Playdead’s Limbo took the indie world by storm when it launched on Xbox Live back in 2010, but Sony could have had the game on PSN before it went to any other platforms. Instead, Limbo was exclusive to Xbox Live Arcade for an entire year before it became available on PSN and PC, and even though the game sold well on PSN when it finally did arrive, that period of exclusivity would have netted many more sales. So, why didn’t Limbo hit PSN before any of the other platforms? It’s because Sony botched the deal.
“I maybe shouldn’t say this, but we had issues when we were trying to sign Limbo because of the IP,” said Sony Computer Entertainment executive producer Pete Smith during a talk about pitching a game to publishers at the Develop Conference. Apparently, Sony was in talks with Playdead to bring Limbo to PSN first, but when Sony said that it wanted the rights to the IP, Playdead went to Microsoft instead. Limbo went on to sell 300,000 in its first month on Xbox Live and 500,000 by the end of 2010, long before the game arrived on PSN.
Still, despite losing the exclusivity deal to Microsoft, Smith says that there are benefits to giving up the IP when you have a game you want to see made. “There are obvious benefits to keeping it, but also to giving it up: you’re way more likely to get the deal,” he said. “Remember: 100 per cent of nothing is nothing. A publisher is much more likely to commit to marketing and merchandising if they own the IP.”
This whole admission from Sony makes you wonder how things might have changed if Playdead had given up the rights to Limbo and released on PSN first. Would we have another Limbo title already? Would it have sold more being exclusive to PSN, or less? We’ll never know the answers to those questions, but given the immense popularity Limbo has experienced since release, we doubt that the folks at Playdead care much anyway.