Microsoft’s Strategy of Putting Xbox One Exclusives on Windows 10 Is Counter Productive

GamingBolt’s Pramath Parijat opines that cross platform games support between Windows 10 and Xbox One will degrade the latter’s value.

Posted By | On 11th, Feb. 2016 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Earlier today, Microsoft announced that Remedy’s hotly anticipated new action game, Quantum Break, will be coming to PCs running Windows 10- and not only will it not be a late port, like so many of Microsoft’s Xbox One games have been, but it will be launching day and date with the Xbox One version. Not only that- the Windows 10 version seems like it will indeed be pushing PCs to their limits, judging by the recommended specs, and it will have cross compatibility with the Xbox One version.

In other words, this isn’t the kind of half hearted support that Microsoft have often provided the PC platform in the past, ever since the rise of the Xbox- this is them putting a major game on the PC, a game that PC players are bound to enjoy (a reminder for everybody that Remedy’s heritage lies in PC game development), on the PC day and date as the Xbox One version. It is, really, a far cry from the delayed ports of re-releases and free to play games such as Killer Instinct, Gears of War Ultimate, and Fable Legends, which have been all that Microsoft have had to show for their PC gaming strategy so far.

"From the days of the NES, exclusives are what have sold consoles, differentiating them not only from other consoles and handhelds, but from PCs as well."

On the one hand, this is good news- Microsoft are, for good or for bad, the most influential company in the PC market, and even in the PC gaming market, their influence continues to be felt, regardless of their attempts to distance themselves from it in recent years- after all, the importance of DirectX, or their universal controller APIs, or simply of Windows in providing a common platform for PC games to run on, cannot be overstated. But on the other hand, as we see more and more Xbox exclusives begin to jump ship – it started with Fable Legends, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Killer Instinct, continued on with Gears of War Ultimate, and is now coming to a head this year, with major, anticipated Xbox One exclusives, such as ReCore, Sea of Thieves, Halo Wars 2, and now, Quantum Break – we must ask ourselves the question: what is the point in purchasing an Xbox One any more at this point?

It is, after all, a pertinent question to ask- at this point, what reason does one have, really, to invest in an Xbox One?

This is a question that ultimately touches upon the fundamental reason for any console’s existence. Remember, from a purely objective software and hardware perspective, PCs are a far better platform, even for video games, than any console- they are open platforms, with far better and more powerful hardware than any console, and thus better graphics and tech, as well as far more flexible control schemes, far better control over one’s game experience via granular settings and mods, and in general, just far more options. The reason that consoles have always managed to define themselves as legitimate gaming platforms, even in the face of PCs, has been the fact that they offer games that cannot be had on PCs- in other words, exclusives.

From the days of the NES, exclusives are what have sold consoles, differentiating them not only from other consoles and handhelds, but from PCs as well. From Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid to Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star, and Streets of Rage, from Uncharted and Gran Turismo to even third party games such as Final Fantasy, Persona, and Metal Gear, consoles have always sold themselves on the promise of desirable titles that can only be played on those consoles- or at least, that can be played on them far earlier, and/or far better, than they can be on other systems, including PCs.

This is, in fact, a distinction that even continued with Microsoft’s own Xbox, even though it began to blur a little more- if you wanted to play Halo, Gears of War, or Fable, Xbox was the place to play them- these were generally well optimized, well supported versions of the games, and they came out far before these games’ PC versions, which, if they ever came out at all, were late, unoptimized, poorly supported, and unpleasant to play. But it is a distinction that now seems to be changing- with the Xbox One, even more than with the Xbox 360, where Microsoft ultimately stepped out of the exclusive games arms race, focusing instead on a few flagship brands, and on making Xbox 360 versions of multiplatform games, as well as the system itself, more appealing, Microsoft seem to have conceded the battle for system defining exclusives entirely.

quantum-break 9

"To date, almost all major Xbox One exclusives have had PC versions, or have PC versions in the works- Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, Ori and the Blind Forest, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Killer Instinct,, Screamride, Cobalt, and Quantum Break, with upcoming titles such as Fable Legends, Halo Wars 2, Sea of Thieves, and ReCore all due to get PC versions too."

To date, almost all major Xbox One exclusives have had PC versions, or have PC versions in the works- Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, Ori and the Blind Forest, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Killer Instinct,\, Screamride, Cobalt, and Quantum Break, with upcoming titles such as Fable Legends, Halo Wars 2, Sea of Thieves, and ReCore all due to get PC versions too. Essentially, unless you really like Forza Motorsport or Halo, as of this point, there is no reason to get an Xbox One anymore- a gaming PC will do just fine as a replacement.

Not only will it do just fine- it will do better. A reminder, that all these games will run far better on gaming PCs than on the Xbox One, which is the weakest of the high end systems of this generation. PCs will run these games with better graphics, and with more options, and with the chance to play these games either with the keyboard and mouse, or with any controller of your choice- if you prefer the Wii U Pro or the DualShock 4, you can now actually play through Quantum Break with those controllers. If these games, these exclusives, were the reason for you wanting to purchase an Xbox One to begin with, now you have no reason to get one- as we move further and further into this generation, it is becoming abundantly clear that Microsoft’s strategy is to create a Windows 10-Xbox One ‘ecosystem,’ and to secure ‘exclusive’ games for this ecosystem, rather than for any one of these two platforms.

In a way, it echoes a bit of what Sony does- they, too, after all, secure a lot of games, that come to either the PS Vita or the PS3 alongside the PS4, do they not? Then why does this criticism not apply to PS4, and only top the Xbox One?

There are, simply put, two important reasons:

The first reason is that there is not much market overlap between a handheld like the PS Vita and a high end home console like the PS4. Most people interested in a console are not going to want to play Dynasty Warriors or Final Fantasy on a handheld. This means that they can maintain their shared games as de facto exclusives for their consoles- and for the few who would prefer to play their games on a handheld, they add value to their overall ecosystem. This is not true for a console/PC divide, since these two platforms are always vying for the same market, and with the rise of Steam in the last few years, have similar demographics with far more overlap;

There is no one system the PS4 shares its games with as much as the Xbox One shares most of its games with the PC. Some PS4 games are shared with the Vita; some are shared with the PS3. Most remain exclusive to the PS4. Even if the shared games are all you wanted from the PS4, to be able to adequately substitute a PS4, you would need to purchase a PS3 and a PS Vita, and you’d be paying for inferior hardware, and worse versions of those games. Buying a PS4, which will also play the best versions of those games, is simply a more sensible decision. In the case of Xbox and PC, a PC can almost entirely substitute an Xbox, and it gets the better versions of most of the Xbox One exclusive games as well.

Record

"Microsoft are gratuitously sharing the love- that’s awesome, it really is, and it benefits Microsoft, since it adds value to their very own Windows 10, and simultaneously also exposes these games and features to far wider audiences than the Xbox One’s paltry install base would afford them."

I have to admit, while I do appreciate Microsoft’s resolve to have a shared ecosystem, and on supporting PC gaming, I am a bit baffled here. I do not doubt that ultimately adding value to Windows 10, which is a far more important product to Microsoft’s bottom line than the Xbox, is a sensible strategy to take as a business- Microsoft as a company are far more likely to benefit by investing in Windows 10 than a relatively niche product (by comparison) like Xbox One.

But while I can see it being good for the company, I think this is terrible for the product. This lack of committed exclusive support is the exact same thing that killed Windows Phone against the iPhone and Android, which had exclusive support from their makers, and the backing of major companies with a focus on pushing them. Microsoft, on the other hand, ended up sharing almost every major, defining feature of Windows Phone, with iOS and Android- mobile Microsoft Office, Xbox compatibility, Cortana, even their keyboard. At this point, you can have a full Microsoft phone without ever buying a Windows Phone- there is no reason left to buy a Windows Phone. And yes, Microsoft benefitted from this as a company, but Windows Phone did not. Windows Phone is now dead as a result.

That is exactly what I see happening here, with Xbox One. Microsoft are gratuitously sharing the love- that’s awesome, it really is, and it benefits Microsoft, since it adds value to their very own Windows 10, and simultaneously also exposes these games and features to far wider audiences than the Xbox One’s paltry install base would afford them. But it means the Xbox has nothing left to define it, to differentiate it. Not from the PS4- the PS4 is a system with far better hardware, and far more first and third party support, for multiplatform and exclusive games, than the Xbox One is; and not from the PC either, with which it now shares all its games. Simply put, the Xbox One is now no longer in the conversation- it’s either PC, or PS4, or both. Frighteningly enough, even the Wii U enters conversation as a secondary system, thanks to its enviably long list of quality exclusives. But unless you simply want a poorer copy of the PS4, at this point, there is no reason left to consider the Xbox One. A PC can do everything that it can, and it can do it better.

And that’s what it comes down to- the Xbox is robbed of any reason to exist, or to be purchased. If my interest is in multiplatform games, the PS4 and PC play those better. If my interest is in exclusive titles, the PS4 has far more of them; if it’s specifically Xbox One exclusives, then those are all on PC, too. If I just wanted a secondary system, then PS4 would go far better with a PC than an Xbox One would, which does all the same things, but worse; the Wii U would go far better, if only because it has games no other system does.

Killer Instinct: Season Two

"Microsoft is degrading Xbox’s value as a product. In the long run, this is far more beneficial to them as a company, of course- one would be foolish to deny that. Windows is a more important product, and each coveted game they put on it adds to Windows’ value."

That’s what I mean here- Microsoft is degrading Xbox’s value as a product. In the long run, this is far more beneficial to them as a company, of course- one would be foolish to deny that. Windows is a more important product, and each coveted game they put on it adds to Windows’ value. Each of these games, in turn, has a bigger install base to sell to. But while this is good for Microsoft, it is terrible for Xbox.

And it also makes me wonder just how or why they enter these different markets – MP3 players, smartphones, consoles – if they can’t, or don’t want to, commit to supporting their products and see them through to the end, in the long run.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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  • drjonesjnr

    Absolutely brilliant article.
    They don’t call it the irrelevant box for nothing 🙂

    • Truth™

      Consoles are now irrelevant. Thanks for noticing 🙂

  • Truthhurts24

    Good job Phil Spencer! Increase the fanbase for both ecosystems the console and pc market. This move will greatly benefit Xbox in the long term because their games will reach a bigger audience which equals to increased sales and higher interest for not only AAA exclusives but indies as well. .The only people who will hate this move will be the feeble minded fanboys and girls that love to complain over petty bs.

    • Mark

      Here here!

  • Mr Xrat

    It’s not counter-productive at all. Microsoft is leaving the console hardware business and they want as many of the Xbox userbase (the one who aren’t completely useless like CrapGamer and Nxtgen720) to move to the W10 Store which is what is going to become the Xbone’s successor. Why else would they be offering a free PC version with an Xbone digital copy but not vice versa?

    Writing’s on the walls, guys. It’s over.

    • Cenk Algu

      What is over Rat? Billions of dollars value companies do not move their strategies because of fanboys like you.Did you know it? They created an ecosystem to dominate entire industry.They will be making much more money than Sony now.Devs will be using the same OS and same API language which will cause more focus on XO/PC than a single PS platform.If you think that there wont be another Xbox, then lol @ you haha

    • Mr Xrat

      No, they’re moving their strategies because the Xbox brand is a massive stinking failure.

    • Cenk Algu

      lol ok Rat so be it!

    • Truth™

      Ratboy how close are Sony to paying off that $8 billion hole the PS3tanic left in the company?

    • Truth™

      Writing is on the wayy. Consoles are dead, ratboy. Everyone moves to the superior PC platform except the Sony scum desperately clinging to Bloodborne 🙂

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/69f04dcf75c26add47ae81b934dff464568334369712fe44ac8e2cd360aa996c.png

  • Rikarudo

    Been saying this for years, nice article, but in the end, i guess gamers win and Sony becomes more valuable.

  • Pingback: Le sort de la Xbox One en suspens… – gamer philosophe et impertinent()

  • omarcominyo

    The only annoying thing was cancelling my QB xone pre order and changing it for the pc version!

  • Truth™

    Consoles are dead. Xboners coping with loss while Sonycucks spinning themselves into a frenzy trying to defend their meme console now it literally has nothing but 30FPS shovelware

    PC always wins, baby 🙂

    • omarcominyo

      Have a day off child, you’re boring!!

    • Truth™

      Consoles are dead. PC always wins 🙂

    • omarcominyo

      It isn’t a competition when U own all of them though is it? You try to pass yourself off as a gamer but you just come across like a troll! Soz to break the TRUTH to u!

    • Truth™

      What use are consoles any more? All the games are coming to PC with better framerate and resolution.

      There is no need for them any more 🙂

    • omarcominyo

      I have my consoles for exclusives that will NEVER come to PC, why would I deny myself some great games because of some pathetic immature brand loyalty? That’d make me an idiot(no offence)
      I’m a gamer ffs! What are you?(apart from a troll of course)

    • Truth™

      Most “Console exclusives” are coming to PC and exclusives are an anti-consumer practice that only brand loyal shills support. You aren’t a real gamer. You are a shill.

    • omarcominyo

      You clearly think of yourself as some kind of ‘winner’ but you come across as nothing but a ‘loser’ I’m afraid! Soz!!
      You probably buy, own or enjoy Sony products on a regular basis but are too stupid to realise that fact! Soz!!
      You’ve already had way more of my attention than you deserve and I was bored of you 2 comments ago! Soz!!
      Keep ‘winning’!!(smirk)

  • Hvd

    i can tell you ill no longer buy a xbox one or any console after this move.ill just stick to the pc and wait for 80% of the consoles exclusives to come there and pay $35 for them using g2a like most pc gamers are already talking about.

    i dont care about just halo being on the console.xbox lost a long time console buyer here.im going full pc to get these games now.i wont buy the next xbox box at all.

  • Jimmy Jangle

    Note the weasel words at the bottom. Typical 3rd world website, ran by call-centre goons who should go back to their day jobs.

  • Hazumu

    Ok Bloodborne has sold over 1,3 million copies over 40 million ps4 consoles, COD has sold more than 4 milion (or more,Im not sure) The thing is, most exclusives don’t sell consoles, but they give it a very special value to the console: As for myself, xbox one is still worth it. We’re getting games from pc, Backwards compatibility, Halo 5, Halo MCC, Sunset Overdrive, Forza 5 & 6, Forza horizon 2 and the upcoming xbox one-W10 games. But why do they hide the pc version? This is a huge mistake from MS, selling a game like QB since 2013 as an xbox one exclusive (well, it is an exclusive after all) and just a few months before the release, “oh,by the way, it is also coming to PC”. Just why do they do that? because MS knows that exclusives gives value to their product after all? Just announce the pc (windows 10) version along with the xbox one just like they did with halo wars 2.

    • J.j. Barrington

      Bloodborne has been over 2 million for months now

    • Hazumu

      oh ok not bad considering the game has been out for 11 months. My info was a bit outdated lol

    • J.j. Barrington

      I repeat “for months now.”

      And are you really comparing a niche title like Bloodborne to Call of Duty?

    • Hazumu

      What I’m trying to say is, even though exclusives are important, they (usually) don’t sell in proportion with the consoles. I mean, maybe 75% of all the people who own a ps4 (or a xbox one) haven’t played or bought an exclusive game. Comparing a “niche” exclusive (with TV spots, and all) with COD is just a little example.

    • J.j. Barrington

      That’s incorrect. Or, rather, that’s incomplete.

      One of the many reasons multiplats are multiplats is because they have a wide appeal. Because of this, they have a natural tendency to sell better than exclusives, which typically aim for a more narrow audience. This is why so many exclusives are considered successful despite having considerably lower numbers than many multiplats.

      75%- there’s a joke to be made here about made up statistics- may not buy any single exclusive, but it’s exceedingly rare for someone to own a console and own NO exclusives for it. Rarer than you make it out to be, easily.

      TV spots don’t make something not niche. Bloodborne is in the vein of the acclaimed Souls games; it’s got a pretty good crowd, and that crowd watches TV, do they not? Niche games can and do still get commercials.

      Does it get marketed like Call of Duty?

    • Hazumu

      Multiplatform games have a wide appeal because they are multiplatforms maybe? If Splatoon were multi then it would have sold a lot, lot more. Look, I understand your point, but it seems that, both ps4 and xbox one didn’t sell for their respective exclusives, more for the brand I would say, there’s a lot of great exclusives to come for both consoles and they already sold 40 and 20 million consoles? I guess the majority of console players just wanted to play the newest games with better graphics.

    • J.j. Barrington

      … apparently you don’t get the point.

      That point is: because exclusives don’t cater to as wide a base, you’re not typically gonna see the sales of one particular exclusive come close to matching the number of sales of the console it’s on. The exclusives pull in people with different tastes, and they ALL get the big multiplats.

  • VoidWalker

    NICE! I can finally play all those games I was missing out on! Thank you Microsoft for doing the right thing by PC gamers. Why anyone would be mad by this is completely disturbing to me. Although knowing some of my interactions with Xbone fanboys I can tell you they are usually pretty toxic when it comes to anything getting in the way of their favorite console being seen as the “best”.

  • XanderZane41

    Wow, what a troll article this is. XBox One not in the conversation. LMAO!! The XB1 will not get almost all of the PC Win10-DX12 exclusives first. PS4 won’t see many of these games right away, because it won’t support Win10 or DX12. Millions will still buy the XB1 and its games because they don’t care about purchasing a high priced PC and having to deal with some of its issues when running these games.

  • edge

    For all these people who ridicule Microsoft for their “pseudo-exclusives”, how many of them thought of Rocket League as an exclusive?

    That’s what I thought.


 

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