With growing development costs, it is becoming harder and harder to remain exclusive to one console, unless of course it is first-party. That makes it all the more impactful when a big third-party title becomes exclusive to one or the other. While big names like Mass Effect and Final Fantasy have done some flip-flopping, the big three have all done a respectable job of bringing unique experiences to the table. But who has done it best? Here are our grades:
3. Microsoft: Notable exclusives: Gears of War, Alan Wake, Halo, Dance Central, Forza, Fable, Trials Evolution, Call of Duty DLC, Kinect
As great a console as the Xbox is, and despite the dominance of XBLA , Microsoft is lagging far behind on the exclusive front. Luckily, the ones they do have are some heavy hitters. Halo and Gears of War are obviously at the forefront of that, and with new installments of both in the works, those two franchises are looking as solid as ever. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the rest of the lineup.
I’m reasonably sure that Fable and Forza will have another installment eventually, perhaps next-gen, and it’s safe to say they’ll be solid. Dance Central is the reigning party game champion, and it’s hard to deny the charm of Kinect. Software support has been slow, but I think developers are just starting to truly understand how best to incorporate Kinect into their games. The incredible sound detection is an area that Kinect blows out of the water, and the more developers realize that that is a gold mine, the better off the innovative peripheral will be.
Alan Wake’s future doesn’t look quite as bright. Developer Remedy has promised more installments, but the digital-only follow up American Nightmare didn’t exactly set the charts on fire, although it was a solid game. As long as Call of Duty continues to sell like hot cakes (and it’s showing no signs of slowing), the timed DLC that Microsoft has on lock will continue to work in its favor, making one of the most lucrative third-party exclusive deals around.
2. Nintendo: Notable exclusives: : Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokémon, Super Smash Bros., Star Fox, Scribblenauts, Pikmin, Professor Layton, ZombieU, Kid Icarus, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Virtual Console
With heavy hitters like Mario and Zelda on your side, it almost makes the rest of your line-up obsolete. Nintendo has a lot of history on their side, and, in addition to those, any entry into the Pokemon or Smash Bros. franchises is sure to garner some heavy interest. Hell, even Star Fox would probable net a million pre-orders, and we haven’t seen any quality from him in awhile.
The WII U will hopefully revitalize the Pikmin franchise, and it’s hard to imagine Donkey Kong, Kirby, Scribblenauts and Professor Layton having anything less than a stellar continuation of the line. Metroid’s last entry, Other M, was terrible, but I have complete confidence Nintendo can salvage it.
The beauty of the Virtual console can’t be over stated. The awesome backlog of games it holds is awe-inspiring. I could spend all my time on it and be a completely happy camper. I’m genuinely excited about the Wii U, and what it could bring to the table. Hopefully it will spawn a successful IP or two of itself, starting a new Nintendo renaissance.
1. Sony: Notable exclusives: God of War, Twisted Metal, Infamous, Killzone, Retribution, All-Stars Battle Royale, Uncharted, Beyond: Two Souls, Last Guardian, The Last of Us, Sly, Disgaea, Journey, Gran Turismo, MLB: The Show
You really have to appreciate the brand support Sony throws its franchises. You can fault them for a lot of things, but Sony knows when they have talent, and they don’t hesitate to keep it and use it. First-party blockbusters like God of War and Gran Turismo aren’t going anywhere, the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls is my most anticipated game of the year. Of course, that’s only scratching the surface.
With PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony is cashing in on all the work they’ve put into their various franchises, and all that fan service looks to be a fun, if not particularly original, getaway. Top-notch third-party support continues to be Sony’s calling card, evidenced by Infamous, Journey, Uncharted and the brilliant-looking The Last of Us.
Gran Turismo, MLB: The Show and Disgaea continue to have dedicated hardcore fan bases, and I’m sure we’re in for a real treat whenever The Last Guardian gets released. Sly Cooper, Killzone and Resistance aren’t bad ways to round up your line-up either. It’s close, but Sony has to take the exclusive crown.