Microsoft exec makes it clear that if another platform gets a game first, then Microsoft doesn't want it.
Ever notice how the game osmosis between Xbox Live and PlayStation Network seems to be a one way thing? It's a fair bet that any game that appears on the Xbox Live Marketplace will, eventually - after a great deal of hand wringing - make its way over to PSN, whereas if you're a 360 owner eyeing a PSN exclusive, you're out of luck. Apparently, that's a deliberate decision on Microsoft's part. Talking to Eurogamer, Xbox Europe boss Chris Lewis explained that Microsoft policy states that non-exclusive titles have to launch at exactly the same time, and with exactly the same content, as the versions for other platforms, if they don't, Microsoft can decide to simply not release them.
Microsoft's Content Submission and Release Policy states:
"Titles for Xbox 360 must ship at least simultaneously with other video game platform, and must have at least feature and content parity on-disc with the other video game platform versions in all regions where the title is available. If these conditions are not met, Microsoft reserves the right to not allow the content to be released on Xbox 360."
Yep, it extends to disc-based games too. Essentially, any title released for the 360 must have exactly the same on-disc content as it's PS3 or Wii counterpart. There are ways around the policy, of course. L.A Noire got away with offering launch exclusive content for PS3 owners by packaging it as DLC. Microsoft also seems to play fast and loose with its own rules depending on the size of the franchise in question. The 360 version of Mortal Kombat, for example, comes with absolutely no bonus content, while the PS3 version has surly egghead Kratos from God of War as an on-disc bonus character. For whatever reason, Microsoft chose to turn a blind eye to that one.
It all sounds a bit childish really, but Lewis argues the policy has a positive effect on the industry. "We just want what our consumers want from us," he said. "We want to be where they want us to be. We want the quality bar of what they experience from us to continue to go up. I think it has to happen. Everybody's got to do that. If we want to continue to command healthy average selling prices, which we all do, that which we offer our consumers has got to keep getting better. Despite the fact it can be irksome to have such strong competition all the time, it actually does keep us on our toes. It's great for everyone, and it makes for a very healthy race to higher and higher levels of quality of game experiences."
A representative from a publisher, who wishes to remain anonymous, lest he/she face Microsoft's biblical wrath, disagreed. Talking to Eurogamer, they said, "Microsoft is suggesting that anything but parity will result in them not carrying a title. They may think this is competitive, but it's not. They are killing any creative exposure of titles to make up for their own platform's shortcomings."