How Has PlayStation Found Itself In Need Of An Exclusive?

By Stacey Henley

It’s difficult to think what PlayStation might have lined up for the upcoming Showcase. It could be a big test of the company’s exclusive-heavy policy.

The PlayStation Showcase is right around the corner, and it’s made some odd thoughts leap forward. For the last ten years, PlayStation has been the dominant force in gaming. Clueless parents who once called all games consoles ’Nintendos’ now call them all ‘PlayStations’. It has launched killer app after killer app, be they sequel, reboot, bought and paid for existing IP, or completely new projects. Xbox meanwhile has fumbled – Redfall is the latest in a long line of awkward failures.

But as the Showcase nears, it feels like the reality of ballooning budgets and longer development cycles are taking a toll on PlayStation’s lustre. These showcases always conjure up speculation, but with PlayStation it seems to be a matter of crossing studios out. Games just take too long for Sony to continue the pace it has been moving at since the PS4 first launched. I’ve long said our current development time/cost system is unsustainable, and this showcase has me feeling the same way. PlayStation is on course for exactly where it needs to be right now, and clearly still has the upper hand. But it is short of the embarrassment of riches it once possessed.

Sony Santa Monica has just shipped God of War Ragnarok, and Guerrilla Horizons forbidden west and call of the Mountain. Insomniac has a few coming up, but Spidey will be the only one here. Bungie, newly acquired, is too tied up in Destiny’s many controversies, and while there are rumblings that Naughty Dog is making a fantasy game, I doubt we’ll see any of that before Factions 2. And are we really counting Factions, which was meant to be shipped three years ago with The Last of Us Part 2, as an exciting new game?

We (all but) know Metal Gear will be there, but remakes just don’t have the juice we expect from PlayStation. There’s an outside chance Sucker Punch has something on the Ghost of Tsushima sequel we won’t get for another couple of years too. Team Asobi is the only one I think could credibly reveal a game we’ll get to play soon. There’s also Stellar Blade, but I’m yet to meet someone who isn’t my own reflection in a mirror who cares. Aside from that, there will be a lot of third-party games.


via Square Enix

Of course, PlayStation is still on top of the world. Final Fantasy 16 will likely skip the Showcase as we’ve seen so much of it, and Spider-Man is a dead cert. PS VR2 will also have a decent presence, although I expect that to be Beat Saber finally getting a VR2 release date, an adaptation of an existing game (Spidey?), and some stuff that looks interesting but few will fork out for.

It’s reductive to look at what Xbox and PlayStation are doing and claim one is winning, but PlayStation is winning. It’s not even close. The reason so many third-party titles like Mortal Kombat 1 (and, if you forced me to guess, I’d wager Pragmata, Tekken 8, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage feel most likely) gravitate towards the PlayStation events is because PlayStation gets more eyeballs, has a wider appeal, and remains the king.

But PlayStation’s throne is built on a steady stream of exclusives. With the pandemic, the switch in console generations, and the ballooning development times, that stream is running dry. Xbox has, if anything, fallen further behind this gen, as its acquisitions are yet to bear fruit while Halo and Redfall have fizzled. PlayStation is still in control, but this Showcase will be a test of whether its strategy can last.

I wrote recently that Xbox just needs one great game (namely Starfield) to get back in contention. The reason for that is PlayStation’s fairly barren upcoming catalogue that has left the door open. A flurry of surprise reveals with solid release dates would slam that door shut. We’ll find out more next Wednesday.


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The material in this article is written on the basis of another article.

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