Someday, we'll talk about third-party exclusives like the way we talk about car phones, Laserdiscs and troll dolls -- a thing of the past. That someday could be sooner than you think, if Microsoft exec Shane Kim is to be believed. "[Microsoft has] said for a long time that a key part of our strategy with Xbox 360 was a level third-party playing field," Kim tells Gamasutra in a recent interview. "Now we've effectively done that with Metal Gear Solid [Rising] coming to the Xbox 360."
Short of a blank check from Microsoft or Sony -- like, what was the asking price for Agent exclusivity, you know? -- there's little incentive for a third-party publisher to release a big-budget game for only Xbox 360 or PS3. It's possible that third-party exclusives will flourish as small, downloadable games and DLC (though those GTA IV add-ons weren't cheap for Microsoft), but it's more likely that they'll diminish as cheap carnival games -- geddit? Of course, with Microsoft and Sony designing their own waggleware apparatuses, such low-grade third-party exclusives won't necessarily continue to be exclusive, either.
Still, Kim argues that "exclusive content is really important." And so, it's up to the first-party publishers to essentially unlevel the playing field with their own IPs. "[It's] really not about relying on third parties, because I don't think that that is sustainable, as we've proven," Kim concludes. "And it's up to each of us to differentiate on our own."