At this point, it is indisputable that the PS4 has the best lineup of exclusive games of all the major consoles on the market- the Switch has just launched (although with resounding success), the Wii U’s lead in this area has long since been lost, and the Xbox One has seen a number of exclusives getting cancelled. Meanwhile, the PS4 is channeling the glory days of the PS2, with exclusives from first parties and third parties, Japan and the West, and across all major genres conceivable.
One only has to take a look at this year’s line up for the PlayStation 4. Yakuza 0, Nioh, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier Automata, Tales of Berseria and a ton of other great multiplatform games have made 2017 a fantastic year for video games. Furthermore, the PlayStation 4 has many more upcoming exclusives such as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Spider-Man, Gran Turismo Sport, The Last of Us Part 2, Death Stranding and others. This kind of line-up has ensured that the PlayStation 4 is the console to play on at this point. Sony seem to be deeply invested into its first party studios and this effort is clearly paying dividends in the form of some amazing sales figures for its console.
But Sony isn’t just taking a leaf out of their own playbook- they are also taking a leaf out of Microsoft‘s from the Xbox 360 era. Like Microsoft, they, too, seem to be going after the biggest third party games of the year, securing marketing and exclusive co-branding deals, ensuring that the biggest games of the year – because while exclusives sell well and add dimension to the library of a platform, big multiplatform games remain the big sellers overall – are associated with their platform almost reflexively.
The average gamer, the gamer who purchases Call of Duty and FIFA, and maybe one or two of the most hyped exclusives, like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, when he/she sees the PlayStation brand splashed next to Star Wars Battlefront or Destiny it automatically forms a sub conscious association.
And this is what is happening right now. PlayStation currently has third party marketing deals and possible exclusive content for some of the biggest games of 2017. Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Duty: WWII, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Destiny 2 are all likely to be the biggest games of the year, and Sony is involved in all of them. On the other hand, the only such deal Microsoft has announced for this year so far is Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, which… I mean, I’m sure it’ll be big, but not on this same level (although Microsoft will possibly have something around FIFA this year which will be huge). Then there is the possibility of the next Assassin’s Creed receiving exclusive content on the PlayStation 4 given how Assassin’s Creed Syndicate also received the same back in 2015.
Of course, in the last few years, Sony has used these third party deals to cover for deficiencies in its lineup of tentpole exclusives around the Holiday season. That has definitely tempered things a bit- but this year, with so many big name exclusives still set to launch for the system, and with all the big third party titles all having marketing deals with Sony, the question of just how Sony’s commercial viability in the market can even be met, let alone countered, by Microsoft becomes a very real one.
In short, Sony seems to have a tight hold on third party games marketing and exclusive content and although it isn’t as big as a exclusive, it certainly is impactful enough to capture the attention of the average gamer. Maybe Microsoft can counter by announcing some excellent first party exclusive games for Xbox, due later this year, at E3 this year. Hopefully they do just that, actually.