The history of gaming can reveal hundreds or sometimes even thousands of games exclusive to one particular platform. A famous example is Super Mario, during the 80’s, for the Nintendo consoles, or Crash Bandicoot for the Playstation dito a couple of years later.
Back then the most popular games functioned as mascots to sell more systems, and gave the platform it’s distinct flavor and made it easily recognizable. The importance of such mind share cannot be understated, and we do not have to look further than Crash Bandicoot to see the impact it had during Playstation’s first decade on market. If we go back to the very first years of the Playstation 1, gaming was considered a child’s toy. Luckily the market has shifted and is today considered a hobby even for adults. But, one could make the argument about childish mascots in relation to strong buyers like families and relatives. The middle class was indeed a power to be reckoned with for both gaming outlets and game stores as well as for the marketing teams, which understood that they had to adress the one’s with the wallets or purchasing power.
So what’s changed?
Nintendo have Mario, and to this day still bank on the little Italian plumber, Playstation had Crash. Xbox is still synonymous with the Halo franschise.
Playstation is dominating the market this generation with the Playstation 4, Nintendo released the Nintendo Switch in March 2017 and both consoles is on a remarkable sales trajectory. The Xbox is falling behind the Playstation 4 and when they decided to release most of their exclusive lineup simultaneously on the PC platform (Windows 10 Store/STEAM) because of lackluster sales, and overall negative publictity because of those poor sales records.
In the beginning Xbox as well as Playstation had a great exclusive games line-up like:
Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games), Halo 5 (343 Industries), iNfamous: Second Son (Sucker Punch Productions), Bloodborne (From Software). The list goes on and on.
A few shorter droughts was experienced on both platforms, especially in the generations infancy, but third party games like Battlefield and other major games quenched that thirst for most gamers, but, we knew about new exclusives and all that we had to do, was to wait for those games to be released.
Exclusive games, historically, was never an issue. It was the stand-out factor that made the platform in question unique, and drew new people in as well as maintained the gamers who already loved the games and those exclusive games was what made them decide to come back the next generation as well.
The moment Xbox decided to release most of their own, exclusive games simultaneously on PC, the conversation shifted, especially on the online arena such as Twitter. All of a sudden it was no longer ok to have exclusive games. It was called “anti-consumer” and a bad business practice.
My question to the proponents of this perspective: Is Android anti-consumer to iPhone users? Mcdonald’s vs Burger King? Volvo vs Audi?
Many users online claim that exclusives isolate other players. They feel left out. And I can agree that it would be nice to have everything in one place. But, from a business or corporate standpoint a big differentiating factor like a exclusive game, feature or otherwise can be the very thing that make or break a generation.
During the PS3’s first 2-3 years, the price was killing Sony. Xbox had the vast majority of the exclusive partnerships, great AAA exclusive games and so forth. Playstation turned it around by giving gamers the games that they wanted, and the feature set they requested.
No one had an issue with this during that generation.
And I can agree that locking gamers out of third party games, that is a bad business practice. Buying exclusive rights to a game for a year or more is not optimal from a gamers standpoint if you play on a different platform.
Why would we need different manufacturers if we could play all games on everything? This is a dangerous idea and it could lead to monopoly if let’s say Microsoft bought up Sony and Nintendo. The level of competition would diminish and wither away and we would not see the innovation and creativity that we have seen throughout the years. Considering Nintendo Switch’s recent sales success and the extreme laser focus they have on exclusivity, both on games as well as on features, that fact alone is making the whole argument invalid.
If gaming started out with no exclusivity at all, would we have gotten to play and know Crash Bandicoot or take part in Nathan Drake’s latest epic adventure?
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