Former Xbox boss highlights Sony’s secret PS5 exclusives strategy

Former Xbox Game Pass champion and Blizzard president Mike Ybarra has shared his thoughts on what makes Sony's PS5 exclusives strategy really work.

Former Xbox boss highlights Sony’s secret PS5 exclusives strategy
Lee Brady

Lee Brady


Have you found yourself baffled by Sony's marketing decisions over the last few years? Curious why we only see some of the best PS5 games in any real detail roughly a month before they're due to launch? Well, former Microsoft exec Mike Ybarra may have shed some hard-earned Xbox insight on these questions when he discussed Sony's PS5 exclusives strategy on social media recently.

Sony "under promise and over deliver," according to Mike Ybarra

In a recent thread on X, former Blizzard president and previously Xbox Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra commended PlayStation Studios' Nixxes on their "fantastic work" porting Horizon Forbidden West over to PC. That's pretty wholesome stuff in and of itself, but it's when Ybarra was prompted by another X user to "just ask Sony for a job" that the exec shared a more interesting take on Sony's output.

Xbox PlayStation exclusivesvia X.

Ybarra wrote: "Just catching up on the backlog of games. Don’t be mad PlayStation makes bangers, celebrate it. Under promise and over deliver — exactly what they’ve done in the games department for years."

While Ybarra here is just giving his personal take on Sony's strategy when it comes to marketing and releasing its PS5 exclusives, I think there are a few telling truths hidden just beneath the surface of this comment.

After all, this is a guy who worked with Microsoft for nearly 20 years — someone who became a regular face during the Xbox platform's tricky launch of the Xbox One. Ergo, this is the internal wisdom of a man who has undoubtedly spent several years thinking on-and-off, and likely having open discussions, regarding just how Sony's PlayStation continues to be as successful as it is.
I think this logic does help explain the strange radio silence Sony has on its PS5 exclusives and why it feels like we know so little about these games even if they were announced publicly years ago. It explains how we can go from having to wonder aloud "Where is Stellar Blade?" to suddenly having hot opinions on Stellar Blade's PS5 demo in the span of just eight months when the game was announced all the way back in 2019.

For better or worse, this strategy continues to work for Sony; evidently, judging from Ybarra's comments, it's a strategy that has been working for a long time now. If I were to dig into the psychology of why I think it works, it's probably the fact that it makes every PlayStation exclusive feel like an event. Going from zero information to an abundance of social media posts detailing what we can expect from Stellar Blade's difficulty and just how flashy PS5 exclusive graphics can be — it overwhelms us and makes everything feel so urgent.

The downsides of under-promising PS5 exclusives

That said, this strategy does come with a price; one that perhaps wasn't so steep in the past. We learned from God of War Ragnarok's delayed release that a lack of information can lead to devs getting harassed online by fans who seem to be violently invested in the PS5 hype cycle.
Plus, it leaves Sony's future exclusive lineup looking exceptionally bare when it takes an extra-long time to find out that its audience might be more picky about live-service games going forward.

All this to say that Ybarra certainly seems on to something here, but it makes one wonder just how much further Sony's lack of promises can go in an age where canceling a game costs more than ever and social media contains more bottled rage than ever before. Perhaps, at this point, it would behoove the company to trickle down a drop more information about what PS5 users have to look forward to — at least enough to let its staff rest a little easier.

Plus, I'd certainly like to hear a little more about what upcoming PS5 games we have to look forward to in late 2024 and beyond. What do you think of Ybarra's take on Sony's marketing strategy? Would you like to see Sony change how it reveals its PS5 exclusives, or do you like how things work right now? Let us know down in the comments below.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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