Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 10:00 UK

Exclusive games go multi-platform

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, Los Angeles

Metal Gear Solid 4
Microsoft gaining Playstation title Metal Gear Solid surprised many

Among Microsoft's announcements of new video game controllers, HD video streaming, and joined up social networking was the news that Playstation games Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid would also now be available on the Xbox 360.

The latter came as a surprise to many, because the next title will be a whole new game featuring a character from the Metal Gear series called Raiden, rather than the anticipated port of the previous game Metal Gear Solid 4.

They join an ever-growing list of titles that were once the sole domain of the PlayStation, such as Grand Theft Auto and Assassins Creed.

John Schappert, corporate vice president of Xbox Live, told the BBC that the firm now had access to almost every big game series in town.

"The Metal Gear Solid franchise was the last franchise that we were really truly looking to get on board.

"We've got the best games and we've got all the franchises that might have started their lives on other consoles coming to the 360."

Open market

Screen shot from Halo 3
Games such as Halo remain exclusives

However, both Microsoft and Sony still make a fuss of titles they do have an exclusive basis.

Halo 3 ODST and the forthcoming Halo Reach - due out in 2010 - are both Xbox exclusives, as are a number of other titles Microsoft announced, such as Forza Motorsport 3 and Alan Wake.

Of course, Microsoft does not have it all its own way.

Gran Turismo and God of War are both still Sony exclusives and the forthcoming Ghostbusters title will be PlayStation only in Europe.

Piers Harding-Rolls - senior analyst with Screen Digest - said the more open market was changing the way developers did business.

"When the PlayStation 2 was the dominant platform, it was less of an issue for developers to tie up an exclusive deal.

"Today developers want to maximise their sales and that means making a game to go out on all platforms," he said.

"There is no denying that Microsoft has done well in improving its relationship with third party developers and the Metal Gear Solid announcement is another notch on the old bedpost."

MMO for console?

There is one part of the market that none of the console manufacturers have managed to crack and that is massive multiplayer online (MMO) games.

Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft is a MMO role playing game for PC and Mac that has over eight million subscribers bringing in the firm an estimated £80m in revenue every month.

"In the past Microsoft has been stung in the MMO space," said Mr Harding-Rolls.

"Sony is a bit more advanced here, although they do own SOE (the developers of MMO's EverQuest II and Star Wars Galaxies) which gives them something of an advantage."

It remains to be seen if Sony or Nintendo will announce a console based MMO during this years E3 expo. For now it seems this is one area Microsoft is steering clear of.

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