I have to say this. Exclusivity is terrible for gaming. Now hear me out, before the banters of console wars and arguments for each side of the gaming spectrum. I am a massive fan of all things gaming. I love going on dangerous trivial escapades with Nathan Drake on the PS4. A pleasant drive racing through the scenic courses in Forza Horizon on my Xbox One. Including smashing up the competition in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on my Switch. Also, I love the frantic joys of playing CS:GO on my PC. I even enjoy a good mobile game or two. So yes, I enjoy the many avenues gaming has to offer. So why is exclusivity ruining the future of gaming?
I am not saying all exclusivity is terrible for gaming. As much as we could dream, Mario will never be featured on an Xbox game. Also, God of War will never appear on a Nintendo system. However, there is an upside to exclusivity because it does encourage a spirit of competition amongst competitors, which is great for us gamers to bring quality titles to our homes. However, there have been some very shady practices that go beyond conventional exclusivity. I am talking about missing content, locked modes, and much more. These practices play into more corporate favors and contracts than gamers. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Content Blocked By Exclusivity
The subject of content being blocked or withheld due to exclusivity is more apparent these days. This practice’s latest observation is of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Zombies Onslaught mode that will be exclusive to the PS4 and PS5. Now that is good for PlayStation owners, but for everyone else – a big old frowny face. On top of that, this mode will not be available on the rest of the consoles for a whole year. This isn’t the first time Activision has done this. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Special Ops Survival Mode was also exclusive to the PS4 when the game was released, and was available a year later.
How is that fair to everyone else who has to pay the same price tag for the same game? It’s not fair. It’s favoritism due to contractual agreements that cater to a select crowd and not the whole. Another example of this is the controversial decision from Crystal Dynamics to make Spider-Man an exclusive character in Marvel’s Avengers for PS4 and PS5. Meaning you won’t see the web-slinger in the Xbox or PC version. It would be more convenient for Crystal Dynamics to give Xbox and PC players their own exclusive character like Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. Examples like Soulcalibur 2 that offered Link for GameCube, Heihachi Mishima for PS2, and Spawn for Xbox, make for an excellent way to satisfy everyone.
This would ensure no player feels left out. Spider-Man could have been included since Marvel’s Avengers has no correlation to Insomniac’s Spider-Man Universe. Also, Spidey has appeared in non-Sony exclusive titles such as Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order for the Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft’s Purchase Of Bethesda And What It Could Mean For Gaming
Microsoft shocked the gaming world recently with its acquisition of Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda. You know, the team that brings you beautiful titles of pure mayhem in Doom and wanderlust of exploration within The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. Why is this purchase so important? Well, it marks a huge step in what could be a disastrous new trend in gaming. I am not saying Microsoft is entirely wrong for purchasing the studios, but it ultimately depends on what they do moving forward. Even I made a suggestive article on the companies they could acquire next.
However, Microsoft could have Bethesda titles only on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs. Think about the movie industry and how Disney buys many intellectual properties. Microsoft could follow suit within the gaming world. I doubt it, but the possibility is still there. You could argue and say that “Sony does this all the time.” However, I would say most of Sony’s studios have been a part of the company for a long time. They are natural to the PlayStation family, same as Halo is a part of Microsoft’s family. Bethesda is different because their games span across multi-platforms, not just one.
Luckily for PlayStation owners including myself, Microsoft likes to play fair. Microsoft execs even suggests having Bethesda games to be “first or best” on their consoles while not pulling away from other platforms. So not all is lost. PS5 players will likely quest in The Elder Scrolls VI, just not as good or sooner on an Xbox Series X. I would suggest Bethesda leave out the game-breaking bugs and glitches and keep the one that gives us infinite loot. However, Microsoft could restrict content or modes to comfort more of their player base than other platforms. Which is very wrong if Microsoft decides to go this direction.
So Will Exclusivity Ruin The Future Of Gaming?
Well, yes and no. Exclusivity has been good for gaming in the way of creating a spirit of competition. Think about the console wars in the late ’80s and early ’90s with Nintendo and Sega. Both companies were pushing to deliver great content to their fanbase. The only difference was one company has an Italian plumber and the other a furry blue hedgehog. Exclusives will always be around, and nothing is changing that. Yes, it would have been keen to see Spider-Man swing his way on an Xbox console or Master Chief making a cameo on a PlayStation title, but it will never happen. And if it does happen, that is called copyright infringement, and there is no amount of mods worth serving jail time for.
However, all jokes aside, exclusivity is shifting in a dismal direction if studios decide to give more content to one platform and not the other. It’s called fairness, and I feel these practices do not encourage gaming as a whole. Why is there a penalty for a preference? Paywalls like restricted DLC and microtransactions are already downgrading games. Now gamers have to worry about what console they play on to gain additional content that should already be available on all platforms.
Not everyone has access to all platforms, especially with a global pandemic and scalpers running around. If studios want full support from their fanbase, they should stop such petty practices to encourage more support for everyone regardless of their platform of choice. Just look at Marvel’s Avengers dwindling player base. I wouldn’t say karma, but I bet they wish Spider-Man can be on Xbox now, right? Console restricted content needs to end. Remember, no matter what platform we play on, we are all gamers here.
What do you think about the future of exclusivity in gaming? Leave your comments below.