Eric Warner Opinion Editor
Exclusive sources of entertainment have long been a staple of various media. From exclusive stories in 19th century broadsheets to modern day cable TV channels distributing their own shows, production companies have relied on releasing stories that can only be found within their own parameters to gain subscribers and profit from them. Often times, however, the amount or type of exclusive products produced by a company can make or break its survivability amongst the increasing number of competitors.
There is perhaps no other medium where exclusives play a vital role in the long-term duration of publishers and producers than in the realm of video games. Unique games that cannot be found anywhere else are usually system sellers for the big three video game developers, those being Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation, and Nintendo.
Recently, the debate over the existence of exclusive games has reached an all time high due to the porting of many exclusive Xbox and PlayStation titles being brought to the Personal Computer through services such as Steam. This decision to bring console mainstays such as the sci-fi “Halo” and “Horizon: Zero Dawn” series to the PC market has left many consumers to question the point of video game consoles if their main selling points are just going to be brought to the PC down the line.
With the financial success of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” being brought to PC, the most recent addition being “Halo 3: ODST” which will be brought over on Sept. 22, 2020, Microsoft has already planned to launch their next game in the series, “Halo: Infinite” on PC alongside their next console.
According to Chris Lee, studio head of Halo’s current developer 343 Industries, “…we’re shipping on more platforms than we ever have before and the Xbox One family. We’re going to PC at launch for the first time…”. Xbox has been known to port first-party titles to other competing consoles such as “Cuphead” being brought to the Nintendo Switch. Sony is planning on bringing more console exclusive games to PC as well after the financial success of “Horizon: Zero Dawn” which was brought over on Aug. 7, 2020. According to a Sony 2020 Corporate Report, “We will explore expanding our 1st party titles to the PC platform in order to promote further growth in our profitability…Competition from online PC games and players from other industries is expected to continue to intensify” (PC Gamer). Nintendo meanwhile has no plans to port any of its exclusive games to PC, but is rather working on broadening their presence in the mobile gaming market.
As the ninth console generation slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5, it’s important to consider how these ports will affect the lives of these consoles. While it’s nice to give players, who cannot afford a PlayStation or Xbox, the chance to play these once console locked games on PC, it also leaves many to not even bother purchasing a console at all if their main selling points are just going to be brought to PC.
Currently, PlayStation has no plans to release any of its next-generation games on PC but Xbox will be launching all of its exclusive titles concurrently on PC and console. This could effectively kill the Xbox console if there’s no incentive to buy it other than being loyal to the brand.
Exclusives should convince consumers to buy consoles as well as inspire competitors to make their own exclusives that will surpass their predecessors and ultimately innovate within the gaming world. Perhaps the ninth console generation will be the last stand of video game consoles as companies are increasingly investing in digital markets and platforms. Players will just have to wait and see when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X release in Nov. 2020.
Without exclusive first-party games, consoles would have no reason to exists and PC’s would form a monopoly over the video game platform. In order for the video-gaming industry to survive, companies need to attract and convince players to purchase their systems through the development of superb console exclusive titles.