I'm sure a lot of you read DarkPower's "Does Microsoft's 'Stealing' Sony Franchises Hurt Their Own Credibility?" post and found it to be a good read. I certainly did, but that doesn't mean I agree with every argument the fellow had to dish out. Unlike DarkPower, I'm a self-admitted Sony fanboy through and through, the difference being, I consider myself a very level-headed one.
Like many fanboys, I'd hate to see old exclusive Sony IPs go exclusive to rival platforms, but will I say all these MS "heists" are hurting the Xbox 360's credibility? The short answer is no. A longer version of the response is OH HELL NO.
Here, then, is my point-by-point rebuttal of DarkPower's article:
- MS is not hurting its credibility by buying IPs. We've seen it do that same doozie with Windows software for years. Did anyone mind? Just sourgraping execs who can't take the heat of competition. MS will always get flamed for releasing buggy software and faulty hardware, but drumming up third-party support is a completely different thing.
- Did DarkPower miss on reading dev interviews where game makers openly state that it's easier to develop games for the Xbox 360 than the PS3? That's a good reason in itself for third-parties to come to MS without much persuasion. Just ask Gabe Newell.
- So what if Microsoft is paying off third-party developers? That's free trade for you right there. If you want to win, you have to compete. The burden is on Sony to respond by either matching offers or by presenting developers incentives in other forms.
- Third-party developers exist not for loyalty but for profit. These are major investments who are pressured to rake in the green. Development costs are on the rise and the bad economy isn't helping either, so they have to go multiplatform to boost sales in order to survive. Multiplatform releases are better than risking having devs run out of business and gamers being left with no games.
- The absence of a single, dominant platform where third-party games can make big revenues in a single release is forcing their hands to push the multiplatform button. Yes, there's the Wii these days but it's not a playing field which is as level as the original PS and the PS2. The Wii is dominated by first-party titles while the PS2 was perceived as a home for all niches.
- DarkPower has forgotten how the PlayStation 2 also benefitted from snagging exclusives from other platforms. Ever heard about a little thing called Resident Evil 4? How about the once-Xbox exclusive Splinter Cell franchise? Oh, and let's not get started about picking the bones of Sega IPs after the Dreamcast tanked. Did Sony lose credibility? History would say no, and a lot of gamers benefitted from this just as it will benefit Xbox 360 owners of today.
- Building a robust third-party library around an already solid first-party roster makes perfect business sense. I'm not sure why anyone would call this a sign of weakness on the part of MS rather than a sign of commitment to their user base. Heck, I don't even know where DarkPower is coming from by writing that MS "really didn't have anything this gen" considering you have the Halo, Gears of War, and Fable franchises to name a few.
- The statement "It (Microsoft)'s more inclined on beating Sony to a miserable pulp instead of just giving us good games to play and giving us a good system to play them on" is just weord. Sure, the Xbox got beat last generation, but I don't believe any sane business exec would let grudges drive a company's campaign when billions are at stake. This is business, not some schoolyard fight.
- DarkPower thinks that the commonality in third-party games will make people wonder what's unique with each system. That won't happen for too long even for the non techy crowd. Just wait for them to check the price tags and the difference becomes clear immediately. This is also where first-party games come in to make the decision easier for buyers.
- "Gamers are not stupid and they will catch on (to what Microsoft is doing)" writes DarkPower. Sure they will, but will that affect their choices in which system to buy? I don't think so. Not when MS has a bigger library, a significantly lower price point, and has the same quality of software as the PS3. As loyal as some are to Sony, the Xbox 360 will be very hard to resist because it brings in a lot of goodies to the table.
- Finally, DarkPower harps about how MS "ties the hands" of third-party developers. That can't be farther from the truth. Development companies enter agreements and contracts at thei free will because MS offers them incentives. Is that a bad thing? Not in an advanced liberal democracy like the US which has an economy founded on capitalism and the value of competition.