Opinion: Do We Need Exclusives?

It’s a simple question, but one that’s worth asking; what’s the point of exclusives?

You see, Alex brought a tweet from superannuation to my attention, and it contained a link to a Nielsen article about the most anticipated games for the rest of the year.

It points out that none of the games on the PS3 list are exclusives, which seems a little worrying at first. Of course it’s worth noting that the Xbox 360 only has two exclsuive on its list, Halo 4 and Fable: The Journey, although Halo does top the list.

This isn’t quite as bad as it seems of course, you have to take account of the fact that there’s hardly any exclusives on the PS3 or Xbox 360 anyway, or not in 2012 anyway.

[drop]By my reckoning the Xbox has got Halo 4, Forza Horizon and Fable: The Journey, whilst the PS3 has All-Stars Battle Royale, Dust 514 and LittleBigPlanet Karting. There are a few more fringe titles knocking about, but those are probably the biggest exclusive titles coming this year, and even then Dust 514 feels like a bit of a stretch to include in that list.

Exclusives are never going to make up the majority of this sort of list, there’s rarely enough released in one year to dominate, but I’d at least expect a game with the LittleBigPlanet brand attached to it to make an appearance.

All-Stars Battle Royale looks like it could be a fun game, but I can certainly see why it doesn’t have a showing. The lack of an appearence from Forza does seem a bit baffling though, personally I’d expect it to do better than Fable.

To an extent that’s just the world we live in now, and I don’t just mean games either. Attach a brand to anything and it’s probably got a better chance of success.

The more crucial question though is that, with the balance more heavily in favour of non-exclusive titles, does anyone really care about exclusive games any more? Take the rumoured purchase of Activision by Microsoft (something that seems as unlikely as when they were touted as potential buyers for EA), just how much harm could they do by making some properties exclusive to the 360.

You can ignore Call of Duty to some extent, it has the brand power to draw hardcore fans away from the PS3 to the 360. No, it’s the future that matters more, and just how new properties would do if they were exclusive.

Perhaps exclusives only really matter at the start of a generation. As the PS3 and 360 seems to come closer together in terms of features and development tools, what’s the point of a new exclusive?

Quantic Dream can cetainly see some benefit in pouring in the resources necessary for an exclusive when, as a second/third-party developer, they don’t have to, but it seems few others can for this generation of consoles.

[drop2]The story’s a little different on the Wii U, with Ubisoft declaring it worthy of an exclusive Rayman title and Platinum Games working on P-100 (although it’s published by Nintendo). With the uniqueness of the Wii U GamePad perhaps we’ll see some investment there from third parties, particularly as the hardware’s capable of running popular engines like Unreal.

Even with the tablet gameplay of the Wii U to tempt developers looking to do something new or interesting, I’m still not sure if we’ll see a flood of third party exclusives cropping up on the new console. In fact if we’ve seen anything this generation it’s previously exclusives titles flowing towards the higher earning potential that multi-platform publishing brings.

Realistically, with multi-platform publishing becoming easier with third party tools and engines, the potential for more sales when making your game available to more consumers, and the general trend of third parties staying away from exclusive contracts it does seem like exclusive games may slowly slip below the waterline, except as glorified tech demos.

And why shouldn’t they?

I love Halo, but I wouldn’t be any less in love with it if a PS3 version of Halo 4 suddenly appeared. The same goes for Uncharted, The Last of Us or Beyond; if they appeared on 360 it wouldn’t make them any more or less interesting as games. With complaints about the quality of multi-platform or ported titles becoming less and less pronounced, is there really any point in making a game exclusive?

I don’t think so.

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39 Comments

  1. Yes and no.
    If there were no exclusives, it would lower sales of the consoles (due to the lack of games being missed by not owning multiple) but also would hit Nintendo VERY HARD. Nintendo rely on exclusives, and if they lost that right now, they wouldn’t have many reasons for us to buy a WiiU.

  2. If we didnt have exclusives then what would the internet argue about? Think of those poor kittens that power the internet, their cuteness would be going to waste. Think of the kittens Sony! The KITTENS!

    On a more serious note, “is there really any point in making a game exclusive?” – yes, to sell systems. Just look at Monster Hunter in Japam, or Halo here – both saw spikes in Hardware when they were released.

    • I hear that MH is very popular in Japan too.

  3. I bought a PS3 rather than an Xbox 360 in 2008 because it had Blu-Ray and a more exciting line up of exclusive titles. In particular, LittleBigPlanet was amazing, but I was just as intrigued by Uncharted, MotorStorm:PR, Killzone 2 and plenty more besides.

    By comparison, it seemed at the time that the 360 only really had Halo and Gears of War to grab me, and so the stronger, more varied catalogue of exclusive titles played a big part in the decision.

    On top of all that, it’s usually the exclusives that manage to extract the very top level of performance and integration from a machine. With the PS3 notoriously difficult to code for, it was Naughty Dog and Guerilla Games that really led the way, and their games are still at the very tip-top of the graphical scales on the machine, whilst 3rd parties have only recently caught up.

    • I bought a ps3 also purely as at the time it was not only the cheapest but also one of the best blu-ray players (still is really).
      I had no intention of playing ps3 games or console gaming at all as at the time I was 100% PC gamer.

      Yet here I am now with 60% ps3 gaming / 20% vita and rest between 360/pc.

      In my case the blu-ray aspect which Sony put back date of ps3 for made it the primary reason why I now primarily game on ps3 :)

      Oh and Uncharted opened my eyes to how good console gaming was.

  4. All statistics are lies. Battle Royale must surely be one of the most anticipated games this year, it certainly is on my list. And next year is dominated by exclusives on PS3.

    But, yes. They are needed to sell systems, build brands and to fuel discussions.

    • There are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  5. Basically means the people surveyed don’t care (or know) about Battle Royale.

    Doesn’t look good.

    • I certainly don’t care about it, it’s not my thing, but the only things I’ve picked up about the game are from TSA. Outside of TSA, hardly a whisper. There’s definitely some kind of pattern of complacency when it comes to Sony marketing its exclusives.

  6. Exclusives take a platform forward in a way that a third party might not be able to do who’s only aim is to make profit off the title, not actually sell consoles.

    The love & care put into Forza & GT5 Vs the ‘good enough’ NfS Shift for example. Sony went to town with Uncharted 2 & Killzone 2 in an effort to sell consoles, would a 3rd party have gone as far as Naughty Dog and Guerilla were able to thanks to Sony’s backing? I doubt it.

    As the gen reaches its final years the capacity of Blu-ray is coming into its own with some fantastic looking PS3 exclusives, but that capacity only really matters because the gen has been extended 2 years longer than it otherwise would have, throughout what would have been the ‘normal’ lifespan of this gen that capacity hasn’t mattered as far as mainstream adoption has been concerned although that capacity has paradoxically been needed to compensate for the PS3’s Blu-ray data transfer & fill-rate limitations.

    Exclusives will matter enormously as a key differentiator when the next gen launches too.

    One thing I have noticed this gen (in the UK anyway) is that PS3 exclusives don’t seem to trouble the charts for long, Uncharted, Killzones, God of War, inFamous etc seem to ride high for a week or two then rapidly disappear in comparison to Gears2, Forza 3 & 4 and of course Halo. I don’t know if that’s reflected in long term sales, but the peak seems to be shorter.

    • I agree to an extent well apart from Uncharted which sell’s better than gears was released in heavy gaming time.

      God sells well. Forza sold no where near GT5 did and that’s countingf both 3 and 4. But maybe it’s when Sony release they have too much competition. They need to release better :)

  7. Sony have certainly relied on their exclusives this generation, the console has been vastly more expensive then it’s competitors for most of it’s life cycle, inferior online and installs & updates which are absurd. Except for Blu Ray and exclusives I can’t think of a reason to pick up a PS3 over an Xbox.

    • 360 feels cheap compared to the PS3 imo prefer it over a 360 any day.

      • I agree the 60gb model PS3 (The one I have) does make the Xbox look cheap. Online being free is great but it’s slow and lacking features. While the XMB IMO is better then the dashboard it’s not a reason to pick a console over another.

    • free online

    • Because its not an Xbox of course ;)

    • Free online! With Xbox, you pay to play online on no dedicated servers and you are forced to look at shitty non game related adverts on the Dashboard!

      I hear Call of Duty has dedicated servers now and no host migration on 360………………..oh wait.

  8. Exclusives and or first party titles are what has kept me with the PS brand, although by doing so i have probably missed out on some ace games for other consoles. That said the ones i have dipped my toe into on the other machines just reinforce my perception that i made the right decision sticking with PS.
    If there are no exclusives then there is no point in making a choice of console except based on either price or looks. The power would be a mute point as they would essentially all play the same game.
    I am happy with the majority of games i can get now, I would need a massive incentive to tempt me to anohter brand now. I have considered dropping consoles altogether in favour of PC but issues i have had with some games turn me off. the idea i can buy a machine and put new discs in it for 120 years is very appealing, especially if i trust the brand to make the best games IMO.

  9. Exclusives are very important to me that why I choose Playstation as my number 1 console.

  10. If MGS4 wasn’t exclusive I probably wouldn’t of bought a PS3.

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