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.


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.


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.

37 Responses to “Tecmo circumvents exclusive deal with Microsoft for Xbox 360”

  1. harry sachz:

    I played that game last year. Not bad at all. Have fun with it when it comes out, in around 6 months I believe. By that time the game would be 18 months old already.

    I can’t see Tecmo recouping the losses in converting the game to PS3 when it eventually drops, similar to how Bioshock only sold a fraction of what it did on the 360. Anyway, good luck to them, let’s hope this move doesn’t send them bankrupt.

  2. darkwhitehair:

    well Ninja Gaiden 2 didnt sell as much as I thought it would… this would hold me over till god of war 3…

    Im excited… I usually dont play hard games like this… please let there be a mass effect 2 on ps3… please…

    this wouldnt have happened if itagaki was still with tecmo… he liked the 360 more than the ps3…

    xtreme beach volleyball 3 on ps3? maybe…

  3. yamumsawersome:

    ninja gaiden 2 sold verry poorly wich was dissapointing because i loved the game.
    we have so many FPS so many TPS so many RPG.
    but what were realy missing are

    platformers what are there basicly ratchet and clank and uncharted thats it.
    survival horrors theres a few series out there but bar dead space how many good survival horrors have been released in the last 2 years.

    and most importantly sword fighting games.
    back in the day you had ninja and sword fighting games galore, now we have ninja gaiden and DMC and GOW wich is a mix and thats it.
    theres more FPS than action games, stealth games, platforming games, racing games, sword fighting games and survival horror games put together.
    shure i love FPS but its getting kind of old i want a variety of games.
    not different flavours of FPS

  4. chillyfish:

    Heh. Oh blorge, when will you ever learn?

    The alternate motive for “remaking” the game could be to distance it from its namesake which bombed on xbox.

    Tecmo dust it off, give it a few “giant boss battles” and sell their failed IP to PS3 fans, who are used to taking 360′s slops*.


    An Australian term meaning to have sex with a girl immediately after someone else.
    “You screw her first, I’ll take slops.”

  5. Spideydog:

    Sloppy Seconds …. lol

  6. Happyhockum:

    I suspect that anyone who really did cynically ‘circumvent’ an exclusivity deal in the way you imply would find they just had the last ride on the Microsoft gravy train.

    There are now close to 30 million 360 owners to be selling to.

    I’d suggest that a relatively small game company trying to smart-a$$ & out-manoeuvre Microsoft would be a very foolish one-time game to play.
    They’re one company it’s probably best not to pick avoidable fights with.

  7. phranctoast:

    I wouldn’t go far enough to call it “slops”.(thanks for the explanation, although we all didn’t just turn 15 yesterday… Happy birthday)

    The girl matured from an acne riddled boozer to a respectable young woman in the 18 months she had the time to grow up. Now her self confidence is high enough where she doesn’t feel the need to associate with losers.

    I would hardly call the Ninja Gaiden series a failed IP. Theres a reason MS jumped in a bought the game as an exclusive.

  8. ncaissie:

    We call that “sloppy seconds” here in Canada.
    The game received a great review on Reviews on the run.
    It was on just last night.

  9. lock_down:

    Hmm, what is harry getting at with the 18 month old jibe I wonder?

    Super Mario World is nearly 20 years old but still a classic.

    Though I guess we will be able to make the same jibe when MGS4 is ported to an Xbox console in the future (when they finally get into the 21st century and sport a substantial storage medium that is).

    “I’d suggest that a relatively small game company trying to smart-a$$ & out-manoeuvre Microsoft would be a very foolish one-time game to play.”

    Didn’t Capcom – a rather large company – just bring Dead Rising to the Wii? That was another “Only On 360″ game.

    “Only On 360″ clearly isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

  10. darkwhitehair:

    happy KNOWS man… he knows…

    watch out for packages with dead fishes and decapitated horse heads tecmo… youve been warned… bitches…

    I wonder what the trophies are gonna be like… also I dont want to have to pick between this and inFamous…

    Ninja Blade looks cool… but well people have been bitching about QTEs (which I like)… then again Heavy Rain is mostly QTE… then again Heavy Rain is an adventure game… goddam you wallet

  11. Barnabe Jones:

    I was amazed when I saw this yesterday. Good news though. I really enjoyed the first one. This was one of the few exclusives I was envious of. I think all that would be left is Gears… and I won’t buy a console for only two games.

  12. phranctoast:

    You shouldn’t have to pick between this an inFamous, as inFamous comes out in June and this wont see the light of day until at least Sept. Now inFamous or Ghostbusters?

  13. JofaMang:

    Reworking and updating the game exclusively for ps3 should mean a high quality product. Utilizing the PS3 architecture properly would undoubtedly propel the quality of the game far and above the 360 version.

    I was watching my wife play GTAIV last night, and in comparison to the rest of my catalogue (mostly exclusives) it really does look like a ps2 game.

    I’ll take an 18month old game superior to the original, over a dissapointing multi-plat release.

    This strategy might let Tecmo have its cake (money from M$) and eat it too (release a ps3 quality title).

    Just good business~

  14. Barnabe Jones:

    I played all the way through NG: Sigma… and I’ve seen the sequel in action also. I honestly think Sigma looked crisper.

    I’m glad they fired that douche who was in change of Team Ninja. Quantum Theory is also due in 2009. Tecmo has now started to sip the PS3 kool-aid and realizes that it is delicious!

  15. lock_down:

    “GTAIV…really does look like a ps2 game.”

    Well, hopefully next time Rockstar won’t hold the franchise back just for the sake of fitting it onto DVD9 and attempting parity between the two versions.

    Although I guess that’s why there are rumours that GTA V will be PS3 exclusive. Why should one of the most successful franchises have to suffer in size and scope because of a flaw in the 360?

  16. SW:

    Maybe its because I’m tired, but I’m finding it very hard to care about Ninja Gaiden at all.

  17. Zoar:

    No, it was the SNES that had the graphics power, not the Genesis.

    Remember, SNES had the Mode 7. Then Starfox came with the Super FX chip.

  18. jojo29:

    The difference about Sony’s IP, is, Sony owns the IP :)

  19. darkwhitehair:


    damn… well gotta start saving then… asshole publishers… taking all my money…

  20. CAD:

    Mike your wrong again. Microsoft does own the IP for Gears. Any game where Microsoft Sutdios is displayed at the begining of a game is owned by them. Ninja Giaden does not have this.

  21. Arvis:


    Not true. That means that they have publishing rights, which is not the same thing. They do not own the Intellectual Property (IP) knowns as Gears of War.


  22. phranctoast:

    Are you sure? I was under the impression that MS owned the Gears IP…. I was surprised to see Mark Rein say otherwise.

  23. Barnabe Jones:

    I’ve glanced on the web… I can’t find anything official, but most things I’m seeing point to Epic owning the IP.

  24. phranctoast:

    wiki says otherwise, but that’s hardly “official”.

  25. lock_down:

    kev has probably gone and edited it.

  26. Barnabe Jones:

    Yes… I think I see kev’s handiwork “Gears has 500 million physics calculations, compared to the 100 that Grand Turismo have…”

  27. Arvis:

    Barnabe, you just won Funniest Post of the Week.

    ….man, I’m STILL laughing! =D


  28. darkwhitehair:

    facepalm… lets get this clear once and for all people… Microsoft PUBLISHES Gears of War… Microsoft OWNS Bungie… therefore indirectly they own Halo… but BUNGIE OWNS HALO! just like EPIC OWN GEARS OF WAR!

    its the same as Sony with Uncharted and Resistance and Sly Cooper… they work with eachother… its a group effort… the developers still own the IP… I dont know about Killzone though… Sony may own Guerilla… but I heard from the kotaku podcast that it was a publishing deal with Sony…

    and you know what… its doesnt fucking matter… a shitty publisher can publish a great game… the same way Activision can sell its soul like a cheap whore…

  29. lock_down:

    Sony own Naughty Dog and the Uncharted IP…MS no longer owns Bungie but own the Halo rights…Sony own Guerrilla wholly, so why would they have a publishing deal with Sony? They had a publishing deal on Killzone 1 before they got bought out…………I’ve just bitten haven’t I?

    Who are you and what have done with DHW?

  30. darkwhitehair:

    sigh… no lock down… dammit… dude… show me the proof and Ill agree… otherwise… youre wrong and kev is right… OMG NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  31. lock_down:

    Oh what, I’ve just exonerated kev?

    This is devastating news.

    Erm, I can’t show you any proof. None. Whatsoever.

  32. Barnabe Jones:

    Arvis, Thank you. I am also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

  33. CAD:

    OK Arvis Prove it.

  34. Arvis:

    Uh… Mark Rein SAYING his company owns the IP isn’t proof enough for you, CAD?

    Go ahead and Google “Epic owns Gears IP” or something to that effect and you’ll find plenty of info on the subject.


  35. harry sachz:

    Downloaded the Ninja Blade demo yesterday. I liked it, a lot. I would recommend anyone with a 360 and internet connection (i’m looking at you, spidey) to take a look at it.

  36. Ivan_PSP:

    Epic Games can also kill Microsoft by doing what Tecmo did. Gotta love them for being so damn smart.

  37. Ivan_PSP:


    Lost Planet 2 will be running on the MT-Framework 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in several Capcom-developed games. Only an Xbox 360 version is currently at works, but other platforms are being considered.

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