Did you hear? You’ll only be able to play Street Fighter V on Playstation 4. It’s an exclusive!
Well, Street Fighter V will also be on PC, but only those! It’s an exclusive!
That’s how the world at large breached news of a new Capcom fighter, spreading it far and wide. It’s dumb and it’s happening way too much now. Exclusives might not be dead, but the term’s use certainly is.
Street Fighter isn’t an exclusive, it’s multiplatform. When games come out on more than one platform, they lose their “exclusive” status and instead move from that to multiple platforms. It’s that simple, really, but in the new climate of game marketing, the term is being washed away by eager press releases and media is all too happy to pass along the hype.
More than it being wrong, since exclusivity to a grouping will always technically be accurate, stretching the term makes it meaningless. If everything is exclusive, then nothing is. That’s why the term has always stuck to one product. When previous generations fought over dominance, they did so through exclusives. Playstation 3 had games, like Demon’s Souls or Metal Gear Solid 4, which couldn’t be played anywhere else. Xbox 360 had Crackdown and Forza. PC and Nintendo have always been cool with providing their own line of titles.
Now, game releases and the industry as a whole have become focused entirely on mimicry and the direct competition between PS4 and Xbox One in particular. Xbox One costs €499? Well, the PS4 will be €399 then! PS4 attracts indies? Well, Microsoft will buy Minecraft’s Mojang, the biggest “indie” of them all! It’s more than a little childish, but probably also not a healthy mentality to keep pursuing, at least not as a long-term plan. There’s only so much waiting for the other side to make a move that one can do, before both sides lay in waiting forever. If you want some personal speculation, I also believe that’s one reason why Vita has been sent to the slaughter, despite promises of long-term support, because Sony is so fixated on countering the Xbox One at all turns. There are no eyes left for other things. That’s a story for another time though.
But again, more than just a meaning that changes, as the evolution of language often totally literally goes, it can be confusing to use the term whenever. This has already presented media and consumers with questions when the latest Tomb Raider was announced as an Xbox exclusive. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer didn’t even feel like specifying if that meant the game would never release elsewhere, though they had a part in confusing people. That’s a rather hostile stance. Here, the goal is to trap consumers. Cryptic information helps, but locking the view to a tiny pinhole is even better. Buyers need to be pushed towards sticking to a certain platform. Whether that motivation is drawn by desire or fear of missing out isn’t that important, as long as they do it. In Tomb Raider’s case, it already wasn’t completely exact, as the game will release for both Xbox One and Xbox 360. It sounds better if it’s an exclusive though, even if the only two options of a multiple release is within the same company. That’s how sad marketing is.
PC and Nintendo are no longer a part of the regurgitated commercial babble, because the other two consoles are running scared. PS4 and Xbox One need to push those others aside to keep their dominance going, since exclusives don’t really happen that often anymore. Actually, if anything, the PC and Nintendo are fine with their range of exclusives. They don’t need to push an agenda, since they’re just providing a space that has neat things that can’t be experienced elsewhere. If exclusives are still around for Sony and Microsoft, they’re not as present as previous generations. One reason for it is that blockbuster game development has become so inflated that it’s just not economically sound to limit platforms. Millions of units need to be shifted now, before a Tomb Raider can even be called successful anymore. Ninja Theory, who has been working on large games for a few years now, stated that your standard spectacle chart-topper requires a $100 million budget, for a video game.
So, since that world of single-platform titles is growing smaller, companies are much harder on pushing from within that, with exclusive content. Quantity looks as big as ever, because the scope has been shrunken down to size. FIFA has a Legends option that’s restricted to Xbox. Publisher Ubisoft has been assisting Sony with content “only on Playstation.” Assassin’s Creed has a mission that can be played here. Far Cry has a gun that can only be used there. This mentality eventually leads to Watch Dogs getting so many specific exclusives that it needed a chart to decipher all of it. It’s all smoke and mirrors, kids. It’s getting you to choose option A, because it has two or three more diminutive bullet points than option B.
In this panopticon of content, it’s impossible to know what content is or isn’t in a game everyone gets anyway. You’re going to play the game and never really be aware of what part you played that your neighbor didn’t, unless you’re actively looking to one-up someone. Bridges would burn if one console received an integral part of the game, while the other one didn’t. It’s all fluff, so its unique nature is almost always insignificant. All sides will still get the same game, which isn’t very restricted at all.
We need to be able to move on from that. So, here’s an idea: Whenever a media outlet copies the hype speech from some marketing firm, point it out that the game isn’t exclusive. State the inconsistency with putting up a title that alludes to a restricted product, while it’s available on multiple platforms. Let’s take it back. Let’s get excited again that when a game says it’s an exclusive, it really is totally unavailable on anything else. “Console exclusive” isn’t a thing; it’s just putting blinds on the rest of the gaming space. It’s dumb.
Words have meaning or they used to, at least. We don’t need all of our info to be laced with marketing. We don’t need our capitalistic products to be solely capitalistic. It’s perfectly possible to make up one’s own mind without any tricks. Sure, it’s possible to do so with tricks as well, but that’s really a crappy attitude to uphold.
Whatever; I’m going to play one of the actual hundreds of PC exclusives. Maybe I’ll turn on the 3DS before bed.
Did you hear Dungeon Defenders II is going to be exclusive on PS4?