Sony has called out Microsoft for “writing checks” to ensure platform exclusivity but Rod Fergusson of Epic Games claims that focusing on the Xbox 360 has helped make Gears of War the best game it can possibly be.
Microsoft is forced to pay out considerable sums of money to developers to keep certain products exclusive to the Xbox 360, John Koller of Sony Computer Entertainment America said, because the company has doubts about its own ability to deliver compelling first-party software. “Microsoft has had a much more lenient policy to writing checks than we do,” he said. “We don’t feel the need to write checks 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.”
The Lost and Damned, the first DLC for Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV, is available exclusively for the Xbox 360. The expansion is estimated to have sold around one million copies since it was released in February.
“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 checks about how they feel about their own internal line-up,” Koller added.
But while Microsoft may be “writing checks,” Gears of War Senior Producer Rod Fergusson said staying exclusive to the Xbox 360 was ultimately beneficial to the development of the Gears of War franchise. “Microsoft is just an awesome publisher. They’re a great partner for us,” he said. “They help us in so many ways, both in terms of the obvious with marketing support, and also in terms of usability, tested, play-testing, design reviews, support on the art side and a whole bunch of different things.”
Fergusson said developing Gears as a 360 exclusive was a “tax” Epic paid in order to gain the benefits of working closely with Microsoft, but added that being on a single platform let Epic “focus [its] efforts in terms of development.”
“UE3 runs great on PC, it runs great on PS3 and 360 as well, but for us as a team it allows us to focus and make the best game we can for that one particular platform, which has been great,” he said. “I think it has helped the IP from that perspective as we’ve been focused on creating the best game possible.”