Saturday, November 9, 2013

Microsoft's First-Party Attitude Represents My Larger Issue With the Company

Microsoft Studios head honcho Phil Spencer recently mentioned to OXM that a console manufacturer doesn't need its own studios to create excellent games. The issue I take with this statement extends further into Microsoft's philosophy with the Xbox. Instead of putting money into their own studios, they simply purchase exclusives, whether they be entire games, downloadable content, or advertising rights. I cannot tell you how many third-party multi-platform game commercials I've seen where at the end the Xbox 360 or Xbox One logo shows up.

The problem in this situation is that-- borrowing a term here-- "moneyhatting" exclusives is much more costly than having capable studios you own that make games for you. As the "boss" of the studio, you have a greater influence on the type of product they create. Then again, looking at Rare, perhaps that's a bad thing to be under the influence of Microsoft-- being forced to make nothing but Kinect Sports and avatar games, having all of your other projects never getting the greenlight.

The point here is that Microsoft is doing what they've done since day one of their entry into the video game home console business. They have been throwing money to further themselves into the industry, going so far as to lose boatloads of money just to get ahead of the competition. Who needs competent first-party studios when you can just buy exclusives? Why compete when you can simply buy market share through immense marketing campaigns and third-party exclusives?

Microsoft just doesn't feel like a company that is interested in gaming. It's just a means to an end to them. It's just a way to get extra dough. I know that's what companies want-- money-- but Microsoft isn't even coy about it like Nintendo and Sony are (the latter publishing and providing a myriad of new IPs this past gen), who seem to show outward passion for their first-party content, studios, and the industry at large. Conversely, Microsoft simply comes across as a company that kills studios in order to increase their market share.

Now, if the most recent moneyhat situation was reversed, and Titanfall was a PlayStation 4 exclusive, I'm sure there would be many folks who wouldn't be so upset. I'd be one of them because Sony doesn't just rely heavily on third-party exclusives through outright buying them like Microsoft does, so it wouldn't appear that Sony was overcompensating for their own lack of first-party talent.

I guess what I'm getting at, through all of this banter, is that I'd love to see Microsoft invest more to create homegrown talent. That's why I loved the Xbox 360 starting off, even though Microsoft was paying for exclusives left and right, especially Japanese exclusives. Because as of right now, Microsoft just seems like a crooked politician, buying its way into office, or in this case, as many homes across the globe as possible.

Do you agree or disagree with this opinion piece? If so or if not, leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Just remember to be respectful to each person you comment to!

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