Console exclusivity is…

Exclusivity in video games is polarising matter to handle. It might be strange to find out that while I am all for the customer always, I am a solid supporter of exclusivity when it comes to video games. As such, this is one of those rarer posts where I will voice a clear statement that is mine, rather than from a point of view that I might or might not agree with.

 A common argument why most, if not all, video games should be available on all platforms is that this would enable the customer to choose whatever platform he prefers and purchase those games for it. It sounds really good argument and tickles the hardcore crowd’s funny bone in their lower backs. A general customer would then ask Then what would be the point of having multiple machines?

That’s a question that thickens the plot and makes the spider spin its web. Why DO we have all these consoles? After all, the machine’s purpose it to run the game, and the machine shouldn’t matter, right? If all games would be released on all consoles, shouldn’t that increase the competition? Or if we just had one console, shouldn’t that increase the competition too?

Well, the very reason we have multiple consoles is that we would have different companies running their machines in our houses over the other. At the moment we have three competing machines, two of which are basically the same shit in a different package and then one that has a screen on its controller. On the handheld side we have a machine that’s barely successful and then one that repeated every fault its predecessor had and added new ones. In contrast to this, on the fourth generation of video games we had around nine consoles running against each other and at least three handhelds and buttloads of Tiger Electronics games.  And fourth generation of video games was insanely successful and popular in contrast what we have nowadays.

And all those consoles had large amounts of exclusive games and nobody complained.

As the Neo HD-Twins are the same shit with different package, the devs are having perhaps the easiest time of porting games from those to PC or back. Wii U is the only machine that they’re having trouble with, but according to an article it’s mostly because Nintendo themselves screwed a lot of things up with their devkits and helpdesk organization. Thus, Wii U will see lesser amount of stuff than its competitors. Then you add the cost of HD development, which again went up with the generation shift.

I don’t want game developers to have easy time. Their work is already relatively easy, as all they do is sit inside in front of their computers and type shit down while they chat and drink coffee. Most of them barely want to do the math how to take all they can out of a system anymore, and just want the best and most powerful machine out there so they can go all wild and not care how well their game is formed up. This might be shocking to hear, but I’d love to see games made with care, with high level of coding and so that it wouldn’t take three to six years. We’re barely getting a new real Zelda games twice a decade now, and we haven’t seen a well made 2D Super Mario game since Super Mario World. In hindsight, New Super Mario Bros. got a freepass because it was the first 2D Mario game in a long time. Now that Nintendo has milked half-assed 2D Mario to death, they’ve been forcing 3D game elements into 2D Mario and its failing.

A successful company is for the customers’ best. A successful company that has tough competition is better for the customer. A successful company that has successful competitors need to put our good amount of high quality products and hit the Blue Ocean market in order to eclipse their competitors, and this is good for the customer.

What I mean by this that the current situation is all kinds of wrong when you look at it properly. We’re seeing the exact same games repeated in slightly different forms, or in Fifa’s case just with a skinjob. Just as the Neo HD-Twins are same shit, their games to a large extent are the same with a different package. While there would be nothing wrong in having the same game on all machines, it does take out the uniqueness of each released game. Say you have ten games released on three different system. You’re basically left one unique game in that set of ten, because three games would be on three systems, effectively making you have either three to four games depending on the system of your choice. The competition is screwed, and even more so if that one game is for a whole other platform from the three others. On the other hand, the devs could make one of those games a multiplatform game, and the rest would be unique standalone titles. We would see seven different games that wouldn’t only compete with each other, but would also compete with the platforms. We would see a thing called variety.

When you have a large amount of variety aimed in different parts of the Blue Ocean with the aim of making the possible product, magic starts to happen.

The most successful console has the most games. Most of these games are also exclusive to this console. When it was said that the NES had the best games, it was true. It saw the most sales, and numbers don’t lie or change. People lie and change, and are prone to be biased. While quantity does not mean quality, there is a higher chance of having quality products in high quantity set than in small quantity set.

When you start thinning out all the multiplatform releases from the last generation, the overall amount of single games released starts to look a bit strange. A multiplatform game barely matters; it doesn’t sell consoles. However, games that sell consoles matter always, and the most games that move console sales are exclusives.

There are also sad sides on exclusivity, such as that it creates fanboys. The common customer doesn’t actually give a damn if they’re playing a Nintendo or Microsoft, all they care for if they have games they’re interested in. It’s the small hardcore crowd that cares if they have a certain console over another. I can completely understand the existence of Nintendo’s fanbase, as they’re basically the only hardware and software manufacturer nowadays, but seeing that most SONY and Microsoft fans always put multiplatform gaming on a pedestal and compare the exact same product side-by-side to see the minuscule differences, I don’t understand why these two would even have an issue with each other? Most of their competition doesn’t even come from the games, but from the company producing the machines. At least during the 8-bit and 16-bit Console Wars we used to compare games against each other.

There’s also the interesting point, that while the hardcore and the rest of the industry just laughs at Nintendo, they can’t help but say how much they’d love to play their games. In comparison, very rarely does Nintendo owners have a feel to play games on other consoles because they had ports of games or other games that filled the same niche.

And that where it all actually lies; by having these companies creating different games for different platforms, even within same genre, there would be competition to outwit the other. Even better if this would happen inside the developing companies too.

And when companies compete with each other, and with themselves internally, that can be highly beneficial to the customer.

Sadly, the game business is warped nowadays, and not just because of Neo HD-Twins being completely dumbed down PCs rather than game consoles and the hardcore crowd driving the industry further down, and the industry actually listens to these Red Ocean  people rather hitting the Blue Ocean with all their might and making money. Of course, the macro-economic situation doesn’t help in this either.

As such, I stand on the side that wants to see more different games populating the console libraries rather see the same games populating all the consoles. The customer would have much wider selection to choose from, as well as more reasons to pick one console over the other. As such, the customer would have the option to pick from multiple games rather than just one on many platforms. And naturally, this would also be good for the console business.

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2 thoughts on “Console exclusivity is…

  1. Greetings,

    It would be interesting to see if developers want exclusivity or not primarily because I suspect that it would turn into a system of patronage at best or perpetual serfdom at worst. Would the developers take the risk do you think?

    Good read as well.

    1. If developers would embrace exclusivity to the extend they used to, it would also mean that they’d have to produce more games to gain their own share of each consoles’ sales. When one console becomes popular, it is always because it has the games the common audience wants, thus making this console the best choice. The developers are basically concentrating on one console nowadays, as they’re producing one game for Steam, Xbone and PS4, which are basically the same machine. Even some of the developers are wondering why there is a need for two consoles when they’re so similar?
      Why exclusivity doesn’t work for the companies, and why they want every game to be on each platform, is because the price of developing a game has risen with each generation almost exponentially. They think that developing one highly budgeted game and sell it on all possible outlets is a way to make money. This leads us seeing one game per three to five years. The Wii saw a software draught because Nintendo stopped making software for it, and the industry followed their lead. Yet, Nintendo consoles always float when their exclusive games follow the NES ideology as seen with the DS and Wii.
      Would the developers want to make exclusive games? No, because it would mean that they’d have to do research and work in order to make that game sell. Something they should be making regardless. A successful game then sees competitors in the best possible scenario, and this leads to more competition and even harder work, where every developer is trying to make the last game obsolete. It would also mean that the devs would need to put more games out and all of them should be of better quality than the competitors’. Nobody wants to rattle the boat in the Red Ocean, because they’re all huddled up there, trying to fish the same fish with same lures. Of course, going out there in the Blue Ocean might be very scary, but seeing how easy it is making money there, I am surprised that very few companies are willing to follow the NES philosophy. Not even Nintendo wants to make money nowadays, it seems.

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