The Xbox One exclusive lineup this holiday will miss Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, and the canceled Scalebound but Microsoft is making sure it secures PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds to help fill the void. The company announced a partnership Sunday with developer Bluehole, Inc at Gamescom that comes across similar to the timed exclusivity arrangement for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Microsoft will publish PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds(PUBG) for the Xbox One and will use the partnership to ensure the game launches for the console before the end of 2017. The early access battle royale shooter is currently targeting a fourth quarter official release for the PC and will hit the Xbox One Game Preview Program around the same time.
This does not guarantee PUBG will stay exclusive to the Xbox One on consoles. It will likely come to the PlayStation 4 later in 2018. Instead, the publishing partnership gives Bluehole additional development support to ensure the game releases for Microsoft's console and will also get assistance with sales, marketing, and publishing.
The development support is the key bit as Bluehole is a relatively small game studio, which can make developing for multiple platforms tricky. Additionally, large open-world games running on the Unreal Engine 4, like ARK: Survival Evolved and Conan Exiles, have been especially challenging on the base Xbox One. Any help Microsoft can provide to get the shooter running as smoothly as possible during the Game Preview launch while looking adequate will be appreciated.
This PUBG publishing partnership is very close to the same arrangement Microsoft made with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics for the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015. There was confusion on whether it would be an Xbox One exclusive due to executives from both companies obfuscating on the point. It was eventually ferreted out that the latest Lara Croft action-adventure title would hit the PlayStation 4 almost a year later.
Microsoft was heavily criticized for the making the entire game a timed exclusive and similar criticism is being bandied about now. However, PUBG was always going to hit the Xbox One first due to the PlayStation 4 not having an early access program like Game Preview. The partnership announced Sunday seems more like the company ensuring the PUBG console launch happens this holiday and not in early 2018.
PUBG took off like a rocket when in March when it launched for the PC via Steam Early Access. The 100-player battle royale shooter was bolstered by a community of streamers and has now sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
[Featured Image by Bluehole, Inc/Microsoft]