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