With game development costs growing to monstrous proportions and trampling the unconventional concepts roaming the streets of less ambitious publishers, it doesn't take a brilliant businessman to realize that multiplatform releases are likely to generate more money than exclusives. It might, however, take a brilliant programmer to carry out that strategy. Since the Xbox 360 and PS3 both embrace the paradigm of parallelism (or really pretty graphics, if you prefer), it has become almost a foregone conclusion that a large number of titles will inevitably wind up on both platforms.
It's not an outlandish conclusion to reach, but the journey may not be as easy as all that. In a recent (and very interesting) Ars Technica interview, Xbox 360 developer Matt Lee points out that porting games between the two systems might be a tad tricky. "I think porting from Xbox 360 to PS3 will be reasonably difficult, since the Xbox 360 has a lot more general purpose processing power that can be flexibly reallocated, and all of the Xbox 360 CPU cores have equal access to all memory. The asymmetric nature of the Cell could easily lead to situations where the game has too little of one type of processing power and too much of another."
Of course, the Xbox 360's trio of general purpose processors may pose an equally significant problem when attempting to tackle a game designed with the PS3's Cell design in mind. Adding multithreaded graphics engines and physics routines to the equation only makes things more complicated and fails to provide a clear answer to the question: If a game costs a fortune to produce, how many publishers are likely to invest even more in porting a game across the Microsoft-Sony divide? It may not have been a major issue in the previous generation, but money changes everything.