Restaurant Wars

I write this a mere three hours after Microsoft's big Xbox press conference. It represents my collected thoughts at the time, not a Nostradamus-esque foretelling of exactly how it's going to be. Everyone else is busy talking about specs, games, rawkin' graphix, connectivity, online issues … fine little details that will change a hundred times before any actual launch. I'd rather take a few steps back and see where Microsoft has decided to steer the ship.

I had two thoughts Tuesday while watching the Xbox One reveal. The first thought was that Microsoft and the rest of these console companies really need a fashion consultant to properly dress them before they go out on stage. Seriously, Donny baby, call me! I'll even do it pro bono. No longer will you have to face the shame of your jacket flapping in the breeze as you walk across the stage, or sharing the stage with a Doctor Who underling who paired a suit with Chuck Taylors.

The second and more relevant thought I had while watching the press conference was that Microsoft has chosen to pursue a very specific core demographic with this launch. I am not in it.

And that's okay.

Console gaming has traditionally been like eating a family-style meal: Everyone sits at the same table, eating from the same dishes. Sure, there may be some variety —  Platform Beans definitely taste different than Country-Fried RPG — but ultimately, it's the same people sitting down to the same meal. We could argue about why this has been the case: technical limitations, a relatively small pool of gamers, teeny tiny marketing budgets. But this is clearly no longer the case. New restaurants open up every day, promising new cuisines. Not just cuisines, but entirely new styles of eating. Imbibe by touch screen! Waggle your waiter! Share an asynchronous meal with someone halfway 'round the world!

New restaurants naturally bring in new diners. Those who found the family-style Grandma's Kountry Cookin' unappetizing find ever more options to entice them to the table. As the pool of diners expands in both size and demographic makeup, it allows increasingly specialized restaurants to break into the market and remain financially viable. Who would have thought ten years ago that AngryBucks would be on every street corner in America?

To finally break this tortured analogy, the game is changing. The combination of growth, demographic shift, and technological innovations allow for more profitable specialization that diverges from the main Console Borg. The Wii U doubles down on the Wii's insistence of carving its own niche and converting Octogenarians and families at the expense of "core gamers." The Xbox One, judging by Tuesday's reveal, pushes that divergence even further.

The first niche of gamers Microsoft excluded in the unveiling was, well, everyone outside of America. Perhaps turning the console into a honest-to-goodness cable box appeals to some people, but functionally it's not going to be very applicable across the board — even more so when you add on things like fantasy league integration (depending on which specific sports they target). Considering the 360's truly abysmal sales in the Eastern Hemisphere, this is not a surprising move — but it is still one that targets a much tighter demographic than a standard "game console" would do.

The second section that they eschewed in the conference was the, uh, "non-dudebro" demographic. Unlike some here on the writer staff who shall remain nameless, [Ed. note: He means Sean Sands.] I don't typically participate in things like Corona keg stands. I'm not passing judgement on those who do, [Ed. note: Yes, he is.] but highlighting nothing but major EA Sports titles and the new Call of Duty — to say nothing of a Halo TV series — clearly targets a very particular person.

And that's okay.

I get why Microsoft is drilling down this far. My day job is as a marketer and product manager, so I understand the important concept of accurately identifying and promoting to your core consumer. Microsoft will likely sell fewer consoles with this tactic, but they will also decrease what it costs them to market it. I don't begrudge them their decision. I may feel a twinge of pathos as I bid a fond adieu to my beloved console, but I can't deny it's simply where the market is headed. It's not like they haven't telegraphed this decision, with Halo-branded Mountain Dew and Doritos, or pictures of people playing Halo while eating Mountain Dew-flavored Doritos and drinking Dorito-flavored Mountain Dew.

I'm sure that the Xbox One will have other game types on it. The built-in upgraded Kinect — an announcement that my Dance Central-loving brain cheered — poises the console to break new ground just as the Wii U did. However, the complete and utter lack of Kinect integration into any of the actual games shown was disturbing. Will such games exist? I'm sure they will eventually, but it would be nice to see the Kinect thrive as more than a glorified remote control. I almost wish that it was on a different console, as I think the XBro One!!1!1 and the Kinect don't have much in common.

I guess there's always the PS4. Or Ouya. Or … who knows? The market is growing.

Yes, still growing. It's true that video game revenue has cooled from its meteoric rise a bit, but it's still increasing at a healthy clip. This growth creates more room for growing market segmentation. One person compared it to a muscle, which in order to grow stretches and creates fissures in the tissue itself, which are later filled in by newly-created cells. In order for growth to continue, it's not unreasonable to expect a more segmented console space.

And that's, well, I guess it's okay.

At some point we may feel that our favorite hobby has left us behind, abandoned us by the roadside while they chase people with more money or more highly prized by advertisers. We could become a "gap generation," if you will. But, as with muscles, those gaps will fill in eventually. Personally, I'm not worried about being left behind, even though I too sometimes feel the sting of a single tear as I wave forlornly at the Doritos Bus passing me on the street.

We will all get picked back up by someone, at some time. I don't know what that will look like. It could be a console specifically engineered to enjoy point-and-click adventure games in the most ergonomic way possible; it could be a premium service that selectively culls and cultivates games with the most thoughtful, engaging narratives; it could be whatever the PS4 winds up being. At this point it's impossible to tell.

And that's okay.

Comments

I kind of feel like we should be done with first-party exclusives.

I mean, would it really matter as much if we knew all the same games would be releasing on all the same devices? The last time anyone gave a damn about what brand DVD player they would purchase was the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray Kaiju Battle of the Formats, and that was partially fueled by us gamers anyway. But no one ever has to worry about "Will it play my favorite Warner Bros. films?"

When it comes to the XOne and PS4, I feel like I should be able to purchase a device based on its features. But the reality is, I may have to sacrifice a franchise I want to play. For example, the new Remedy Game, Quantum Break I believe it is called. I'd like to play that. But the XOne as a device just doesn't seem to be for me.

Then again, at this stage, neither does the PS4.

And I want it to be okay that neither of these are for me, or at least not at the moment. Blu-Ray wasn't for me immediately, either. Not until my family got a decently priced Blu-Ray player.

If game consoles are trying to be more like your general, all-purpose media device, then they need to stop competing like it's still the days of Genesis vs. Super Nintendo.

Minarchist wrote:
The first niche of gamers Microsoft excluded in the unveiling was, well, everyone outside of America. Perhaps turning the console into a honest-to-goodness cable box appeals to some people, but functionally it's not going to be very applicable across the board — even more so when you add on things like fantasy league integration.

This. Twenty pages of blabber in the Xbox One thread, and not a word on this. All hail the Minarchist!

Of all the new features Microsoft chooses to stress, not one is available in Europe. Not only do we not have access to Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and so on (or maybe the UK and Ireland do?), I wonder if the Xbox One will work with local set top boxes.

Also: will there be voice control localization? Since it took them 7 years to translate the dashboard text menu's to Dutch, since even now it's not 100% correct, since movies are offered in Dutch Dutch and not Belgian Dutch (we loathe that), I have my doubts.

Microsoft is happy to leave the non-US markets to Sony apparently.

I think you've confused "excluded" with "not addressed." My guess is that their reason goes something like this: the dudebros drive the initial purchases while the non-dudebros work their way through The Pile or replay some BioAtlus game for the fifteenth time and wonder if they can hold out until a price drop or a die shrink. The dudebros are the early adopters, so they get the early focus of the messaging. I think it's as simple as that.

Between this article, Leigh Alexander's op-ed at Gamasutra, and the Penny-Arcade blog posts yesterday I'm glad to know I'm not alone in feeling very alienated by that event. I am not expecting their E3 presentation to change my mind either. Large companies don't change course that fast and they're well along on whatever roadmap they planned out back in 2009-2010. There is absolutely no going back now.

I was never an XBox user to begin with, but if this is the way the winds of the industry are blowing, well... you'll take my games from my cold, dead hands. And by that I mean, I'll get my fix elsewhere. I've got a decent PC and a Wii U. I can subsist in my old-school bunker on Mario Ready to Eat and Steamed Indie for a few years while the meltdown happens outside.

Besides, there's always board games.

CheezePavilion wrote:
I think you've confused "excluded" with "not addressed." My guess is that their reason goes something like this: the dudebros drive the initial purchases while the non-dudebros work their way through The Pile or replay some BioAtlus game for the fifteenth time and wonder if they can hold out until a price drop or a die shrink. The dudebros are the early adopters, so they get the early focus of the messaging. I think it's as simple as that.

I completely agree.

I'm constantly being surprised at this reaction almost everywhere on the internet that the XBone has forsaken gaming. MS said that the E3 presentation was going to be about games while this one was going to be about the console's other Special Purposes. ...And so far they've kept their word.

The console is going to play games. Lots of games. Lots of non-dudebro games.

We've all known for years that MS and Sony want their consoles to become entertainment hubs. Why is everyone acting like this was some horrible "switcheroo" that they've played on gamers?

lostlobster wrote:
We've all known for years that MS and Sony want their consoles to become entertainment hubs. Why is everyone acting like this was some horrible "switcheroo" that they've played on gamers?

I think it's because regardless of the additional stuff we as gamers want to feel like we are still the focus of the system. The MS press conference made the media extensions the focus. It would be like presenting the PS2 as a DVD player that can play games - Xbox One came off to a lot of people as a cable box that can play game.

It's likely that MS will market towards gamers too, at some point, but the initial impression shifted the focus towards other things.

I think right now, the thing filling in that gap you describe is the PC. Tons of great indie titles, and PC ports of core games if you really want them. Plus it's an open platform, which is why the indie renaissance is happening there, and you can mess around with great mods.

As of right now, I'm telling any "core gamers" I know to skip the next console generation and invest in a gaming PC instead.

Minarchist wrote:
Platform Beans definitely taste different than Country-Fried RPG

Where do re-fried beans fit into this equation?

dejanzie wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
The first niche of gamers Microsoft excluded in the unveiling was, well, everyone outside of America.

This. Twenty pages of blabber in the Xbox One thread, and not a word on this. All hail the Minarchist!

Of all the new features Microsoft chooses to stress, not one is available in Europe. Not only do we not have access to Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and so on (or maybe the UK and Ireland do?), I wonder if the Xbox One will work with local set top boxes.

It was discussed in our thread. XBO cedes ground to PS4 for anyone who plays outside the US: folks from and living in other countries (especially those with little to no internet), as well as folks like me who our government sometimes sends to other countries periodically.

Huh. The Dudebro, "Guns and Balls" segment of the market is what Xbox has traditionally always gone for. They deviated outside that a little bit for the 360 because they were trying to move into Japan. That failed miserably, so they're back to "Guns and Balls" again. The only other deviation is Kinect, and that's now mandatory. To me, GnB and Mandatory Kinect are kind of polar opposites. Makes me wonder what they're trying to do there. Maybe they'll show their other half, the Kinect games, at E3.

For me, the focus on TV is pointless as I have no TV service. The focus on GnB is pointless as I'm mostly an RPGer. And the focus on Kinect is pointless as I dislike all motion and voice controls on computers. I'm sticking to the PS4, Vita, and 3DS, as those systems will probably get all the genres that I enjoy playing.

I'm with everyone else in the thread - I'm a non-dudebro gamer, and an Xbox'er to boot, and if I didn't feel alienated, I certainly felt like I wasn't even considered with this reveal.

But then i start thinking about what I would have wanted to see in this reveal. Two major things pop to mind: "show me the games", and "show me the things that could make future games better".

So maybe the E3 announcement in a few weeks will be better targeted at me? Time will tell.

lostlobster wrote:
The console is going to play games. Lots of games. Lots of non-dudebro games.

We've all known for years that MS and Sony want their consoles to become entertainment hubs. Why is everyone acting like this was some horrible "switcheroo" that they've played on gamers?

QFMFT. The Xbone is going to play games. That's a given. What's to tout, short of showcasing some big titles—which they will at E3. So let them show off all the other stuff the console does, for whatever that's worth. I still know it will have Thief, Forza, Assassin's Creed and so on and so forth ad infinitum/nauseum (delete as appropriate).

DorkmasterFlek wrote:
I think right now, the thing filling in that gap you describe is the PC. Tons of great indie titles, and PC ports of core games if you really want them. Plus it's an open platform, which is why the indie renaissance is happening there, and you can mess around with great mods.

QFadditionalT. If I've one open question, it's how the Xbone will treat independents (not promising so far)—but then there's always the PC, cost notwithstanding.

So in conclusion: it's a games console. It will play games. And do a bunch of other stuff that may or may not be interesting/flash-in-the-pan. I have so far no reason to suspect next generation will be paradigmatically different from this one, except probably a lot more digital-delivered.

McIrishJihad wrote:
So maybe the E3 announcement in a few weeks will be better targeted at me? Time will tell.

Based on their past 3 E3 presentations, I think that depends on how much you like Kinect, EA Sports, etc.

Keithustus wrote:
dejanzie wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
The first niche of gamers Microsoft excluded in the unveiling was, well, everyone outside of America.

This. Twenty pages of blabber in the Xbox One thread, and not a word on this. All hail the Minarchist!

Of all the new features Microsoft chooses to stress, not one is available in Europe. Not only do we not have access to Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and so on (or maybe the UK and Ireland do?), I wonder if the Xbox One will work with local set top boxes.

It was discussed in our thread. XBO cedes ground to PS4 for anyone who plays outside the US: folks from and living in other countries (especially those with little to no internet), as well as folks like me who our government sometimes sends to other countries periodically.

I missed that, my apologies.

CheezePavilion wrote:
I think you've confused "excluded" with "not addressed."

While I would say this has largely been their tact in the past, there was something about this conference that pushed it way beyond that, to me.

the dudebros drive the initial purchases …

Do they? I have not seen evidence to support that. The stereotypical dudebro buys what, 4 games a year? CoD, Madden, and maybe FIFA or Halo or Assassin's Creed — and then plays those games to death. Whereas other gamers that sample a far greater variety of games buy a tremendous amount of software. Is it the dudebros driving multi-million unit sales of games like Bioshock Infinite or Bastion? Buying 40-50 games for the system like many of us here at GWJ are? Is the line on release day 90% dudebros? (I never want to write the term "dudebros" again after this article.)

Gravey wrote:
[The Xbone is going to play games. That's a given. What's to tout, short of showcasing some big titles—which they will at E3. So let them show off all the other stuff the console does, for whatever that's worth. I still know it will have Thief, Forza, Assassin's Creed and so on and so forth ad infinitum/nauseum (delete as appropriate).

Of course it will play games, but will it play the games you want it to? Due to sales on the 360, it's practically guaranteed that we will see no JRPGs for the console. Despite the Kinect being a potentially awesome interface for it, we won't see any traditional adventure games. It's not just automatic that everything gets released everywhere just because it exists; if the financials don't make sense because the XBone only courts specific genres or gamers, other games won't exist on that system.

Hopefully I made it clear in the article that I'm okay with that. (Right? Right?) But I think it's folly to pretend that everything will just stay the same with each passing console generation. Let's not stick our heads in the sand here.

One of the things that kills me the most with this is how they showcased nothing of the Kinect aside from somewhat disturbing OS commands. If you're going to go to the expense of putting a device such as Kinect inside every console, wouldn't you want to show that off at your hardware unveiling, of all places? It'd be like the Wii U showcase not having anything to do with the small-screen or motion controls.

You may think that "well, the Kinect is there, of course people will design games for it", but if it's not marketed as such, people simply won't buy it in sufficient numbers to perpetuate further game development.

As a total aside, does anyone else hate the two-tone gloss/matte aesthetic? I hate it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I really hope they change that before launch.

"It's like two Wiis stuck together!"

Minarchist wrote:
One of the things that kills me the most with this is how they showcased nothing of the Kinect aside from somewhat disturbing OS commands. If you're going to go to the expense of putting a device such as Kinect inside every console, wouldn't you want to show that off at your hardware unveiling, of all places? It'd be like the Wii U showcase not having anything to do with the small-screen or motion controls.

Guess what's going to get a lot of stage time at E3? Also, I will be very surprised if Kinect titles aren't a majority of "exclusives" and "new IP" they hinted at.

I cannot be the only one that would relish a world in which all the consoles were uniquely different. Consoles have one and only one (ok, maybe two) advantage when compared to PC: What's in the box (and price). I go on about this too much, probably, but I feel it's a point that needs reiterating. What's in the box matters!

PCs are by far the most open platform available. There are a multitude of peripherals available for PC over the generations because there's a very low barrier of entry to make a new peripheral for a PC. There are controllers specifically catered to control boats, planes, trains, automobiles, even RC remote control cars. Hell, there are different type of plane wheels depending on the type of plane. There are individual displays, motion controls, controllers you can squeeze, controllers with 'floating' controls for 360 degrees of movement, it goes on and on. So what's the problem? The problem is that very few games take advantage of unique controllers because they're niche by design! Why spend resources implementing controls for a peripheral only a small percentage of the audience owns?

Consoles have the advantage of including stuff right in the box to distinguish themselves by a further degree than the specs of the machine itself. Nintendo 64 and later Dreamcast and Xbox had far more four player games than Saturn, PS1, or PS2 because the four controller ports came with the system, right in the box. Nintendo 64 had far greater ratio of games that utilized analog control than PlayStation did because the analog controller was in the box. Dreamcast and Xbox had more online games than did their competition because the modem came with the system. It was in the box! PS1 had an analog controller, PS2 and Gamecube had a modem, plenty of systems had multiplayer adapters, but none of them were used broadly by developers because they didn't come with the system. They didn't come in the box.

It matters with multiplatform games too, because it's difficult to make a game work seamlessly on four different platform builds. When a game is developed solely for one platform, the developer knows exactly what CPU the players will have, exactly what GPU the players will have, exactly how much RAM, etc. It makes a difference.

If Microsoft wants to carve its own identity and tread its own path, I say good. If Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Valve, Ouya, and whomever else all decide to spread their wings and fly in disparate directions, I say great! Gaming needs more diversity, not less. I don't want to look to the future and see all the consoles fighting over the rights for Call of Duty 5: More Moderner Warfare 7. Give us your gimmicks and show us why I can only play your game on your system. Show us how you're different; not how you're a different shade of grey.

Condensed version: Different is good.

That's certainly possible, though I would think you'd want that at the hardware launch. Since it's, y'know, hardware.

I'll jump on and also say that I'm...well, I'm not surprised by the reaction people have had, but the XOne reveal was only startling in being everything I expected. It basically is an update of the 360. I feel like the 360 has just been a beta test for the new XOne.

That so many people might have expected something more is what confuses me.

Minarchist wrote:
Gravey wrote:
[The Xbone is going to play games. That's a given. What's to tout, short of showcasing some big titles—which they will at E3. So let them show off all the other stuff the console does, for whatever that's worth. I still know it will have Thief, Forza, Assassin's Creed and so on and so forth ad infinitum/nauseum (delete as appropriate).

Of course it will play games, but will it play the games you want it to? Due to sales on the 360, it's practically guaranteed that we will see no JRPGs for the console. Despite the Kinect being a potentially awesome interface for it, we won't see any traditional adventure games. It's not just automatic that everything gets released everywhere just because it exists; if the financials don't make sense because the XBone only courts specific genres or gamers, other games won't exist on that system.

Well of course. It will play a lot of the games I want it to, sure. But if you know no JRPGs will be coming to it, you also where they will be—PS4, Wii U, DS, Vita. Adventure games—PC. I know I won't be playing interactive fiction or indie personal games or experimental horror or Central European industrial simulators on it—not yet, anyway. I guess the unsaid part of my post is: we know it will play games, and based on the 360 we know what kinds of games, to begin with.

Maybe there'll be a sea change in a few years, but for now I don't find anything to be surprised about the Xbone, positively or negatively. But it's not the only game in town.

Minarchist wrote:
That's certainly possible, though I would think you'd want that at the hardware launch. Since it's, y'know, hardware. :)

Yeah, that's the confusing and annoying thing about that "reveal": it was sort of a reveal, but mostly a TV event, showing off just what's appealing to a TV crowd.

Gravey wrote:
I guess the unsaid part of my post is: we know it will play games, and based on the 360 we know what kinds of games, to begin with.

But that was my point. No stealing.

One thing I hoped to get across in the article but may not have is that I don't think this is a seismic shift. The increasing specialization is gradual. What I mean is that from appearances so far, the shrinking concentric circles has finally passed where I am standing. The question is, as in the muscle analogy, what is going to fill in the gap?

Minarchist wrote:
Gravey wrote:
I guess the unsaid part of my post is: we know it will play games, and based on the 360 we know what kinds of games, to begin with.

But that was my point. No stealing.

One thing I hoped to get across in the article but may not have is that I don't think this is a seismic shift. The increasing specialization is gradual. What I mean is that from appearances so far, the shrinking concentric circles has finally passed where I am standing. The question is, as in the muscle analogy, what is going to fill in the gap?

PC? The PC is always there for us. Or something from Sony/Nintendo if you want more Japanese games. I guess I don't understand what the cause for concern is: it's just the Xbox. There are other platforms.

Gravey wrote:
I guess the unsaid part of my post is: we know it will play games, and based on the 360 we know what kinds of games, to begin with.

I don't think we know what kind of games are going to feature prominently on X1. If the catalog looks like the first half of the 360's life, that's awesome. If it looks like the second half, then I'm feeling left out. The focus on TV and Kinect in the presentation makes me worry that the games will look like the last three years of the 360. CoD, Halo, and a lot casual Kinect garbage.

Minarchist wrote:
the dudebros drive the initial purchases …
The stereotypical dudebro buys what, 4 games a year? CoD, Madden, and maybe FIFA or Halo or Assassin's Creed — and then plays those games to death.

Not talking about software, talking about the hardware. You have to buy the whole console even if all you're going to play is Madden or CoD.

MrShoop wrote:
The focus on TV and Kinect in the presentation makes me worry that the games will look like the last three years of the 360. CoD, Halo, and a lot casual Kinect garbage.

I've read every post in the Xbox One thread, and this is one of the most looney-tunes statements I've heard—and that thread has its fair share of crazy.

Do you want to clarify that a little? Because I've been playing some pretty amazing games on 360 in the last three years, and none of them were CoD or Halo, and I don't own a Kinect. I can only guess you mean exclusives (though CoD isn't), but other than Nintendo, I think last generation (and the increasing feature parity between MS, Sony, and PC) has shown that exclusives are losing their power (and good riddance to exclusivity too).

I've gotta say, cable integration aside, I like the console-as-HTPC model. That said, Sony tends to have more appealing exclusives to me, so that's where I'll probably end up.

Gravey wrote:
I've read every post in the Xbox One thread, and this is one of the most looney-tunes statements I've heard—and that thread has its fair share of crazy.

Do you want to clarify that a little? Because I've been playing some pretty amazing games on 360 in the last three years, and none of them were CoD or Halo, and I don't own a Kinect. I can only guess you mean exclusives (though CoD isn't), but other than Nintendo, I think last generation (and the increasing feature parity between MS, Sony, and PC) has shown that exclusives are losing their power (and good riddance to exclusivity too).

As I posted in the Xbox reveal thread, look at 2007 MS published titles vs 2012 MS published titles. It is a clear there is a major shift to kinect driven casual titles. And it came at the cost of core games.

This is the list of video games published by Microsoft Studios in 2007:

Blue Dragon
Crackdown
Forza Motorsport 2
Fuzion Frenzy 2
Halo 3
Mass Effect
Project Gotham Racing 4
Project Sylpheed
Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action
Shadowrun
Viva Piñata: Party Animals

and in 2012:

Kinect Nat Geo TV
Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure
Kinect Sesame Street TV
Kinect Sports: Ultimate Collection
Kinect Star Wars
Nike+ Kinect Training
Dance Central 3
Fable: The Journey
Forza Horizon
Halo 4

Also, exclusives are even more important because Sony and MS have very similar hardware. I will be able to get GTA on either and it will look good on both. So exclusives are the most important differentiator to me.

MrShoop wrote:
As I posted in the Xbox reveal thread, look at 2007 MS published titles vs 2012 MS published titles. It is looney tunes to deny that there wasn't a major shift to kinect driven casual titles. And it came at the cost of core games.

This is the list of video games published by Microsoft Studios in 2007:

Blue Dragon
Crackdown
Forza Motorsport 2
Fuzion Frenzy 2
Halo 3
Mass Effect
Project Gotham Racing 4
Project Sylpheed
Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action
Shadowrun
Viva Piñata: Party Animals

Let's not kid ourselves, though. A number of those games were commercial failures. I can't find specific numbers on Blue Dragon other than barely managing the goal of 200,000 units sold in Japan. Did it even hit 1 million in America? Shadowrun didn't even beat 200,000 units on its won and was a REAL failure. Project Sylpheed certainly wasn't much of a success as I still have yet to meet anyone else that played it (which is a damn shame for everyone lamenting a lack of space-flight fighter games). If I recall, while initial sales of Viva Pinata were positive, it failed to become the multi-media franchise Microsoft was banking on.

A lot of those games failed to find a real audience, or at least one as profitable as, say, Halo 3. Even Crackdown only sold because it came with access to Halo 3's beta.

Not that I'm arguing in favor of Microsoft's software direction. Just providing an explanation on why you saw so many 1st party or exclusive efforts back then, and then they all fell off.

MrShoop wrote:
Also, exclusives are even more important because Sony and MS have very similar hardware. I will be able to get GTA on either and it will look good on both. So exclusives are the most important differentiator to me.

Ha, and I interpret that as a good thing: if the consoles become virtually indistinguishable in gaming-relevant hardware, then let them be identical in their catalogs. One thing I hate about this hobby is how certain games can be held hostage by a specific platform. I don't have $250 to spare so I'll never play Journey, that sort of thing. But I got to play Dishonored, Metro: Last Light, Xcom, Mark of the Ninja, etc.

Death to exclusives! Let Sony and MS wage the war for their consoles in terms of their other entertainment features. (And as in all things, I seem to give Nintendo a free pass here.)