I really like first party games, specifically: The Last of Us and the Uncharted series. However, while I realize their validity as a marketing tool, I wonder whether first party games don’t do more harm to the video game ecosystem than good. For anyone that isn’t familiar with the term, a first party game is one produced in-house by a studio that works for one of the companies manufacturing consoles. It is reasonable to say that a great deal of a console’s appeal lies in its first party exclusives. Admittedly there are a few third party games that release only for a single console, but more often it’s merely a timed exclusive, e.g. “Play it first on Xbox.”
At this point, it becomes highly questionable how much difference there is between the consoles, if you take away their exclusives. Admittedly, this is more of a consideration for the XBox One and the PS4. The Wii U has done some catching up compared to the underpowered Wii and its 480p max resolution. But it’s still a relatively underpowered console that’s more comparable to the hardware of the PS3 and the XBox 360. It’s possible that this isn’t a negative though, because apart from raw power, it does have unique features (e.g. the gamepad) and to return back to the main point, a host of appealing first party games: Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, and an upcoming Zelda game.
The PS4 and the XBox One on the other hand, are incredibly comparable systems. Even though their prices have remained in flux, they’re technically worth about the same $400 (not accounting for deals or the Kinect). They both have Blu Ray drives and their maximum resolution is 1080p. Furthermore, their RAM, processor specs, and hard drive capacity are the same. Therefore, there isn’t much beyond their game offerings to set them apart. But while both have interesting and diverse game libraries, I believe there’s far more to gain from making the machines themselves varied and unique. In market where every competitor is moving towards the same singularity, there’s very little motivation for innovative competition, and it becomes a game of mirroring.
I believe that first party games are an enabling factor in this process, as they are one of the final bastions a console can claim as a unique selling point. While I doubt such a thing would ever happen, it would be interesting to see whether abolishing console specific titles, and producing every game to be multi-platform would encourage more innovation on the hardware side future consoles.
How does everyone else feel? Are first party games an important part of the video game sphere? Or are they a blight upon its innovation?