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Xbox and PlayStation games crossing over: Is the console war finally over?

A PS5 on the side with a controller upon it

The Console war

For the last 20+ years, when Microsoft set foot into the console games market in 2001 with their black box with a neon green X upon it, another "console war" began. Xbox was competing against PlayStation 2, the successor of the PlayStation, 1 which beat out its rival in the previous console war with Sega and Nintendo.

Gamers till today are mostly split among these 2 camps, comparing between the hardware features and more notably, the exclusive games that one gains access to with each console.

But with recent developments and shifts in the industry, some developers want to diversify to hedge their bets and the hardware-makers themselves are also breaking out of their exclusive walls in an attempt to generate more sales. Is this the end of the console war? Or will this lead to something unexpected?

Xbox-exclusive no longer

Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, Sea of Thieves and Grounded are games that were formerly Xbox-exclusives (and PC). However, earlier this year (2024), Xbox announced that these games will be made available on the rival consoles.

This came to a shock to a number of Xbox fans, as one of the biggest reasons why they owned an Xbox is now becoming less relevant.

So why is this happening?

It can be inferred that Microsoft is changing up their sales strategies to generate more revenue, especially shelling a bomb over the acquisition of Activision Blizzard King (ABK). Previously, gamers could own multiple consoles and purchase multiple AAA games in a year. But with the prices of everything rising, it becomes much more difficult for gamers to do so. Perhaps they have estimated that by giving players of rival platforms a chance to buy and play the game, they would generate more revenue than keeping the game exclusive and hoping that gamers would cave, and buy the hardware to gain access.

And in fact, there were multiple times that the platform exclusivity "trick" that Xbox tried to pull off have failed. More specifically, this happened when Microsoft tried to enter the Japanese market. They had a number of third-party Japanese titles exclusive on the Xbox 360. However, it was not enough to convince the long-time Sony fans from converting over to Xbox. Eventually, some of these exclusive titles had to break the exclusivity by "remastering", or made contractual arrangements to port the titles over to PlayStation, as there was just simply not enough sales.

Will Sony PlayStation follow Xbox...?

While Microsoft has crossed the line allowed for first-party Xbox exclusives to be ported to rival consoles, Sony has yet to let that happen.

Historically, Sony's first-party exclusives have only been allowed to be ported to PC. And even then, they are first released exclusively on PlayStation for at least a year before being ported to PC.

For reference, one of the earlier PlayStation exclusives to receive a PC port was Horizon Zero Dawn. It was released exclusively for PlayStation in 2017, and only received a PC port in 2022.

And when that happened, the Sony fans nearly lost their minds. There was massive negativity that spread through social media, people questioning Sony's business decision and disappointed that their exclusive game was no longer exclusive. Regardless, Sony had gone ahead and ported a number of other PC ports in the next few years, all of which were fairly commercially successful.

But what is the most interesting development in the console war is that...

Square Enix announces new business strategy

Square Enix has famously been known to develop its high-budget games exclusively for PlayStation for a while now (Final Fantasy series), before porting to PC. But they have just announced that they would like to pursue a new strategy of multiplatform launches, rather than exclusively selected platforms, in the near-future.

Considering that Square Enix is one of the core third-party developers that is keeping a number of PlayStation fans loyal to the console, this change in business strategy could in turn, alter Sony's "PC-port-only" strategy.

How will this shape the console war? At the moment, it does seem that PlayStation still holds onto the most exclusivity, temporary or not. But Xbox does have Game Pass going for it, which has a huge library of games available for subscribers to enjoy, not to mention that with the acquisition of ABK, even Diablo IV is available there!

In my personal opinion, while I understand that each platform wants to leverage on exclusivity to get a bigger portion of the pie, and I am just happy that more people get to play the published games and enjoy it. Moreover, I am sure that the respective game developers who put in their blood, sweat and tears to make it come to life would want more people to enjoy it as well.


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