There have been rumours for over a year now that PlayStation has been particularly aggressive behind closed doors as it transitions to a new generation. Timed exclusives are part and parcel of platform launches, and while Microsoft has spoken out against them, its Japanese rival has never exactly hidden the fact that it’s willing to open its wallet in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Around a year ago, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida suggested that the manufacturer’s next-gen strategy will focus primarily on hardcore gamers, as it attempts to transition “taste makers” to the PlayStation 5. He suggested that the firm will go out of its way to please its biggest fans, with a large focus on exclusives, major third-party publishers, and independent developers.
And while Xbox continues to entrench itself with services and potentially disruptive business models, we’re seeing Sony’s approach. Its software selection, which spans major first-party titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West, is looking huge for the PS5’s first 18 months on the market – and the rumours are that it’s still got much, much more to show.
But the Japanese giant is clearly not stopping there: there are intensifying rumours that it’s signed a deal with Square Enix to secure some form of exclusivity on Final Fantasy XVI, and online scuttlebutt suggests it won’t be the last third-party title it has locked down. We’ve already seen two major titles from Bethesda, Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo, announced as timed console exclusives.
Sony may have replaced its old slogan, but it still wants PS5 to be the best place to play – and it clearly believes content is key to that. Marvel’s Avengers will include Spider-Man as an exclusive playable character on PlayStation platforms only, and while the fallout relating to this is massive around the web, the reality is that the title will sell best on Sony’s systems.
It’s unfortunate for fans of other formats, but PlayStation’s primary goal is to make its brand more appealing than the competition, and partnerships like this do ultimately move the needle. Given its latest financial results, Sony has both the incentive and the market share to make these timed exclusives a reality – and clearly it’s going to use that to its advantage.
It’s nothing new, though – not really. Back in the PS1 days, the manufacturer used its chequebook to associate series like Tomb Raider with its system – a business transaction that helped establish Sony’s very first format as a staple of the mid-to-late-90s pop culture zeitgeist. This is a tried and trusted strategy that has served the Japanese giant well for decades, and it’d be naïve to expect it to abandon a successful tactic.
As these deals accumulate, there’ll be pushback against PlayStation – perhaps rightly so. But the Japanese giant won’t be phased: its goal, as alluded to earlier, is to make the PS5 the best place to play, and it intends to achieve that with exclusive content. The platform holder’s first-party pipeline is clearly primed to deliver, but it’ll be those additional deals it signs that’ll prove the real difference maker.
Do you feel Sony's being far too aggressive with its approach to timed exclusives and content partnerships, or is it merely attempting to add value to software for future PS5 owners? Do you think there are better ways it could transition players to its next-gen system? Make us a moneyhat in the comments section below.