It’s the fuel that feeds the fires of the perpetual console wars. The deciding factor that sways the decisions of some when purchasing a new gaming platform. They’re console exclusives; the games that set the next Playstation, Xbox or Nintendo system apart from the others in ways beyond graphics cards, performance specs, or the ergonomics of the controller. As of late, it isn’t exactly a secret that Microsoft has gotten a few sideways glances where their exclusive line up is concerned. Make no mistake, I’ll always line up up for a new Halo, Gears of War, or Fable title, their current stock is great. But, in the wake of their focus on the Kinect, it would seem that Microsoft hasn’t become uninterested in expanding their stable of first-party developers. If I were in charge there, these are the developers that I would probably be going after.
This is more a “should have bought” situation than a “should buy” one in light of EA’s purchase of Bioware some time ago, but it still deserves a spot on the list. Looking at Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect, games that were all released solely on the Xbox and PC platforms, it is clear that this studio has churned out some of the best RPG experiences that the Xbox and its predecessor have ever seen. Though many say that the Xbox is home to far too many shooters, which does have some truth to it, every console will have its RPG fans, and Microsoft would do well to throw them a bone in the form of some totally exclusive Role Playing experiences. If/when Bioware’s contract with EA runs out, Microsoft should be circling like hawks.
Like I said above, the Xbox is considered to be the home of the shooting genre. While this can be looked at as a flaw, it isn’t hard to recall that it was a FPS (Halo, anyone?) that ensured the Xbox’s future, so why shouldn’t they play to their strength in this respect? Far Cry, Crysis 1 and 2, and potentially TimeSplitters 4 are all some of the finest examples of first-person-shootin’ out there and making it so that future games coming from Crytek all bear the “Only on Xbox” stamp when they hit store shelves would be great. Giving people more reasons to shell out $60 a year for Xbox Live wouldn’t hurt, either, and given that these games have all had some great multiplayer suites, there is no doubt that it would.
3) Remedy Entertainment
Given that their last two games, Alan Wake and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, both came out on Xbox 360 (sans their Death Rally remake for iOS and Android), it might be wise for Microsoft to capitalize on Remedy’s loyalty and scoop them up. They have already shown their talent for coming up with creative ideas and executing them successfully. Their Max Payne games were film noir, bullet time masterpieces whose stories were just as captivating as the smooth gun play on display. Alan Wake, the Stephen King inspired suspense title whose setting alluded to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks television show, was a flawed but thrilling experience that used its whole “writer’s work coming to life” aesthetic very well. Remedy would help round out Microsoft’s portfolio in all the right ways.
Responsible for the critically acclaimed Limbo, Playdead could fill out the spot under Microsoft’s resume that reads “Indie Cred.” The indie tab on the Xbox Live Arcade sees plenty of traffic, and Limbo has done quite well since its release, so there wouldn’t be much worry that their games won’t sell. Given that the studio is in its infancy, with Limbo being the only game they have released, getting access to the Microsoft vault could be a big help and might let them flex their creative muscle even further. They have already expressed their desire to release their games on more than one platform, so Microsoft should probably act fast on this one.
5) Epic Games
This might come as a shocker for some, but no, Epic is not a first-party developer for Microsoft. Though the Gears of War games and Shadow Complex were all exclusive to Microsoft’s box, they are third party. Why Microsoft has not made more moves to purchase them is beyond me, but with their Unreal tech being a front runner in the game development world and their games selling in the millions with each release, it would be a very wise move to make Epic games a stay-inside pet.
What do you think; would these studios be a wise investment on Microsoft’s part? Let us know in the comments below!