When the two new consoles were released last year, neither one had a game that could be counted as a system seller. Microsoft pointed to the March 2014 release of Titanfall as the game that would drive sales for the Xbox One which was released in November 2013. However, now that the sales numbers have been released, it is clear that didn’t happen. The Playstation 4 outsold the Xbox One in the month of March and, according to the publisher EA, Titanfall has failed to even sell 1 million units. In my opinion, this happened due to it not being an Xbox exclusive.
Due to Titanfall coming out on Xbox 360 and PC, in addition to Xbox One, there are multiple ways to play without spending the $500 to buy an Xbox One. I believe Microsoft had to agree to avoid exclusivity because Respawn, the developer, didn’t want to sell to such a small install base, reportedly only 5 million units to date. By opening the sales up to PC and the 80 million Xbox 360 owners, the sales of the game would be high enough to make it a success for Respawn. Microsoft did not have much room to negotiate since Respawn is an independent studio. In this arena, Sony has a distinct advantage over Microsoft because they own several first party studios. Sony can determine what system the games will be on and drive hardware sales with them unlike Microsoft.
Microsoft has a severe disadvantage currently because they own so few studios to drive sales. They will have to lower the price on the Xbox One or release a Halo game to drive sales of the console. In my opinion, Halo is really the only property Microsoft owns that is currently in production that could sell Xbox One units. Ironically, the Xbox One is actually selling pretty well. It is selling faster than the Xbox 360 did in the first six months; however, the Playstation 4 is selling historically well also. What this means is console gaming is alive and well and that can only mean great things for gamers going forward.