of purchase “this is massive massive. Call of duty is THE biggest franchise, spyro, crash and massive names in gaming”
The deal gets questioned:
“These games aren’t anything special”
Of course this is as crazy deal. Same as Bethesda was.
I love Xbox but no other company has bought two monsters of this size.
EA buying codemasters is the closest.
I don’t really care as for many years I have not been a COD fan, years ago I used to enjoy the campaign.
I just commented as I asked a couple of COD PS4 Gamers out of interest. To see if they would change console to play COD and they said yes.
PlayStation gained massive traction with the PS4 when they got both the COD and FIFA advertising rights. It made the PS4 COD and FIFA goto console over night and they sold hundreds of thousands of consoles of the back of that deal.
I know many that have PS4 and just play COD and/or FIFA.
I think COD and FIFA are some off the biggest ever selling games on PS4.
So don’t underestimate the power of the COD and FIFA gamers and casual gamers.
@UltimateOtaku91 This comment rarely holds much water. I’ve seen it a few times.
It never ever takes into account how many people use the switch as a secondary console… in which case they’re likely playing games like cod, fifa, madden ect else where.
It also insinuates that COD isn’t a hardware seller…when it has been for generation and still is today. It doesn’t take into account that the casual audience, that makes up the majority of a consoles install base, buy into what they know…and what their friends are playing. One of the few games they buy is cod. So having that day 1 on gamepass is a pretty big deal…that could only be rivalled by having fifa day 1 on a subscription service I reckon. And I guess gamepass effectively has that too to some extent.
What the switch has proved is that exclusives sell hardware.
@UltimateOtaku91 yeh Sony don't need cod ...... They are going to take cod away blah blah blah stop em plz we won't make enough money ... Yeh they don't need cod at all
Oh and what happened on the day the takeover was announced .... Sony jumped on that phone to Microsoft the same day ....yeh they aren't worried
This is ponies searching for their own "controversial quotes" to latch onto from the regulation because theyve been battered hard with them in the last day or so. Desperation. I just found Sonys comments funny, they're being a little shifty trying to derail the deal, but nothing xbox wouldn't have not have done too, in the reverse.
But no. Ponies get all butthurt like people are making fun of a loved one in their lives. Some have even petitioned the regulagors. Embarrassing stuff. For crying out loud, you cannot effect this deal in any way, just relax and let all parties do their jobs. And Xbox have already told you that you can still keep call of duty. The result of this acquisition does not effect you fans in any major way - regardless of outcome. I tell you what it is: they think of their white plastic box like it's their precious, they won't buy another kind of plastic box - no way. But they REALLY don't like to see xbox gamers enjoying gamepass. It drives them insane that we'll be playing cod at no extra cost. Even the ponies that don't play cod themselves! It's pathetic imo.
Honestly, the console wars are the single most stupid thing ever imo.
They aren’t wrong. There are a lot of first person shooters out there. COD is just one of many. Same for the other games.
@Dezzy70 there are a few factors as to why Sony dominated with the PS4. Being the lead platform for COD was one of them. Nobody should underestimate that. Sonys most loyal can’t seem to figure out that casual gamers are by far the biggest and most important audience to attract, and that’s exactly what Sony did with the PS4. It became the trendy casual console of choice.
I’m just ready for the merger already. All of us are like 98% sure it’ll go through, and depending on our preferences we have different reactions to statements like this.
Give me a slower release cycle of COD, put some of those studios to work making mascot games and new IPs, and keep laying the groundwork for a steady variety of games on GP. Having new ownership means less of a need to profit off of COD alone and more of a need for a variety of offerings to sell GP subs. That’s what I’m ready for. Get it done MS!
@Dezzy70 yeh cod is massive business , they are keeping cod as.multiplatform but I'd put money of Xbox having exclusive dlc/maps/weapons on game pass or only on Xbox and that alone will get the casual cod players to move and them casuals count for most of the money for cod
@GunValkyrian why not? That is probably the most suited acquisition possible with how close they have been for many many years. Sony buy studios they have a close relationship with like house marquee and insomniac, so square would make perfect sense for a sony takeover
These are legalese terms, essentially stating that there is legitimate competition in every genre of game that Activision/Blizzard produces, as to say there is no monopoly if this goes through. But, of course, the uneducated and the trolls are gonna have a heyday with the statements out of context...
@UltimateOtaku91 these are legal terms being stated to say none of those games are a monopoly in their genre, and it's true. Try to find a way to separate that from your Sony fandom...
@Trmn8r no they also said none of their games are "must haves", so what game to you classes as a must have?
Surely games that sell 30-50 million each or games that have over 100 million players are must haves.
Can’t disagree with that and the PS5 is rolling off the back of that right now.
And to my frustration apart from having in my opinion the best console and game pass, Xbox are letting Sony do it again, due to no big advertising deals, no big AAA exclusives and no good trendy PR.
I know I say this a lot but series x are sitting on my local shop shelves not sold. UK built up area, Greater London.
That’s what makes me annoyed with Xbox, having the best console and game pass now the initial loyal and a few more have purchased is not doing enough for Xbox. And they call Phil a hero on here, I don’t think so. They are stating to lose it in the UK now after a very good start.
I read between the lines here: we are not promising any regulatory body that we would keep publishing CoD games on competing platforms.
But they have a good point: there is no CoD on switch, and they have not faced anything close to “foreclosure”.
@UltimateOtaku91 Again, learn to separate your Sony partisanship and realize this is just a legal talking point. Not every player needs Call of Duty to play videogames, not every player even needs Call of Duty to play PVP shooters. I didn't buy Vanguard, and yet I play Apex Legends and Halo Infinite online. Clearly it isn't a "must have" for me... Being the most popular in sales of its genre, doesn't make it a monopoly, and tbh Fortnite has the highest sales/users in the PVP shooter genre. But, keep getting hung up on your vague definition of a term...
@Dezzy70 Exactly, there just playing nice to the FTC.
Xbox need to get relevant again, get trendy get a drum beat going like in the Xbox360 days.
The games and Kudos Xbox had in the Xbox360 days, exclusive games kept getting pumped out to total glory, they also had the COD and FIFA advertising rights.
Get the general public engaged more, all ages, all game types.
Sony saw all this tried to make it up a bit with the PS3 but knew what they had to do studio and game wise exclusives and then took the COD and FIFA advertising rights off Xbox.
All Sony did was exactly what Xbox did in the Xbox 360 days and waited and copied them with the PS4.
Microsoft with the series x are trying something a bit different with game pass, fair enough, which has grabbed the loyal Xbox gang like me and a few others. But it is slowing in my country the UK.
They desperately need exclusives that grab the general public in the masses and need to be trendy again.
No disrespect to Starfield and say Redfall but those games will not grab the general public by the masses.
They missed a very good opportunity with Halo Infinite to start that engagement, but not with the end game that was released, also with piss poor PR advertising.
FH5 got a good little ride in the UK, but since then XBOX momentum has slowed a lot UK and it should come as no surprise to anyone.
Microsoft 100% right, I've never thought to myself "I must have the new cod" and never saw anyone online or irl saying this, BUT.. we all eventually end up playing the new cod so what they did is so so smart, acquiring the franchise for game pass, that way people will definitely get game pass
It’s not hard understand.
This is lawyer/corporate speak to try get the deal over the line. That is all.
It holds water also as every Blizzard game has a similar rival. WoW has other MMOs, CoD has tons of rival FPS games etc.
What the wording REALLY says is that there is nothing the acquisition is doing to take away a unique feature away from rivals. Activision-Blizzard do not own the patent to a software that Xbox owning would create a monopoly issue over. (Think if a car manufacturer bought the rights to make electric cars that puts other car companies out of business).
That kind of thing would be a unique aspect that would be unfair on rivals and may cause problems, but Microsoft is simply saying there is no unique aspect of Activision-Blizzard that cannot be mimicked by rivals so there should be no legal barrier to the acquisition.
@Trmn8r show me where is said the word monopoly? All I said was their games are in general "must haves", they have the most popular first person shooter, most popular arena shooter, and most popular dungeon crawler rpg which I'd say is unique as nothing else touches diablo in its genre.
I've mentioned nothing about a monopoly, just pointing out that statement was false.
@GunValkyrian but don't you have a playstation as well? That's just the negatives that come with Studio acquisitions that both sides have to deal with, same with Sony players not getting anymore Bethesda games. Sony focuses more on single player games just like square and they need to get back into the Japanese Market so buying square makes sense for them.
Only games Microsoft are going to put on ps5 after the Activision deal are multilayer games like call of duty, overwatch and diablo whilst crash and spyro will be xbox exclusive.
I fully believe that whatever company Microsoft buys that their single player games will be xbox exclusive, so either way whoever buys square enix the other side is losing out
Translation: Microsoft isn't creating a monopoly by purchasing Activision Blizzard.
@Notoriousmakavel I think it's just a matter of time personally.
It would be so funny for Microsoft to buy square and keep the games multiplatform ,all the ppl who used to play ff games as exclusives now have to pay microsoft to play em
I never really thought of COD as “unique,” but it is a major selling game. After the quotes came out on Sony’s response, I don’t know what else Microsoft could have said about it.
I understand Sony’s concerns, but after all the paying for advertisement rights, exclusives and time exclusives on the PlayStation consoles over the years… they don’t have room to talk. Kind of convenient it’s all said after the Bungie acquisition is done now.
@GunValkyrian That's exactly what I hope happens.
@UltimateOtaku91 Congrats, their games are very popular you are correct. The entire point of their statement is involving antitrust laws (monopolies). Like I said from the start, people just don't understand this stuff at all...
While they do have some good games, I'm inclined to agree MS is right.
Of course you can't deny COD is a big seller but yeah. I still agree.
Must haves are a matter of perception. I wouldn’t classify any Activision title as a must have. They sell well, but if Activision didn’t exist it wouldn’t matter because at the end of the day we’d still have hundreds of similar titles. One could argue that their titles are successful because of good marketing campaigns. Call of Duty is a one hit wonder, Blizzard games ride on the developer’s storied history despite many devs moving on to other companies, and since they practically disbanded Toys For Bob - they don’t have any other games in development.
I'd argue Bethesda games are more unique and closer to 'must haves' .
The success of actibliz games have ensured many copies, and some successes.
How many big publishers are creating games like Prey, Dishonored, Doom, Skyrim, or Fallout?
Everyone outside of the board of directors and representatives of the relevant business in negotiation here is just spouting uninformed opinion. As an older gamer I'm not threatened by acquisitions, we the buyers hold them accountable by voting with our money and our ability to absolutely tank something by the use of the tools we are using right now. Don't mess with gamers, you'll get rekt. I'm an xbox/pc user and would go ape ***** on MS/XBOX public threads, and not buy their products to fight for our gaming community, and you all know you would too. Take a look at the recent Wall Street news, the people have the power if they band together. Exclusive rights won't be around for much longer.
People carrying on like Microsoft have sha**** their grandma...it's ambiguous legal speak plain and simple.
@trukme Yeap, but it’s more the customer then the people, same with any company. Any company is selling something, if no one purchases what they are selling that company won’t survive long at all. And that includes any giant company too.
This is a good and truthful come back by Microsoft, I see some ponies on here arguing against it.. but it’s been written by lawyers and is just done so for the regulators. They’ve come out with some better comments yesterday too from the legal teams. This deal will go through this month I think.
Microsoft will say and do anything at all to achieve their aims including bs which is clearly not true, which covers this statement. Ive watched this firm trample over all sorts of others for over 40 years and its never been in the interests of consumers and never will be no mattter how many friendly mouthpieces they put in front of interviewers.
Id expect no less from Sony if they were in the same position, but that dont make it excusable.
Core gamers no longer care so much about cod, but real money has never been about core gamers, it comes from the masses who equate the franchise with the 'shooter they must play'.
I fully expect the deal to go ahead. But is it anticompetitive to buy COD? Of course it is, and thats whats attracting MS.
I’m still not convinced that MS would can PlayStation COD after they are not contractually obliged to make it anyway - it would still be financially prudent to make it multi platform. The real power behind the acquisition is simply being able to bring the COD franchise to Gamepass, and all new titles to the service on Day 1. That’s what MS want, and as a Gamepass subscriber it is definitely what I want too!
@Titntin well put
The good thing for MS is that nobody else is against the acquisition rather than Sony, everybody else doesn't have the same concerns with Sony so I don't see the regulators take Sony's opinion seriously. It's their word against the hole industry.
I belive exclusive cod on xbox system can make xbox console the winner of this gen sales, at least in usa.
Cod will stay multiplatform, but will release on gamepass. That's my prediction anyway, there is no point in making it exclusive
@Sakai not just that gp users will get exclusive levels/weapon skins etc etc , I can even seen them doing game pass perks for extra 2 X xp and stuff like that to tempt users to not only move to the Xbox platform but also pay for game pass
I agree that there's nothing unique about Activision games, and COD in particular. That's why I hardly play any of them. Other publishers are releasing interesting and special games that further their genres, and Activision are releasing the Big Macs of videogames; dull assembly line products made by overworked, underpaid, and disposable employees, and far too much fat.
When Activision games come to GP the only ones I want to play really are the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot remakes, and they didn't even make them, and then folded a super successful studio (who earned them BILLIONS with Skylanders) into COD support.
Perhaps it's just me, but I read this more of a "there's nothing here that isn't dissimilar to what's already on the market".
Yeah sure, CoD is the brand name, but being the top-dog, as it were, doesn't mean there isn't space on the market for another big shooter. Destiny came out on the back foot and look at that now... It's a completely different kettle of fish but it proves that there's more than enough space for other shooters.
FIFA is a brand name, and we are soon to see a shake up there. It will be interesting to see if people stick with the name, or stick with the developer.
@Kaloudz People never stick with the name. This has happened multiple times in the past, including with a football game: Championship Manager devs breaking off into Football Manager.
FM immediately took over the whole market in its first iteration and CM was out of business after a couple years.
@Markatron my mom has no idea what CoD is.
If there's nothing unique about Acti/Bliz why spend $70bn on it?
I'm lucky enough to have both consoles but I truely believe this deal should be tanked. I don't think this is good for gamers in anyway at all. If this was going to a third party that didn't make gaming platforms then fair play but I don't think it's good when a company who makes a console/pc buys a a company and makes thier games exclusive to themselves or what ever else they might do. I don't think Sony should be able to do it and I don't think Xbox should be able to either. I would love the competition to come from who creates the best 1st party games not who buys the best 3rd party developer.
@PhileasFragg Completely agree but what makes them unique is their almost unassailable brand position. COD, Fifa etc. sell bucket loads EVERY year even if each years entry is very similar.
Hilarious to see the very obvious sides from Sony and Microsoft here, both saying whatever they can to try and get what they want from this merger. Neither is being particularly honest, it's just business posturing.
There isn't anything 'unique' about A/B games - certainly not in recent years for sure. CoD is NOT unique as there are LOTs of FPS games all offering something similar. From F2P games like Fortnite, Apex Legends etc to games like Destiny, Battlefield, Halo, Doom etc all offering a similar game-play loop. Even Diablo has a lot of similar games too.
Its not like CoD is the ONLY FPS game in the world and thank's to some 'patent' or other, prevents any other studio from making a FPS shooter. Its not the first to offer Multi-player matches either, the only one doing a more grounded military shooter instead of Sci-fi with double jumps and sci-fi based story/weapons etc so its not 'Unique'.
Its like all the 3rd person Narrative driven Linear games share a LOT of common game-play mechanics. They are like 'different' flavours of ice-cream when they are all still just 'ice-cream'. CoD is just one of countless FPS games, Diablo is one of countless isometric style RPGs offering a 'different flavour of the same basic game-play loop...
The statement is a funny non-sequitur, but I see from a business angle what they're really saying. They're really saying that Acti's games are not a unique product category that depends on its independent nature to feed the market, and they aren't wrong. They don't mean to say CoD isn't an iconic brand that a competitor would struggle to mount competition against as a known famous brand, or that Diablo isn't synonymous with hack and slash looters from which all others are clones. They just mean that CoD isn't functionally different in the market as a product than every other online shooter, and that Diablo isn't functionally different in the market from many other slasher looters. If Activision went bankrupt tomorrow and all their IP vanished without a trace, all the product categories they make would still exist in the market and another similar game would take their throne.
They're not lying, from a product anti-competitive stance it's 100% accurate for what the regulators are questioning. But that does sound funny for a company to say "Actually our products aren't that special. Quite derivative, really. A million other's like 'em." But the regulators aren't questioning if their IP are the market leading IP. The regulators are asking if there's any alternative in the market to these IP. And there are. A numerous amount. They're just not as well marketed and successful.
@Bleachedsmiles I think Switch proved that there's demand for portable gaming beyond the current AppStore landscape. It proved that more than it proved exclusives sell hardware considering for the first half of it's life most of it's "exclusives" were previously exclusives on a home console that the exclusives couldn't sell for anything, and series that previously sold mediocre on mediocre selling hardware suddenly sold like gangbusters. If anything Switch proves hardware sells software more than exclusives sell hardware, and that desirable hardware + desirable software prints money. It also proves that "most powerful" hardware is irrelevant to the above two considerations, though I thought the PS1 and PS2 already proved that followed by Wii and DS.
So if this reeks of desperation on the part of Xbox, @UltimateOtaku91, what on Earth does Sony's attempt to stop the deal from happening reek of?
This is what Paragraph 285 (of the 118 page response from Xbox to the regulator) says
"Sony and Nintendo have strong and differentiated offerings (including their own exclusive titles). For example, IDC has identified that key Sony-exclusive titles in 2018 include God of War and Marvel's Spider Man, in addition to other prominent titles such as Last of Us and Uncharted. These titles partly reflect Sony's vertical integration (for example, Sony's film studio owns the rights to Spider-Man), but also its broader strategy of obtaining rights that make "third-party" games exclusive to its console".
In other words, Sony have not just bought studios to develop games solely for their own platform, but they have also bought the rights to the likes of Spiderman, which essentially means only Sony can make a Spiderman game. And of course, they have also locked down content from independent companies such as Final Fantasy 7, preventing that from reaching its rival console.
What Sony fear is (essentially) parity between between the PlayStation and the Xbox. PlayStation has thrived as a consequence of being the bigger player in the business. Now, with the resurgence of Xbox, the success of Game Pass and the potential of this AB acquisition, they see a real threat to their dominance. Bear in mind that in terms of gaming revenue alone, Sony had been well ahead of Xbox for many years. This market position is now under threat, and this is the reason they are trying to block this deal.
The laughable thing is that whilst everyone is staring at Xbox and its recent acquisitions, and panicking over what this could mean for the future of gaming, they have taken their gaze away from Tencent, wherein only today it has been revealed that they have made an aggressive bid for 18% of the shares held my the majority owners of Ubisoft. Tencent bought 5% a few years back, and have also been buying up shares from smaller investors in recent times, and are likely to hold well in excess of their original 5% as of right now. The offer they made was for $101 a share. At the time they made it, the shares were trading for $45, so there is a possibility that many will sell, maybe even the majority shareholders.
Tencent are already the biggest gaming company, and they bought 31 companies last year, and are intending to exceed that by 300% this year. Tencent (as an entity) make Xbox and the AB acquisition look like chump change...
@NEStalgia I gotta disagree…Nintendo games always sell the hardware first in my opinion. If it was simply down to a thirst for handhelds the 3DS wouldn’t have sold so much more than the vita. And the vita 2 would have come to market by now.
I think the wiiU had a specific problem for the wiiU - it was marketed so badly that people still today think it’s an add-on for the wii …rather than a full standalone console. The units it actually did sell were more than likely off the back of the exclusive Nintendo games it had…rather than for the hardware capabilities itself.
Nintendo haven’t cared about competing in terms of power since the GameCube. In fact throughout most generations it’s rarely been the ‘most powerful’ console that has sold the best.
@GunValkyrian They haven't yet, though they still pay enough to keep games off of Xbox and PC for years...if not indefinitely.
@Bleachedsmiles That's always the belief, and it's been an accepted narrative, and it was Yamauchi's view in the 80's/90's that everything was planned around.
To a degree I think the fans (and probably the industry) have learned a wrong lesson, or at least an incomplete lesson based on a bias that started with Yamauchi's perhaps correct at the time outlook and the subsequent data has been slotted and fits well enough to look like "exclusives sell hardware."
But I think the information can be rearranged in different ways to show different trends. 3DS outsold Vita. One assumption is the exclusive games sold it while Vita had less desired exclusives. But also, Vita cost substantially more, never had a clear market, was LESS portable, and was not a successor to the greatest selling console of all time, but a successor to a meandering one that mostly only sold in one country and never had the marketing it needed to overcome the market leader - incumbency counts for a lot, and 3DS succeeded the only console to rival the PS2, the DS. Although, Japan is a wildcard, because in Japan exclusives do sell hardware moreso than in the west, key titles like MH being exclusive mattered, but, then, that would be like in the west making CoD and FIFA console exclusive. Games that are bigger than the console war and are platforms of their own being platform exclusive DOES swing things, but we don't really have that so much in the West now.
OTOH, WiiU succeeded the 3rd most successful console, Wii, had exclusives that on more desired hardware sold great, but on WiiU didn't sell at all. Yes, the hardware had confused marketing, but it doesn't matter. If the exclusives sold hardware people would have bought it, even if it were a Wii accessory. The reality is the exclusives did not sell the hardware. Regardless of why WiiU didn't sell, the exclusives couldn't sell it. The myth is broken. It becomes "exclusives sell hardware if people really wanted the hardware anyway."
Switch shot off like a rocket day 1, based largely on a single game, that was also on the WiiU. The difference? The hardware. Desirable hardware at a desirable price is essential, regardless of the exclusives.
It only becomes anticompetitive if they make COD exclusive, which I don’t think they will. If they don’t, it’s a fairly logical business transaction that gives Xbox a foothold in a few areas of Gaming where they don’t currently have one.
Now for XB v PS, games matter somewhat, and regardless of dev differences, for consumers, PS5/XSX are the exact same box. The exclusives offer differentiation, but even if you look at Sony game numbers, they still don't reach the majority of the install base. I think other factors. Hardware/platform/non-cross-play reasons inform purchasing decisions there more than even the exclusives. Like DS to 3DS there's a lot of incumbency involved. If XB and PS were both new console mfrs this gen the competition would look different, but as-is, XB was non-existent last gen, both consoles have BC, anyone that owned a library on PS4 is going to be most likely to stick with PS5, which was most of the existing non-Nintendo console market going into the gen, and anyone that plays online with friends that have PS is going to be most likely to buy a PS, and most people's friends play on PS because XB was mostly absent last gen.
Even if Sony cancelled all their exclusives, I don't think the install split would look substantially different. All they need to do is RETAIN themselves as the default, incumbent position. MS has to actively convince people that may have an existing PS4 library to switch and abandon their library/friends online. That's an uphill battle. In that sense exclusives matter more for them than Sony maybe. But also, their services matter more. They can't convince the avid CoD Player to want to play Starfield and switch from PS to XB for that. But they can try to convince them that Xbox is the better/cheaper place to play CoD.
Great post on every level. I’d much rather have the existing three platform holders hoovering up gaming companies than Ten Cent getting a major foothold.
@NEStalgia This assumes those that did buy the WiiU bought it for what reason if not Nintendo games? To play third party on it?
Just because the wiiU didn’t sell well doesn’t mean that it didn’t sell off the back of Nintendo games being on it.
Are you suggesting that the wiiU numbers would have been the same if those Nintendo games were also on Xbox and PlayStation?
The switch has also been a largely adopted secondary console. It has the distinction of being a handheld too…but without the Nintendo games would it really have sold as well? Are the best selling games on it 3rd party ports that are also on the other consoles? Outside of indies do multi platform games ever sell better on the switch than they do on the other platforms?
I don’t believe so. Generally there’s always a Nintendo game in the top ten.
Features of course help console sales. But they’ve never pushed hardware sells the way the games do. There’s been so many consoles over the decades with more features, more power etc than what was currently on the market, that haven’t had the games and failed because of it.
Exclusives are more important now than ever. Exclusives are hugely invested in and used to sell every subscription service currently fighting for your money - prime has its own exclusives, Netflix has its own exclusives. Apple, now tv, paramount, Hulu…etc why? They all offer different features…prime offers the ability to get fast free shipping - that’s quite a selling point. They’re still investing billions in exclusive content.
Gaming will be no different. Starfield is exclusive for a reason…that reason is gamepass.
The day gamepass goes on PlayStation, and PlayStation doesn’t have its first party on Xbox… I know I’ll personally sell my Xbox series x…even though I love the features it offers over the ps5 I don’t value those features to be worth £450
Likewise, I don’t value the ps5s features alone to be worth £450…I invested in a ps5 for the promise of the first party games. I’m sure I’m not alone in that?
A purely factual statetement without the bias of fanperson emotions... but it's making some great noises in the sony echo chamber
@Bleachedsmiles I think that gets into hair splitting. "exclusives sell consoles" doesn't mean "some people buy a console because of exclusives", it means "consoles are propelled to success because of the exclusive games". WiiU was not a success. Some people bought a WiiU because of exclusives. Some bought it because they liked Off-TV play. Some bought it because they thought it was a Wii upgrade. But not many people bought it at all, regardless of excluisves that otherwise are major draws.
Bottom line, having desirable exclusives does not necessarily mean people flock to buy the hardware. WiiU demonstrates that with aplomb. There's really no way around that. Similarly. launch PS4 had literally no worthwhile exclusives of any sort for over a year. Yet people gobbled it up partly because the platform itself was simply more desirable than the competition's. Even when it was the successor to a failure. The very same games that did not move WiiUs sold plenty on different hardware that people otherwise bought.
"Fans" put far too much focus on "exclusives" as the crux of the platform. They may add incentive, they may add value to the platform, but the "exclusives sells consoles" mantra is just flat wrong, and a holdout from the 90's when 50 games was a full library. We have a enough examples running contrary to it in both directions to be able to move on from that view, I'd think. They aren't necessarily irrelevant to the appeal of a platform, but they're not the sole, or even necessarily the most significant factor in the success of the platform.
RE Switch vs WiiU the other factor here is that Nintendo handhelds have never failed to sell well. Nintendo consoles have been in steady decline since 1992 with the exception of the outlier Wii, and now Switch. Demand for Nintendo's exclusives may be high, but, largely, demand for Nintendos exclusives on a handheld are high. WiiU was doomed in part simply because it was not 3DS.
At a minimum BOTH the games AND the hardware must be equally desirable. Or using Furukawa's phrasing "software-coupled hardware."
And I'm not sure the TV example works well. I know the games executives think it's the same as TV, but it really isn't. You choose a TV subscription because it has a show you want to watch. Then you cancel and switch to another one when that has a show you want to watch. It's all built on churn and pay-as-used. A console is a more committed purchase with closed engagement. If we get to the point we're just comparing Game Pass vs Plus and you drop Game Pass for 3 months to play Ragnarok on Plus, then go back to Game Pass for Avowed, all on your existing smart TV, I think it's a pretty different conversation than talking about which $350-500 box you're going to commit to purchasing $70 titles on. And at that point, "exclusives sell consoles" really doesn't matter because each platform is a $15 a month throw-away as needed like Neflix and then it becomes about churn rather than install bases and adoption rates.
Whether we buy more than one console to get access to exclusives or not isn't really meaningful. We're not most of the market who does not buy two almost identical consoles. Some may choose because they want Rangarok or FF or Starfield. But I don't think for MOST of the market that's mostly playing FIFA and GTA, that's really the prime factor.
@NEStalgia I don’t really understand what argument you’re trying to make? See you can focus on the wiiU all you like as being a failure…I still find it hard to believe that exclusive games did sell more units of that console than having a second screen did. Plenty bought a switch for Zelda. Plenty bought a switch for Animal crossing.
Plenty bought a switch for mario kart.
I find it hard to believe the fact that the switch is a handheld sold more units than Nintendo games did.
I bought an NES for mario bros
I bought a mega drive for sonic
I bought an N64 for mario 64
It was golden eye that convinced my mate to get one.
GTA 3 lead me to get a ps2
Dead or Alive 4 an Xbox
Gears of war an Xbox 360
Infamous a ps4
Quantum break an Xbox one
Gamepass and the promise of 1st party exclusives an Xbox series x
And the promise of Sonys future first party support a ps5.
The games may change but I personally don’t know anyone who’s ever bought a console without a game in mind they want to play on it. And I don’t know anyone who’s not had exclusives sway them to initially choose one over another.
I think you may have taken things too literally and think I’ve looked into the mind of everyone on the planet and out right claim that every single one of them bought consoles throughout their lives because of the exclusive games on them. I’m not suggesting this. But I find it hard to believe exclusives haven’t sold more units of hardware throughout every generation than simply the hardware itself.
Consoles are generally a committed investment. That try and get you locked into their eco system. It could be argued that exclusives are less important once there… if you’re spending hundreds and invested that time you’re more likely to stay with them.
Subscription services are indeed asking for your investment on a monthly bases…so content becomes key. And exclusives become even more important because they want you staying subscribed beyond that first/second/third month…they want to keep you not have you drop in and out. And the best way to keep you is by offering what the other subscription services do not.
The barrier of entry for gamepass isn’t a £450 console. That’s the point.
As for fifa or cod…the day that’s exclusive to a subscription platform is the day you’ll see subs rise on the platform it’s on. Cod hits gamepass day 1 you’re crazy if you think that’s not going to bring the numbers of subs up…why do you think they invested so much for it? Long as the only subscription service cod is on is gamepass they really don’t care you can play it on Xbox or PlayStation. This doesn’t make it being exclusive to gamepass any less meaningful… not when it saves you £70.
@electrolite77 Completely agree my friend, if COD is removed from the equation I cant see there is a valid issue either.
Totally agree. Exclusives are only a small part of the equation when it comes to selling Games systems. Third-party support, services, Online gaming and the hardware all play at least as big a part.
Exclusives are very significant for Nintendo because they never carry the same third party support as MS/Sony and have no interest in getting their Online and subscription services to parity.
Sonys exclusives have become a big deal on Gaming forums. They mean a lot to Sony fans, and the corporation itself likes to use them as part of their marketing as they attempt to apply a sheen of prestige to the PlayStation brand.
I think they become significant later in a generation when the mass market might be looking to buy a system to compliment their first choice. It’s a circular thing as most systems that last 4 years have a worthwhile range of exclusives even if they’re slow in coming at the start of a generation. Yet as we see this generation, PS5 and XSX are flying off the shelves despite having very few genuine exclusives. That’s because they get everything else right.
@Bleachedsmiles I think the scope of the conversation is meandering and bloating a little into too many factors to corral. The main point is simply that the "exclusives sell consoles" commonly taken to mean "it's the exclusive games that make a console a sales success" is demonstrably inaccurate.
While exclusives are a selling point for Switch, Switch did not becomes a sales success because of those exclusives, many of which are the same exclusives that did not make WiiU a success at the same or lower hardware price point. The exclusives certainly contributed to Switch's success, but when the majority of exclusives during the period (pre ACNH) switch was building up to success were re-releases of exclusives that did not prevent WiiU from being a failure, we have our first real-world example of the exclusives not resulting in a successful console. The hardware itself made Switch a success. From the first concept video with "Nintendo Karen" and the Imagine Dragons Superbowl commercial people were getting excited for the hardware without even having a clear exclusives list other than BotW (A WiiU game), and stray shots of Mario Odyssey before it was even a known game. People wanted to play games on that hardware. People did not want to play games on the WiiU hardware. Even when we're talking about the exact same games. Did specific games influence the date of purchase for most customers? Sure. But we know now that even while MK is a massive seller, most people won't just buy any hardware to go play it if they don't like the hardware. If they like the hardware, they're going to buy it when MK comes out on it.
@electrolite77 Heck, in the case of PS5/XSX very few games exist that even REQUIRE the new hardware to play. Yet the consoles sell like crazy. But the hardware improves the games mostly across the board. Such is console's merge with PC. Buying a console is less about playing a specific game and more about upgrading your GPU.
"Exclusives sell hardware" I think was true in the 8, 16, even 32 bit eras. But that was a long time ago, and the way software existed on consoles was very different back then. Largely they all couldn't interchangeably run similar software, so it was largely an entirely exclusive library with limited overlap, not a handful of exclusive games. An SNES and Genesis/Megadrive only had a small portion of it's library overlap, most was unique to each, so the "library sells the console" mattered and the type of game experience endemic to the library mattered a lot. A Genesis And few-to-no RPGs. An SNES had few-to-no arcade style games and a dearth of sports games. Gaming taste informed what console you buy. Same for PS1 vs N64 vs Saturn, totally different libraries and genres between each for the most part. I don't think the myths of what sells what have wholly decoupled from the 80's/90's tech realities, even among some executives.
@NEStalgia The way I see it… the wiiU wasn’t a success not due to the games, and their being no demand for them…but due to the hardware, and the way it was marketed. The fact that they rereleased so many wiiU games on the switch…shows there was demand for the games.
If anything I’d suggest Nintendo exclusives sell well despite of the hardware…not because of it. The switch had weak hardware. Limited performance. And well documented faulty joycons.
Again, nobody is buying the switch for the few AAA multi platform games on it - Witcher 3 on switch never sold as well as it did on ps4. yet there’s how many millions more switch consoles sold over ps4s and Xbox’s?
This tells me the fact that the switch is also handheld isn’t enough of an attraction to play these AAA multiplat games on it.
Instead it’s Nintendo games that always sell the best. This should tell us what the main thing is people are using the switch for…and show the importance exclusives have been to Nintendo. People aren’t buying the switch to not play Nintendo games on it.
I think you also underestimate the appeal of Nintendo ip. I mean, they’ve literally built a mario theme park. Merchandise is everywhere.
The switch is the biggest selling console of last gen. Is still selling more than this gens consoles today. The most popular game in the world is still Fortnite right? Do you think fortnite is being played more today on switch than on ps4?
Tbh, the focus on ‘well exclusives didn’t sell wiiU so there for exclusives no longer sell consoles’ makes such little sense when you’re too eager to ignore nintendos failing to get the wiiU recognised in the market as a stand alone console…and that you have no idea how many wiiUs sold because off the back of Nintendo exclusives being on it…compared to how many because of its hardware alone…that I’ve honestly no idea what point you’re trying to make with it?
‘Exclusives sell hardware’ is not only still relevant now but also crosses over more so to ‘exclusives sell subscriptions’ - as the concept of ‘gaming platforms’ change.
But ‘exclusives sell hardware’ doesn’t translate to ‘multi platform 3rd party games worthless’. Cod fifa Fortnite etc are going to sell hardware. But aren’t going to have you choose one platform over the other…unless that platform offers something the other doesn’t.
Sony the other day tried to stop the activision deal going through. Why? They already know they’re likely still going to be getting call of duty. What they will
Lose though is the marketing for it…and everything that has come with that marketing deal…not only the advertising perception that cod is exclusive, but the actual exclusive extras cod has on PlayStation. Getting maps early. Getting game modes exclusive for a year etc…it all sways casual gamers to opt to play cod on PlayStation over Xbox.
Same with Fortnite..what’s gamepass currently doing to try and get Fortnite players invested in gamepass? Exclusive perks. Same with league of legends…exclusive perks to gamepass of an already hugely popular game.
Exclusives are so important…even if the concept of exclusives changes… from out and out exclusives, to timed exclusivity, to exclusive additional extras like skins and perks. Exclusivity keeps getting invested in because it brings in customers. This seems pretty obvious to me.
@UltimateOtaku91 MS is stating that there is nothing special about the series CoD itself. People could just play another game, as there are several viable options. That is what is in question, not Sony being able to make money off of Call Of Duty on their platform. It's not like making Madden exclusive while EA solely holds the rights to the NFL license.
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