The Problem with Video Game Exclusives

We’ve all seen the conferences at E3 when the time for new console generations rolls around. We hear the “Exclusively on Xbox One” or “Exclusively on PlayStation 4” speech that is designed to make one console or the other seem more interesting. Exclusivity in video games has been around for ages, but there are some problems with video game exclusives that people aren’t noticing.

Take Titanfall for instance. While it won numerous awards, it suffered because it was a Microsoft exclusive; if you ask a PlayStation 4 owner about Titanfall, odds are that you’ll get the answer, “Isn’t that the Xbox One game with the robots?” because most people buy one console, maybe two at most. Part of the problem with Titanfall was that it held no single player campaign, and only had multiplayer, yet Titanfall 2 (according to the developer) will not only have a single player campaign, but it will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

If you want another example, take Bayonetta 2; which never would have been created if not for the intervention of Nintendo. The sad part about this is, with the Nintendo NX releasing next year, many people are afraid to buy the Wii U because of the knowledge that “something better is coming.” Bayonetta was one of my favorite games on the PlayStation 3 (despite people complaining about the frame-rate issues, I had no problems with it) and yet I fell into the category of those who would love to play Bayonetta 2 and are unable due to having to choose whether I should buy the Wii U, which is at the end of its proverbial lifespan, or buy a Nintendo NX. There is a possibility (that I am hoping for) in which Nintendo will take a page out of Microsoft’s book and bring backwards-compatibility to the Nintendo NX, which would allow NX owners to buy Wii U games and play them on the Nintendo NX (much like the Wii-enabled people to buy GameCube games and play them), but that isn’t a sure thing.

(Bayonetta 2, Nintendo) Exclusives

(Bayonetta 2, Nintendo)

What most people miss, however, is that console games are not the only ones to suffer as a result of exclusivity. Rocket League greatly benefited from being brought to consoles and PC, with the former PC and PS4 exclusive reaching over 14 million users, after being launched on Xbox One.

Editor’s Comment: If Rocket League wasn’t on PlayStation Plus and was kept on PC, would it be as successful as it is now?

Classic games from my childhood, such as Final Fantasy VI, are finding new life on the PC. An entirely new generation of players is able to buy these games on Steam and play them, experiencing classics that I remember fondly. Yet PC gamers and Xbox owners are unable to play and enjoy the Uncharted franchise simply because they don’t own the right console.

Editor’s Note: Final Fantasy X, previously a PlayStation exclusive, launched last week on PC for the first time since it’s release on PS2 in 2001/2002.

The real problem with exclusivity is that it is eliminating the possibility of creating true classics. In a world where people have to choose between three different consoles, eventually, someone is going to miss out on a truly groundbreaking experience. Quantum Break seems like a fantastic game, but because it is an Xbox exclusive, there are many people who may possibly miss out on what looks to be a gorgeous and well-crafted experience. Of course, there are people that say, “Look at the Final Fantasy games! Look at Mario! Look at the original Zelda games! Those were all exclusives!” and to that, I will simply say that yes, they were exclusives. But now you are seeing the old school Mario games on handheld and even on mobile devices; Final Fantasy titles are coming to PC; there are so many things changing in the gaming landscape that isn’t it time we do better? Isn’t it time to attempt to preserve gaming history for the coming generations to enjoy?

(Quantum Break, Microsoft) Exclusives

(Quantum Break, Microsoft)

If we honestly look at the gaming landscape, things are changing drastically. Subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft are steadily declining, and some of the best franchises of yesteryear are transforming to fit modern gameplay standards. Sadly, there are franchises that haven’t shown up in years (I’m looking directly at you Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, and Metroid.) With that in mind, I hope that the console developers take a second look at exclusivity and try to undo the outdated practice. It is time to shed the old ways and bring in better alternatives.8

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