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Why first-party video games matter

Microsoft is planning to acquire game developer BigPark to bolster its lineup of exclusive games. Exclusivity is a contributing factor to console maker success.

Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is getting exclusive content through Microsoft's acquisition of BigPark. Microsoft

Microsoft announced last week that it plans to acquire video game developer BigPark for an undisclosed sum. According to the company, BigPark will become part of Microsoft Game Studios. Its developers will "work on exclusive titles" for the Xbox 360.

Exclusivity has almost gone missing in the video game industry in recent years. Today, the game space is characterized by high development costs and multiplatform titles. It's practically impossible for most third-party game developers to offer their games on just one console, if they want to turn a profit. Because of that, console game libraries (especially the Xbox 360's and the PlayStation 3's) are looking increasingly similar.

Microsoft's intended acquisition of BigPark is an important step for the company. It gives the software giant more opportunities to create titles for its game platform that consumers won't be able to find elsewhere. It adds another developer to its team, and it helps Microsoft invest in more first-party franchises.

One of the best ways to differentiate a product in the video game industry is through first-party video games. When consumers go to a game store with a finite amount of cash, they need to decide between the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360, or the PlayStation 3. Features like Blu-ray disc compatibility, motion control, or online gaming will play into that decision. But besides price, it's the console's library of games that will weigh most heavily in their purchase.

The more compelling the first-party titles, the greater the chances that the console will attract consumers.

Perhaps they're Halo fans. Or maybe they love Mario. Whichever platform has top-notch exclusive titles--which in today's environment are increasingly becoming only first-party games--will have a better chance of winning the customer's business. The more compelling the first-party titles, the greater the chances that the console will attract consumers.

Nintendo is the leader when it comes to first-party titles. Its franchises--Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, and others--have proven to be extremely profitable for the company. But when you look at first-party games on Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3, there's no comparison to Nintendo.

BigPark's Microsoft-exclusive titles could make the Xbox 360 become a must-have for some, thanks to this acquisition. It gives Microsoft an advantage. And in the game industry, every little advantage counts.

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