Tecmo circumvents exclusive deal with Microsoft for Xbox 360

March 18, 2009

Tecmo circumvents exclusive deal with Microsoft for Xbox 360 In the world of video gaming, exclusives mean life or death to some fanboys out there. The issue wasn’t a hot topic last generation, but for some reason it has set the Internet ablaze this generation. Many believe that once an exclusive is signed it is an iron-clad deal, but Tecmo proves that there are loop-holes to getting around these exclusive contracts.

I remember the bittersweet rivalry of the Sega Genesis and the SNES back in the day. Gamers argued that the Genesis was better due to graphics, while others argued that the SNES had better games. In the end better games did prove to be the deciding factor for the SNES.

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Today, console manufacturer’s are foaming at the mouth fighting over console exclusives. Sony has probably lost the most “potential” exclusive deals because of the company’s strict no-payment for exclusive policy.  The company lost the opportunity to tie up some of the biggest titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Final Fantasy XIII. Read my previous coverage on how Sony turned down an exclusive deal from Take-Two here.

However, it seems that the once thought iron-clad exclusive contract with Microsoft is not so iron-clad. In the gaming industry it is rare to see a game being published by a manufacturer turn up on the competitor’s system. This is like if LittleBigPlanet or Resistance turned up on the Xbox 360. This is exactly what has happened with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

Console manufacturers sign a binding contract to pay for the marketing and manufacturing costs of the studio’s game in exchange for an indefinite exclusive deal with the studio. Microsoft has done this by paying for the big budget marketing push and the manufacturing costs for Ninja Gaiden 2.

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As per contract, Tecmo is not allowed to release Ninja Gaiden 2 on the PS3, but can release any other iteration of the series on any platform since Tecmo owns the Ninja Gaiden IP. This is similar to how EPIC Games owns the Gears of War IP, as Mark Rein VP clarified when he stated, “Epic owns Gears of War.”

However, Tecmo did something a bit crafty to circumvent the exclusivity deal with Microsoft. The company rebuilt Ninja Gaiden 2 on the Sigma engine and improved it enough to classify it as a “remake” for the PS3. Technically, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a whole new game on paper.

Could this open new doors for other exclusives locked down on each of the platforms? I suppose any of the third party PS3 exclusives could jump ship at will since Sony doesn’t seem to utilize contracts to keep them intact. However, it would be interesting to see “Gears of War: Locust” or “Mass Effect: Eclipse” on the PS3 one day.


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