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For a long time, signing an exclusive deal to release your game on only one console was a sure-fire way to produce a hit. With the might of internal advertising divisions behind them and the fanboys out in full promotional force, games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Halo, which were single-platform games, were typically the highest selling releases on their given console.
Today, the reality is changing very quickly. Games like Modern Warfare 3 have sold well across a multitude of platforms, often outselling the exclusive games on their own machines. Similarly, the biggest cross-platform adventure games like Skyrim are beating out exclusive effects, even on their own machines, to sell more units on each console despite their wide multi-platform release.
The most recent example of this is Skyrim outselling Gears of War 3, an exclusive Xbox 360 game, on its own console. Despite being released on the 360 and PC, Skyrim beat out several major Xbox 360 games during the month of its release, throwing the old ‘exclusive is best’ idea on its head. For the most part, it seems that widely available quality will often outsell smaller, exclusive games.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Skyrim had a massive advertising budget behind it and a huge deal of hype prior to its release. However, other games – Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 – outsold exclusive titles by a significant margin, too. Are we in the era of the giant cross-platform game, and is the exclusive still worth it? The data certainly suggests that we very much are.