Sony: Microsoft “writes cheques” for games thanks to first-party line-up insecurity

Tuesday, 14th April 2009 09:34 GMT By Patrick Garratt


SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller has told VG247 that Microsoft’s apparent need to pay for exclusivity on certain products – such as the Lost and Damned – is borne from a self-perceived lack of strength in its first-party line-up.

“Microsoft has had a much more lenient policy to writing cheques than we do,” he said.

“We don’t feel the need to write cheques necessarily with every publisher, like they did with the Lost and Damned and some other titles, because we feel very strongly in our first-party line-up.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’d put our first-party line-up against anyone’s, and Microsoft and other manufacturers probably lead a little bit when they’re writing cheques about how they feel about their own internal line-up.”

Microsoft reportedly loaned Rockstar $50 million for two episodes of GTA IV DLC, although the figure’s never been confirmed.

The first episiode, The Lost and Damned, is rumoured to have sold in the region of 1 million units.

Koller was speaking at GDC last month.



  1. Blerk

    So why don’t you feel confident about your first-party line-up and write cheques for exclusives, Mr Koller?

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Gekidami

    ? You make no sense Blerk.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Herlock

    @ Blerk
    They keep the money for the Sony Studio, exclusive is there, MS have barely nothing they need to do that.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Blerk

    Well, part of the reason why I drifted away from Sony was that Microsoft grabbed a whole bunch of really great titles by throwing money at them. If Sony had done that instead, I might not have left.

    I think he’s right in being confident about his first-party line-up because Sony do some great first-party stuff. But Microsoft’s first-party line-up is hardly lack-lustre. If Sony had bolstered their efforts with a bunch of third-party exclusives, perhaps they would’ve been in a better position now than they are.

    #4 6 years ago

    I’d say that they don’t feel the need to write cheques for 3rd party games because their cheque book is a looking a little stretched these days, rather than anything else.

    They probably haven’t been in the position of needing to put in the highest bid for an exclusive for a long time, since it’s been a long time since they haven’t had the vast majority of console market share (Before this gen). So maybe they are still just assuming that 3rd party devs should be chasing the Playstation brand rather than the other way around.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. Gekidami

    …Have MS even announced any 1st party games for 09?

    #6 6 years ago
  7. Blerk

    Barely any. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any – they did the same thing last year.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. Herlock

    Fable DLC… :)

    Don’t have strong studio for exclusive is stupid now.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Gekidami

    How many did they release last year, Like 3 or 4?

    #9 6 years ago
  10. Mike

    MS won’t announce anything until E3.

    #10 6 years ago

    I think that Halo ODST will probably sell better than most, if not all of Sony’s first party titles this year.

    Not because I think that it’s going to be a good game, but the Halo is one of the top three or four killer apps in modern day gaming.

    When I look at the way that big hitters of the likes of Killzone 2, LBP and Resistance dropped out of sales charts after a mere few weeks, then look at the fact that Halo 3 was the biggest ever grossing entertainment release when it came out, I think that it’s not such a bad prediction.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. Blerk

    A quick glance down the Wikipedia list suggests there were about 9 last year.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. JonFE

    IIRC, last gen Sony had some exclusive (timed or not) deals of its own. I assume some of those deals were sealed with money hats as well. Apparently, it was an respectable and acceptable policy back then…

    It would be an ideal game field if all the major players chose to concentrate on their own goals instead of bad-mouthing their opponent’s tactics…

    #13 6 years ago
  14. Shatner

    Microsoft need to bolster their (non existant) in-house development teams. They could learn lessons from Sony and, of course, Nintendo in a big way in this area. Being commitment-shy isn’t an option these days.

    Given that Microsoft ARE a software developer it sticks out like a sore thumb that they don’t have any internal studios developing for their console. As such, they don’t have any other option than to sign cheques in order to secure exclusive content. Whatever the fanboys think, no developer is going to ignore two thirds of the market just because they think one system is popular. Not unless they are provided with incentive to do so.

    The nature of game development, for the most part, can be pretty platform independent. When you’re programming gameplay, structure, doing art and so forth, you’re doing it to a piece of middleware (in laymans terms). Exclusivity deals can pop up very late in the day and are increasingly becoming ‘delay a multiplatform’ deal than genuine exclusivity anyway. Look at the mounting evidence in games like Tales of Vesperia for indications of this.

    It’s got far less to do with how stretched a manufacturer’s bank balance may seem. That’s a laughably naive dumbing down of the circumstances. Things simply aren’t as black and white as that. There are financial incentives other than money-hats that might appeal to a developer or publisher. A strong global distribution network can mean more (and do more) than a fat cheque.

    Also: I wonder how many headlines Pat’s going to milk out of his GDC interview. I’d also like to see the questions that prompted these statements as the way they’re written does a lot to imply they come out of the blue – which I’m not convinced of. Let’s have a little more transparency eh Pat?

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Blerk

    Microsoft seem to have purposely sold off most of their internal teams in the last year or so, though – I can’t imagine that this was an accident, so it must be some kind of plan.

    Perhaps they surmise that it’s cheaper and less risky to hire teams for individual projects than it is to have a bunch of people on the payroll who may or may not be coming up with the goods.

    I guess only time will tell if that gamble pays off or not. Some of the teams they’ve sold off or disbanded have been top-notch talent, too. Quite why they’d ever let them go, I have no idea.

    #15 6 years ago
  16. CastellanSpandrell

    Oh Christ!
    Koller has a point but it’s paying dividends for MS. Let’s just leave it at that, eh?

    #16 6 years ago
  17. onyxbox

    “I guess only time will tell if that gamble pays off or not. Some of the teams they’ve sold off or disbanded have been top-notch talent, too. Quite why they’d ever let them go, I have no idea.”

    I agree, right now it’s hard to predict that one but at the moment I think they made that move too soon. 360 isn’t quite established enough yet. Same goes for Sony… It’s just too soon for either of them to sit back and let the 3rd parties do the work but it looks like that’s what MS are choosing to do.

    Time will tell.

    #17 6 years ago
  18. Tonka

    Makes sense to put development in the out house during times of crisis.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Shatner


    #19 6 years ago
  20. Psychotext

    That vid started a little late… it was actually “Outsourced developers, developers, developers…”

    #20 6 years ago
  21. Shatner


    I love that vid. It’s awesome.

    #21 6 years ago
  22. Tonka

    They can still be about developers. Whether they are in or out house they are still developers. The big thumb in the eye is the 360 itself. But that is turning out nicely. A few more extended warranties and an unexpected HDDVD comeback and it will be a dream machine.

    #22 6 years ago
  23. Tiger Walts

    It’s safer to buy exclusivity than to have blind faith in first party stuff when it comes down to fighting for market share. Also, once you’ve built a franchise on a console, the market share for any multi-platform sequels will be heavily biased toward that console. Sounds like MS are a bit better at risk management (when it comes to software), and Sony have sour grapes about it because it’s pinching sales. Maybe if Sony put some effort into garnering 3rd party support they wouldn’t have to rely on the big first party titles.

    #23 6 years ago
  24. Seraphemz

    I love how before this year all the 360 fans made fun of SONY fans because they always said wait for this or just wait for that, and now 360 fans are saying “wait for E3″

    E3 is in June, how many games do you all really think that Microsoft is going to release in the last 6 months of the year ?? When in 08 they only released like 4 top games in the entire year…

    #24 6 years ago

    The difference is that S0N¥ fanboys have been saying:

    “We might be in teh THUrd place now, but just wait until [insert 'next big thing' here] comes out… It will shift units, and teh PS3 will win teh konsoul worz!!!”

    Meanwhile, 360 owners have been playing their killer apps that have already shifted millions of units and are in a position to ask for a second helping…

    #25 6 years ago
  26. Gekidami

    And by the looks of it 360 fanboys will be waiting along time for that second helping.

    #26 6 years ago
  27. Michael O'Connor

    “I love how before this year all the 360 fans made fun of SONY fans because they always said wait for this or just wait for that”

    That’s because for most of 2007 and 2008, the PS3 *did* have a shoddy selection of first-party titles compared to the 360. The 360 was completely trampling over it in that respect.

    Now, in 2009, the PS3′s first party / exclusive line-up is trampling over the 360. Only a 360 fanboy could deny that. But that’s a moot point; Microsoft admitted *months* ago that they wanted to focus more on exclusive publishing deals than first party, in-house game development.

    Of course, I just save myself the trouble of all this petty console war bollocks by owning both, so it’s no skin off my back.

    What Konnick says *is* factually correct; the problem with his comments is the degrading assumption that having stronger first-party development somehow makes them better.

    #27 6 years ago
  28. Seraphemz

    Great point Gekidami.

    Michael – I would have to say that having first party development does make them better. Because it guarantees that the games will be 100% exclusive to the system.

    All microsoft is doing is either buying time, or DLC. And honestly DLC isnt going to sway me to buy one CONSOLE over the other.

    #28 6 years ago

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