Now that developers Bungie, BioWare and Bizarre are now either independent or owned by well-known multi-platform publishers, where does that leave the Xbox 360 considering each of those studios had a strong relationship with the console? GameDaily spoke with a couple of leading analysts in the industry to get their ideas on how these studios going in a different direction will impact the console that benefited from their commitment. Analysts, sound off:
  • Mike Hickey, Janco Partners: "We anticipate MSFT will have ample opportunity to sign exclusive agreements with independent developers who are not necessarily willing to devote significant resources to the development of PS3 games."
  • Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities: "I understand the logic that says that EA and Activision won't allow exclusives, but for a price they will. Remember, GTA was always a PS2 exclusive, and it was a third-party title. Also Metal Gear will be a third-party exclusive for PS3, so where there is a checkbook, there's a way. ... The only first party loss is Bungie, and I think Microsoft has gotten itself a first look at all future Bungie products. Remember, Microsoft "owned" the Bungie name, and gave it back to the studio. There must have been some quid pro quo, and I'd bet it's a limited exclusive on future content."
  • David Cole, DFC Intelligence: "One thing that Microsoft could do better is general marketing outside of just for titles that start with the name Halo. Microsoft is fairly cheap on the marketing side and often seems to save it all up for a big title like Gears of War or Halo 3. I think they should be more consistent around all their products."
  • Todd Greenwald, Nollenberger Capital Partners: "I don't think it's that big a problem for the 360. I think it may actually be a result of the strength and large installed base of the 360. With the significant installed base lead over the PS3, Microsoft no longer needs 1st party studios to be assured of premium content. The 360 installed base is too big for publishers to ignore now."
With the Xbox 360's impressive attach rate, it would seem the system is still the place for third-party developers -- although there are arguments that the attach rate is a bad thing. What we do know is that Microsoft still has the right of first refusal on Bungie games and BioWare's Mass Effect is still an Xbox 360 exclusive. And unless the PS3 starts picking up sales in '08 and perceptions change with the Wii, it appears the Xbox 360 will still be the place for third-party developers over the next couple years.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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