It was a simple enough statement. Georges Fornay, president of Sony Computer Entertainment France simply stated, "As far as Final Fantasy XIII goes, I can tell you that the exclusivity is in discussion." This came in the wake of the loss of Devil May Cry PS3 exclusivity. It followed the same multiplatform path as a handful of other games including Virtua Fighter 5 and Grand Theft Auto IV. How big of an issue is exclusivity for third party titles these days anyway? "Huge" would be the word you're looking for.
It is no secret that the PlayStation 3 is lacking at the moment. It has had no system-selling games let alone major RPGs. Backwards compatibility has been majorly cut in Europe and will likely be cut in upcoming models elsewhere. The NDP system sales numbers for February had the PS3 coming in behind every system except the GameCube and the original Xbox. This means that even the Game Boy Advance outsold this next gen system. Topping all of this is the European launch that just took place. The turnout was so poor that Sony started offering free flat screen TVs to get people in line to buy PS3s. I'm not stating all of this to bash the PS3, but to show that Sony's system is hurting. It needs something major to make it make it stand out other than bad press and a high price tag. That key factor has been exclusive games, mainly third party titles. Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Metal Gear Solid 4 are the big titles still left in Sony's pocket.
Throughout many internet communities I've seen comments similar to this: "FFXIII alone is enough to make me shell out the big money for a PS3." Such loyalty has been built within the RPG realm that people would spend over $600 to play one game. The PlayStation 3 needs Final Fantasy XIII and it needs to be exclusive. I don't think there is any danger of Final Fantasy XIII not showing up on the PS3. The problem is exclusivity. With so many third parties wanting to make the most of sales opportunities by going multiplatform, Square Enix has to be thinking about it. It is "in discussion" after all. Square Enix doesn't hold all of the power in this game, as other third parties like Konami with their Metal Gear Solid series have a major stake in things as well, but they do hold a major trump card.
What benefit would Square Enix have in making Final Fantasy XIII exclusive at this point? Sure, the Xbox 360 is not doing extremely well in Japan, but the addition of Final Fantasy XIII along with Mistwalker's Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey could help things. Plus, the 360 has a large hold on North America where the PS3 is struggling. So, what would be the point of placing your flagship game only on one system? It will take Sony waving a ton of little green flags in front of Square Enix, because the potential sales upon going multiplatform would be amazing. Unless Square Enix wants to be the savior of Sony and be the top name on that system, I just don't see a reason to stay solely with them. I can understand maybe giving Sony an exclusivity window, but I can't see Square Enix looking to the PS3 as the only option. If we find out that the White Engine being used to develop Final Fantasy XIII truly is portable to other systems, then the sky will likely darken a little more over Sony headquarters.
Gone are the days when a series is guaranteed to stay with one system out of loyalty. Dragon Quest bringing the series back to Nintendo with Dragon Quest IX instead of sticking with Sony hardware was just one of the first shockers. If Final Fantasy XIII does jump on the multiplatform bandwagon, then surely the internet will explode. It could well be the first sign of the end, the end for Sony and the PlayStation 3. Only time and Square Enix will tell.