The reaction by pocket of the Xbox-loving internet to news that Quantum Break would not an “exclusive” Xbox title and would also be shared with PC was dumb. The justification for this frankly impotent rage was that it showed that Microsoft is turning its Xbox customers into a 2nd class group. This rage misses the economic and technological point.
Xbox One’s sales have been lacklustre. So far, Sony has won this generation – largely by following a playbook written by Microsoft. With this being the case, for console ‘exclusives’, which has never really included PC; such deals now have to be sweetened to continue to court developers.
Given the lower install base, if Xbox One users want to continue to have access to exclusives – some concessions must be made. Nintendo aside, consoles on purchase are a lost-leader product. The value to Sony or Microsoft is now derived from online subscriptions. This means that with poorer sales, for shareholders – the Xbox division is most likely a risk and not covering its own costs.
Of course, this is terribly chicken and egg – exclusives attract new consumers and according subscriptions. But by not wiping its own face, cash isn’t infinite nor available to secure these exclusive without some concessions being made.
I am aware that pointing out commercial reality’s often falls on deaf ears: With some people not wanting to admit that they are merely customers. So lets approach Quantum Break-gate from another angle.
The technology behind all platforms is converging. In the past consoles of various flavours and PC operated on unique and different operating systems. This was an attempt to protect against piracy, control ecosystems and simply a result ICT at the time.
Today technology is much more Commercial -Of-The-Shelf. Moving away from unique hardware and software architecture was essential to maintain a lower cost of console. By doing this the hardware has moved closer to PC; which allows titles to be ported from console to console to PC with ease. With this being the case and flagging sales, having the title on PC and Xbox is a sensible move.
The elephant in the room is mobile which is now the largest gaming platform. Even Nintendo is now courting mobile developers with its choice of Android for the NX. Microsoft is also dumping *.exe’s with its Universal Windows Platform app across Windows 10 devices. The platform no longer matters.
With the rise of cloud computing and IT being delivered as a service, the platform becomes less and less important as it simply becomes a portal to access media hosted externally. This evolution means that soon, mobile gaming vs PC gaming vs console gaming becomes moot. Quantum Break no longer being an Xbox ‘exclusive’ foreshadows this future.
Featured image is taken from an article on TVTropes titled PC vs. Console.
All images used without permission, please contact squareblind (at) email (dot) com if you are the copyright holder and wish this to be removed.