After a long morning of trying to explain the complicated nature of the Titanfall deal I decided I would just try to condense it all to one spot where I can hopefully flesh it out better. This isn’t conjecture on my part (unless specifically noted) , this is info conveyed to me from a number of sources that I trust. Whether you believe it or not is up to you. Also, I’m typing this on a phone so please bear with me.
Q. Why is Titanfall 1 exclusive to Microsoft on consoles?
A. Respawn was formed after Zampella and West left Infinity Ward/Activision because of “creative differences.” There’s a long and amazing story here that I hope I get to share one day but the main point for Respawn was to be small and independent. They want to make amazing games, of course, but they already knew the downside of being a cog in a AAA machine.
They signed with EA Partners which gave them complete ownership of the IP. Being a small studio they decided to focus on one next gen console and the PC. At the time they decided this they instructed EA to sign an one year exclusivity offer with Microsoft. Microsoft was behind the scenes selling publishers on their vision of the Xbox One. I’m talking about 2011/12. Sony was gathering info from third parties as to what they would want but they weren’t sharing their vision yet.
At this point in time the majority of the videogame industry thought the XB1 was going to dominate the next generation. The 360 was already widely popular in North America and Western Europe which is also where the FPS genre is the most successful. Signing a year exclusivity deal was a no brainer at the time.
EA hired Bluepoint to do the xbox 360 port. EA was also in charge of ports to other platforms when the time came. Respawn wanted to focus solely on the xbox one and pc and let EA worry about the ports.
Q. So why did EA sell lifetime exclusivity of Titanfall 1 to Microsoft?
A. Several reasons. First off it’s money made now and EA’s stock needs a boost. Secondly there is no guarantee a year old port would sell well on the ps4. By that point a new cod and bf will be out and may have surpassed Titanfall.
Q. Can a game of the year version of Titanfall come out on the ps4?
A. Conjecture here but I can’t imagine Microsoft paying for exclusivity that is so easily bypassed. No one has ever hinted to me that this would be a possibility either.
Q. What’s to stop Microsoft from buying exclusivity again?
A. Respawn. It is entirely up to them. They own the IP and as far as I understand it there is no deal in place with anyone, be it EA, MS, or any other publisher for Titanfall 2. If they want to go exclusive they can choose to. My conjecture is that signing a deal like that with Activision(with call of duty) would make them shy away from it now. I believe that Respawn values their independence. And now that they almost have their first hit out the door they are looking to widen the scope and sales, not contain them.
Q. What if Microsoft throws a completely insane amount of money at them?
A. Only Vince Zampella can answer that question. I would point out that he is already pretty damn rich though. Money *may not* have the sway on him that it would on other studio heads.
Q. What do you think is going to happen?
A. I think the game will sell well. I think Respawn will sign with EA to publish Titanfall 2 and I think in that deal Respawn will be in charge of the ports, not EA. I expect it on the PC, xb1, and ps4.
Q. Why sign with EA again when it was pretty clear that Vince Zampella was upset that EA sold their port rights for Microsoft exclusivity?
A. Familiarity. They obviously wouldn’t sign with Activision. So that leaves 2k or Ubisoft if they want to stay third party. Starting over and learning how a new publisher works, getting to know all their people, etc, takes a lot of time. If they can get the deal they want from EA I believe they will take it. EA has absolutely zero reason to not offer them that deal as well. Respawn is in the driver’s seat here.
Q. Could you be wrong?
A. Wouldn’t be the first time. But I dont believe so, no.