A big debate involving the video game industry nowadays is to do with exclusives. You see a trailer for a new game that has just come out, it looks absolutely amazing and you can’t wait to play it. You own an Xbox One but you realise at the end that the game you were just smiling about from ear to ear is actually a PS4 exclusive. You don’t own that console and now your options are limited. You’re now either prevented from playing this game or you’re going to have to go out and buy that console just so you can play that game you liked the look of and potentially others in the future. But is this anti-consumer?
Opinions are usually divided on this topic, but it’s often interested to look at it from both sides. In the red corner you have those who think that this kind of divide is healthy for the games industry. They believe that by locking certain games to specific platforms and preventing the other side from playing the same game, you’re creating a healthy competition. What this means is that if one developer decides to make an amazing game which exceeds all expectations, it almost forces the competition to take that and do their best to make a game for their platform which rivals the previous game which ultimately results in a win win situation for the consumer. By having this constant back and forth between competitors, the consumer gets multiple fantastic games to enjoy provided they own the necessary consoles to be able to play it.
But in the blue corner you have those who believe that console exclusives are bad for the industry and should not be a thing. The reason for this is due to the fact that for those who can’t afford to own multiple consoles they have no choice but to not be able to play the games they want, excluding and dividing the player base solely based on the fact that they don’t own one or the other. In terms of appealing to an audience, by dividing the player base you’re stopping potential buyers from sharing good opinions on your game because they can’t play it.
You often see people sharing their opinion about exclusives on social media but for the wrong reasons. One of the big negatives of console exclusives is the toxicity it creates in some people. More times than not I have seen people laughing and ridiculing others in comment sections on trailers and the like simply because the game in question is locked to a certain platform and “trolls” feel like they’re better than those who play on “the other side” because of it.
It’s hard to look at both sides and make a judgement, because there are pros and cons to both sides but as sad as it is to think about, I truly believe that if there was no such thing as console exclusives then the industry would not be what it is today. Because developers are so passionate about giving their players a reason to choose their platform, they are also inspired to create the best experiences possible. I don’t see the trend ending anytime soon, if anything, it will only continue as we enter the next console generation beyond 2019.