A slightly different article from us today! At RPG, we often use websites like N4G to promote content, share opinions and gather with like-minded gamers across the globe. N4G is largely a place where people across the industry get along, but it can also be a place still riddled with cries of the console wars (seriously, it’s over guys). I was reading through the site this morning when I came across an rather populated article uploaded by Keen Gamer entitled, “Why Exclusivity is Ruining the Future of Gaming.” What I would say is that before you read this response, you should go and check out their original article first. Read it? Great. Let’s get straight into our response.
I want to start off by saying this – by and large – it is a great article, an interesting read. The title however, is massively clickbait as the overarching theme feels like it is taking a more level-headed approach. It is important to note that while this title may be misleading in some areas, one of the main points Jovan (author) makes is about games that release on multiple consoles, but one side gets priority/extra content by paying for a minor exclusivity deal.
I agree with you Jovan, I dislike this too. Although, it isn’t a dealbreaker – we will still buy the games. Most of the content that becomes exclusive or locked is usually some subpar mode that we wouldn’t play often anyway (I mean really, when did anyone ever play Spec-Ops?). With Call of Duty, I agree with the decisions Sony have taken – it is business deal at the end of the day. You don’t hold two of the bestselling consoles of all time without being ahead of the competition. Yes. It is a competition – welcome to business.
What I would say is, and I think developers largely agree with this: when it comes to content, don’t sell exclusive rights to game-changing modes, characters or maps. We can talk about it not being fair, but that exclusivity deal ultimately pours into content effecting all platforms. To label it as favouritism due to contractual agreements, it isn’t favouritism at all. Why? Because as you said, it’s contractual – making it business, not personal.
Competition isn’t just healthy, it’s needed
This year – as mentioned in Keen Gamer’s article – Microsoft acquired Bethesda, a huge deal for them (massive even, one of the biggest of all time in gaming). This deal is a great thing for not just Microsoft, but their business model for the consumers (Gamepass say whaaat?). Jovan states that it marks a huge step in what could be a disastrous new trend in gaming. Why? Why could it be that? Microsoft needed to make a big play and this is it. In comparison to the studios under Sony, Naughty Dog and Insomniac to name a few; Microsoft needed this. Even the potential thought that this could mean some of the biggest franchises in gaming (Elder Scrolls and Fallout) could go exclusive to Xbox would have Sony quaking (haha, get it? Quake?). Just because something has the potential to go exclusive doesn’t make it unfair? Let’s avoid throwing our toys out the pram here. It is business, and good business it is. Just to be clear here, I am not currently gaming on the Xbox, I recently purchased a PS4 Pro and it is my sole console – so if that were to happen it would effect me too.
Sony should and would have felt the hit from that move. Although Microsoft has vowed not to make the games exclusive (good on them), they have said they will be either first or best (or both) on the Xbox. A great thing for them indeed. From this, competition will form and Microsoft need to compete. Not only have they undersold in comparison last-gen, already it is happening again with this gen – I guess legacy does play a huge part in this.
Phil Spencer, in a recent interview with the Guardian has stated: “I love competing with Sony and Nintendo because I know why they’re in the business, and they’ve been here for decades. And yes, we’re going to compete like crazy, but we also all understand that it is about making great games for people to play. But having extremely well-funded tech companies come in and see gaming as a $200bn top-line business, moving the deck chairs all around and then potentially disappearing … the reason we’re here is because we want to make gaming better, and see it continue to grow.” Spencer goes on to talk about how they view the future of the industry in the streaming and subscription models. With the article aimed at displaying their stance towards console sales, it will be interesting to see how this develops in the competition.
Exclusivity has never been better
Finally, I want to focus a little bit on the last few things Jovan writes, in addition to the clickbait title. Why Exclusivity is Ruining the Future of Gaming. This title isn’t the right approach to the topic because exclusivity in gaming has never been better than it currently is, and it’s on the up. What we seem to miss here in the topic of exclusivity, as you have too Jovan, is that historically it was never the consoles that missed out – it was always the PC. For years, the PC was stuck paying more for their hardware but not being able to play great games and to a degree, that is still the case. But it is improving. Microsoft years back pledged to bring all their exclusive content to the PC as well. Additionally, over the past few years Sony have also been bringing some of their bigger titles to the platform. Great stuff, major improvements over 10 years ago.
To say ‘exclusivity is shifting in a dismal direction,’ is to disregard the progress already made within the industry. Sure, if Sony want fork out a few extra million on some modes that in all seriousness will have little-to-no effect on the wider community – go for it. Jovan asks the question, why is there a penalty for preference? Because you made an initial choice – which was a fair decision. It isn’t a penalty in anyway, if I choose to buy an iPhone over an Android, I’m not penalised because I cannot use the Google Play store – I made my choice which should have considered all of these things.
With the launch of the Xbox Series X, we saw one of their flagship launch titles in Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon. A franchise that since it’s initial release in 2004 has always been a Playstation exclusive with the odd release on PC and maybe a mobile game. To see that release as a launch title on the Xbox Series X says how far we have actually come in terms of exclusivity – it is only getting better.
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