During the Sony press conference on June 10 at E3 2013, the long-anticipated game Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced. A short teaser was shown, and the game’s director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed that it would be exclusive to the PlayStation 4. This revelation gave a serious boost to the console’s game profile, and this exclusivity combined with the potential found in Disney’s (the franchise’s owner) newly expanded universe, offers the PlayStation 4 an early edge in the next-generation console wars.
An Established Fan Base
The Kingdom Hearts franchise has enjoyed wild popularity since the release of the original in 2002, and Kingdom Hearts 2 only accelerated this momentum. Only a month after its release in December 2005, it had already sold one million copies. During March of 2006, KH2 was reported as the highest-selling game in North America, and to date, it has sold over 4 million copies. Together, the first two were Gamestop’s best sellers ever for the PS2, and gamers have been eagerly anticipating Kingdom Hearts 3 since 2006.
The Kingdom Hearts games offer a unique blend of beloved Disney characters interacting within a new universe developed by Square Enix, the creator of the acclaimed Final Fantasy franchise. And while Disney’s appetite for gobbling up creative universes may harken the behavior of the planet-eating Marvel character Galactus (also under Disney control), the possibilities of seeing Marvel, Pixar, or Star Wars characters or settings in KH3 are enticing as well. Nomura has expressed interest in combining these universes, but it is ultimately Disney’s choice whether to allow it. If so, the PS4’s hardware offers tremendous potential for developers to create realistic AI to enable characters that are as true to the source as possible. Imagine Sora teaming up with Iron Man on Coruscant – the possibilities are endless.
The Power of Exclusivity
Sony is already winning the publicity war against its major rival Microsoft, and its brand loyalty among many gamers gives it an additional edge. But when gamers still on the fence decide between next generation consoles, a console’s library of exclusives, particularly those announced early in the console’s life cycle could tip the balance in favor of the PS4.
With more than eleven years of momentum behind it and millions of sales already, the Kingdom Hearts franchise has proved its long-lasting popularity, and its new installment will likely result in a yet another explosion of sales. Disney’s control over some of the most popular media brands allows for unsurpassed creative possibilities, and the hardware of the next generation consoles will likely allow developers to achieve their own vision. And, exclusively published for Sony, the potential inherent in KH3 may just give the PS4 the boost it needs to get an early start on winning the console wars.
Update (June 21, 2013): Shortly following the announcement of KH3’s exclusivity, Square Enix noted that it will NOT be a PS4 exclusive, but will also be published for the Xbox One. Pokemon cards