DUST PS3 Exclusive

I've given the announcement yesterday by CCP that Dust (the upcoming console based Eve themed first-person shooter) would be available only on the PlayStation platform some thought.  And honestly, unlike many early commenters, I think it makes perfect sense.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I think that:

• Development - It is far easier and cheaper to develop for one platform than two.  This comes down to investment and for a start-up console developer like CCP, this is an important consideration.  Mix into that decision the fact that the PS3 platform is easier to develop for than the XBox and you have a decision that almost gets made for you.

• Back-End Profits - I don't pretend to know all the details here, but from what I've been able to find out from other console developers, the potential back-end profits on the Sony platform - which mostly come from a more open minded corporate culture and rules when it comes to on-line compatability (an important issue when you are trying to tie two things together) may have made the Sony platform much more "potentially" profitable.

• Asia - As much as the XBox holds a grip on certain demographics here in the US, the PS3 holds a much greater hold on the all-important emergent Asian market.  In much of Asia the XBox isn't even a consideration.  If I was advising CCP this would have played an extremely important part in this decision.

• Cross-Marketing - From what I know about the Demographics, and I do that sorta thing for a living, the XBox user and PS3 user typically come from completely different demographic bases.  The supposition would be that offering the same exclusive deal with XBox would have resulted in mining the same camp that currently already plays Eve.  Introducing a thematically common universe into a camp that has no current knowledge of your prime product would be hard to pass up.  This boils down to, "Hey this is cool, what else do they do?"  Expanded subscription base.

• Support - Making the game exclusive would also mean expanded support from Sony.  This support probably takes many forms, financial, marketing, expertise, etc.  Given Sony's recent issues with their network I'd say they are very, very interested in a new franchise potential that brings users back to the network.  For a young console developer like CCP this support, especially in marketing and advertising co-op dollars would be impossible to pass up and could have easily been the deciding factor.

I happen to own both systems, so I don't have a dog in this fight.  But looking at this from a purely business perspective it makes sense.  

Even with all of the above, many challenges exist.  For one, the PS3 audience (while different from the XBox audience) might not be as accepting of an unknown entity entering a niche that is already well represented.  If DUST can't find its audience fast enough it could be on shelves and forgotten inside of three months.  The interesting thing however, even if it succeeds, the life-span for console games is extremely short.

Should be interesting to watch this new venture develop.