Sony's Rob Dyer recently voiced his strong opinion that Microsoft is "protecting an inferior technology," and that's why the company's content submission and release policy appears to be so restrictive for developers and publishers. Analysts IndustryGamers spoke with aren't all that surprised by Microsoft's policy, and one did note to us that Microsoft is afraid of seeing games look better on PS3.
"My take is that video game console manufacturers have always been closed systems and there is a tendency for the manufacturer to protect its edge as aggressively as possible. Both Sony and Nintendo have taken aggressive policies to protect their market lead against would be up-and-comers. In the case of the Xbox 360 it is an older system and clearly there are concerns about content looking better on the PS3," commented David Cole of DFC Intelligence.
"I definitely believe Sony is in the right to at least express these concerns to the industry, but I do not blame Microsoft for having these policies." - Jesse Divnich, EEDAR
"But at the end of the day the market will decide. If good content starts showing up on the PS3 but not on the Xbox 360, consumers are likely to balk. So it is really a balancing act for Microsoft," he added.
Jesse Divnich of EEDAR agrees that it only makes sense for console manufacturers to come up with policies that are in their best interests. That said, he understands why Sony would be frustrated by it.
"These types of policies are very much the norm with content distributors (and physical retailers). Microsoft is the current leader in HD game distribution, so it is only natural that we would see the market leader implement policies that continue to give themselves a competitive advantage," Divnich noted.
"That being said, these policies are not absolute as we have seen many games release with 'exclusive' content available on non-Microsoft platforms. I am sure Microsoft takes things on a case-by-case basis to maximize the value they provide to their consumers," he continued. "I definitely believe Sony is in the right to at least express these concerns to the industry, but I do not blame Microsoft for having these policies, which are optionally enforceable, in place. And while Sony may chagrin, I do believe that conflicts like these ultimately result in new business strategies that enrich the consumer experience."
Unfortunately for Sony, from a practical business standpoint, publishers are going to cater to the lowest common denominator, which among high-definition consoles would likely be assigned to Xbox 360. So even if a developer would like to leverage certain PS3 features, it's often easier to just create the game for Microsoft's system, notes Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter.
"As a practical matter, devs don't often make multi-platform games that have different content for each platform. It just doesn't make sense to build a game bigger than the 360 can handle. This is just competition, and I doubt many (if any) publishers care," he remarked, adding: "Plus, why can't games be on 2 DVDs? I don't think that is a constraint."
What do you think? Is Microsoft wrong to insist on parity among releases, or is it just smart business sense?