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The news of Mass Effect 2 arriving on PS3 is somewhat expected since EA bought Bioware, but it’s still a bit of a surprise, since the Mass Effect series has been a staple in the Xbox 360’s lineup. With that staple now gone, does Microsoft have a chink in its armor? They sure do. Overall, the PS3 has lost many more exclusives than the 360, but this is a huge blow to the 360’s library. This would be the equivalent of those pesky Metal Gear Solid 4 going to 360 rumors being true. Really, this is worse, since Mass Effect was synonymous with the Xbox 360, while MGS has been on the Gameboy, Xbox, and GameCube. Of course, Mass Effect has been on the PC, but it has always seemed like the 360’s baby… the same goes for Gears of War.
From an exclusives standpoint, the 360’s light seems to be dimming. Bungie is gone, so there is a new internal Microsoft studio on the Halo franchise, Alan Wake and Crackdown failed this summer from a sales and quality perspective, Forza is extremely niche, Fable and Gears of War are still golden, but how many more games do those franchises have left? This highlights Microsoft’s biggest problem since coming into the video game industry… they don’t have enough internal development. Nintendo and Sony owns almost all of the studios and IPs for their big titles. Gears of War, Crackdown, Halo, Alan Wake, and Mass Effect are all done by 3rd party developers. Microsoft has the American, “I’ll pay people to do it for me” demeanor, which is okay for the short term, but not for the long term. Luckily for Microsoft, PC developers usually like the 360 better than PS3, but with Portal 2 coming out on PS3 and even Valve’s president saying it’s the best console version, that boat might be leaving too.
As someone who owns all current gen systems and plays on PC, the variety of software between all of those machines is what makes having all of them so great. This move is EA being EA, meaning they’re trying to get as much money as possible, which we shouldn’t blame a company for doing. However, Mass Effect is such a big and rich property, an alternate Mass Effect series on the PS3 is infinitely more interesting. Sure, they’re going to sell a million or two extra copies of ME2, but a new game in this universe would have set the internet on fire similar to Bioshock Infinite’s announcement. Now, we can just add this to the long list of developers lying about them not working on a port, then announcing it a few months later with fanboys yelling at each other… the forthcoming “Boycott Mass Effect 3” bumper stickers should be hilarious.
PS3 fans can rejoice, since they are now getting the best RPG of this generation. You might think that this news would also mean that ME1 is going to PS3, but that’s not the case. A Microsoft representative has said “And the original Mass Effect is absolutely an Xbox 360 exclusive, making Xbox 360 the only place to get the full Mass Effect experience”. The complete trilogy not going to PS3 does greatly hurt it, since the characters and story heavily rely on each other. However, the WRPG genre is easily one of the PS3’s weakest points, so even 2 out of 3 Mass Effects vastly boosts its standing in that regard. Microsoft is Microsoft for a reason, whether they fix their internal development problem or not, at the very least they are going to keep paying external studios to make great games for them. For their sake, I hope they manage to keep the next game exclusively on their system.