Sony’s Scott Steinberg was recently quoted at GameDaily Biz as saying that the 360-exclusive downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV wasn’t going to be a big deal. My first inclination was to say that the man was smoking crack, but after further thought… I’m not too sure.
Pretty much anybody who’s anybody is going to play this game at some point, but since it’s going to be available on both PS3 and 360, that negates its potential status as a single-handed system-seller.
Then take into account that the downloadable content in question will not be available immediately (not to mention, it’s not exactly clear whether or not the small fortune Microsoft paid for the exclusive rights will guarantee that it’s exclusive forever) and I’m not too convinced that anyone who already owns a PS3 but not a 360 will refrain from picking up the game based on the knowledge that some sort of content will be coming to the opposition's box at some point in the future. It's a lot easier to drop $60 and say "oh well" than it is to save up a few hundred and buy a second console.
For people like me who have the choice to play on either the PS3 or the 360, the choice is a simple one; Since I don’t perceive the PS3 as having any real technical edge over the 360, and since the PS3’s online experience is complete crap, and since Live is as smooth as silk to use, and since I enjoy going for Achievements, and since I would most definitely download additional content when it’s offered, I’ll be going 360, no question.
However, I’m sure that the percentage of people who are in my same situation are probably a very small percentage of the overall market… it’s doubtful that we’d swing the pendulum very far in either direction, so while Microsoft’s decision to secure future download content is just fine with me, in all likelihood I would’ve bought the 360 version anyway. I imagine that other multi-console homes would likely do the same, for similar reasons.
Another thing to think about is that by the time the downloadable content is available, GTA IV’s status as the “it” game may have cooled down substantially to the point that an additional scenario may not matter that much to people who are already done with it by that point.
I will admit that I’m a big fan of add-ons that give me a reason to dig out old discs… I did it for Overlord and for Mass Effect, and I imagine that I’d do it for GTA IV too. Hell, I'd do it for Viva Pinata if Rare offered a new animal or two.
I guess in the end, it remains to be seen what exactly it was that Microsoft paid all this money for.
Will the sum earned by downloading this content from Xbox Live make up for the fortune they spent? Probably not… Will it guarantee them a stronger position in terms of console sales? I doubt it. They’ve got bragging rights for sure, but add-ons are a new territory for consoles and I think that this is more a gamble on Microsoft’s part than an educated strategic maneuver, even with the juggernaut that is GTA.
It’s definitely something to chew on…
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