Are Platform Exclusives THE VERY DEVIL Or Kinda OK?

Once a week most weeks, team RPS gathers, eyes itself warily across the table then debates. Sometimes it’s about SCANDAL, like slow-motion Batman or No Man’s Sky hype, other times it’s about perennials, like best levels ever or if Early Access means the end times.

This week, we’re discussing the pitfalls and merits of platform exclusives, in the wake of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture being PS4-only, despite its devs making their name with the PC-only Dear Esther. In recent months similar has happened with Tomb Raider, and of course there’s a long history of this sort of thing, from your Marios to your Halos. Is this right? Is it sensible? And what about the other side of the coin, with XCOM 2 being PC-only? Not so grumbly then, are we? Let’s see if we can figure this one out, eh?

Adam: There are enough of us to form a gang. Let’s form a gang!

Alec: Who shall we fight?

John: Whom.

Alec: That’s settled, we’re fighting John. Actually, let’s fight PLATFORM EXCLUSIVES. This is a week in which every games journalist in Britishland is raving about The Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. Except us, because it’s only on PS4, because that kind of thing now happens to small games as well as big games. How do we feel about having treats out of reach like that?

Pip: Is this a good time to say that because of this reminder I have just set Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture downloading?

John: After the towering pile of wank that was Dear Esther, I’m sort of glad it’s over there in that corner.

Adam: There as a time when I wanted everything as soon as it released and would have been sad that I couldn’t play the new thing everyone is talking about. Nowadays, I don’t mind exclusives so much until time has passed. I feel like there should be a limit on these things so that I can draw up a list of my favourite games ever and know that they’re all playable in one place by just about anyone who has a computer. But much as I’d like to play Rapture – even though I agree with John about Dear Esther, I loved A Machine For Pigs – I’m happy to play it in five years time. It might feel more fresh then than it does now because all of the conversations around it will have died down, and it’ll seem like a quiet little thing. Unknown and mysterious.

Alec: FWIW Rapture is more comparable to an open air (and extremely English) Gone Home than Dear Esther. But, feelings about introspective clifftop muttering games aside, does it seem any better or worse that we’re seeing more ‘indie’ games sign up with one hardware manufacturer or the other? It’s not just the realm of big corps or first parties now?

John: I think I said similar in a recent Shottake, but I find it extremely concerning. Deals like these are removing independence from independents, and seeing them hand over a great deal more of their profits (and rights) than they would were they simultaneously selling the game via their own Humble widget, and even on a Steam page. Sure, it’s in return for a wodge of development cash, but that’s some heftily short-sighted thinking.

Graham: I think it’s sometimes in exchange for some development cash, and just as importantly in exchange for advertising, store placement and other perks that can make the difference between ‘Release Event Everyone Is Talking About’ and ‘Oh, that game’s out on Steam along with 11 other games today.’

I can understand why developers do it, is what I mean, and assume that they’re making the decisions that make sense for their business. And ignoring concerns for the developer, and approaching it as a player, I don’t know that it harms me substantially that there be a game that’s not immediately available to me.

Adam: I’m pleased that XCOM 2 isn’t going straight to console because I think it could benefit from being a PC/Mac/Linux game. Specifically a computer thing rather than a console thing. It’ll hopefully allow modding tools to be integrated more comprehensively, or at least for mods to be readily available. Supported on menus and whatever, so that they’re a part of the game rather than a separate thing.

If a game benefits from exclusivity – whether that’s because of tech, a control method, peripheral or some kind of support from a publisher – I don’t have a problem with that at all. Whatever gets the most best games made and hopefully in the hands of as many people as possible. I’m more concerned when games remain exclusive because there’s a belief that there’s no audience for them beyond the one they’ve already reached – that’s often a regional thing as much as a console thing though.

Alec: I was going bring up XCOM 2, because it’s an example of a PC ‘exclusive’ and also because we reacted positively to it – one of relatively few problems with XCOM was that it compromised on controls, feeling a bit off on both PC and console by seeking an arguably necessary middleground. So to John particularly, I guess, do you feel similarly about XCOM 2, that it’s unnecessarily denying itself to people even when it seemingly has a more concrete, less bag-of-cash-related reason for it?

John: When it’s pragmatic, it’s a different choice, I suppose. While I take no position of “But I DESERVE THIS!”, I do stare in wonder at developers and publishers who wish to narrow their potential sales. Sure, Microsoft and Sony are locked in a childish war, but when you cut off PC, you’re cutting your nose off too. Saying all that, I think it would behoove XCOM 2 to find a way to innovatively use a controller to allow itself a console port, for the sake of making more money, certainly.

Pip: Potential sales aren’t guaranteed cash, though. Just because something is available on all platforms doesn’t mean the entire world of game players will buy it. I can understand the appeal of a definite chunk of change and a promise to expose that game to an audience. Besides, the point of console exclusives is pretty much to shift particular hardware. Console manufacturers then need to make that deal attractive or pragmatic or whatever else to the developers and publishers.

Alec: Going back to Rapture, it really is very, very pretty, and as much as that might be superficial in many respects, here it’s propping up the recreation of a very particular environment, which is what’s so startling about it. I sincerely doubt it could have been anything like so beautiful on just proceeds from Dear Esther, and if my inkling is right, we might well see this on PC a little later anyway. And we’ll get a better version because of it. Is that not worth it, to some degree?

Pip: I really can’t remember how this came up or with whom but I remember a developer talking about timed exclusives and how that gives you breathing room and lets you focus on getting one platform right instead of trying to meet all the requirements for everything all at once. They were saying that that’s a big ask if you’re an indie.

John: Do people think there’s a notion of betrayal when an indie who found their audience and their initial success in the open fields of the PC, then offs and puts their game in a walled garden away from the people who first supported them? (I phrase it emotionally to make that point, rather than think this way. Although I definitely sometimes think this way.)

Pip: I don’t, and I’d question the idea of the open fields of the PC. Most of the people I know who play games outside the industry are console gamers. I guess they’re only open fields if you’re a PC gamer.

John: Open in the sense that it’s non-proprietary, accessed by all with a functioning typewriter machine, and not owned/licensed by a corporation.

Pip: I get what you’re getting at but there are still divisions within that. I’ve owned a Mac and some devs don’t’ bother with Mac versions of things. Same with Linux. What I’m getting at is that there are still gardens, it just depends on your perspective.

My main problem with exclusives is the way they affects other people. I said earlier that exclusives are a way of selling hardware. I’m in the position where I can afford a PS4 or an Xbox One as well as my gaming PC. Someone else might have to choose and that’s a source of stress. You try to work out which of these not-insubstantial investments is likely to house as many of the games you want to play or work with as many of the publishers you tend to like as possible and plump for that. Then what if it was the wrong choice for you?

Adam: I want a PS4 and can’t bring myself to buy one because there are so few games. The PC garden might be unwieldy and overgrown (sometimes it feels like the world’s largest hedge maze) but the PS4 one looks absolutely tiny. It’s a flowerpot. That’s not to say it isn’t packed full of good things but I can’t bring myself to spend the money on a console until the end of the generational cycle when there’s plenty to pick from. That’s partly to do with my gaming habits – I pick at things briefly and then move on more often than not – but I think it’s also a fair reflection of the games that are available. That said, I’m probably ignoring quite a few smaller games that I’ve already played on PC.

But to go back to John’s point quickly as well, I don’t think any developer has a duty to the people who played their previous games. I am disappointed when a game I want to play isn’t available to me immediately but I shrug and move on. I don’t feel as if I’m owed anything other than the game I bought.

Alec: It’s interesting that we might consider there to be a moral duty to one’s established fans, as though making and selling a game isn’t an inherently capitalistic act. I mean, is it OK for people to want more money and more players even if it denies others their games? Isn’t that why they’re doing this anyway, at least partially?

John: It still feels a bit dickish though, right? I know it’s not a good argument, but it’s like a band that was supported by a loyal following announcing they’re not allowed to listen to the first major label album. It just feels a bit rubbish.

Adam: Yeah, but the console manufacturers can get them a gig at an arena. Releasing on Steam, you’re likely to get the backroom of the pub round the corner at 3am. And then you’re out.

John: Absolutely, I get the reasons why. But I’m trying to voice that weird feeling that it’s a bit crappy for the previous players, even though.

Alec:The other side of the coin: are there any platform exclusives which feel a bit… special because they’re only available in this one particular way? I.e. you make the effort.

Adam: Oh god no. Not as far as I’m concerned. I used to like seeking things out – bought Clockwork Orange on VHS back in the day from a dodgy guy in Affleck’s Palace – but now I enjoy recommending things and sharing them. When I play something I like, or listen to an album watch a film or whatever, I usually run around telling everyone I know about it. If I have to then pause and say “you must climb the highest mountain to see this thing” or “it only runs on hardware you don’t own”, I deflate.

Pip: I like having games I can only play on console. But that’s because my PC is a place where I work as well as play. If I’m online and on my PC there are a terrifyingly large number of ways I can be interrupted or distracted. If I’m playing Dota I might be hearing my gchat go off or get a Steam notification or see something else pop up. Or I’ll check my email out of habit or refresh Twitter and see a work thing. If I’m playing Destiny I’m playing Destiny. The only notifications I get are people asking if I want to play Destiny with them.

Alec: Yeah, I’m the same. Console is a quiet space to retreat to, and the ritual of it all, the right seat, the big telly, feels like doing something profoundly different to PC. So whenever I do do that, I much prefer to do it with a game I can’t play on PC.

John: I still feel most comfortable at my PC. Perhaps because it’s in my study, and the big TV is in a communal family room. But then I’ve also got an armchair in here, so I can switch from office chair to lounging, and use the same machine. Although I am RUBBISH at ignoring distractions from the other monitor.

Alec: OK, to finish: console exclusive you feel warmest and fuzziest about despite fist-shaking at the conditions it’s available under?

Graham: I really like Fire Emblem: Awakening on the 3DS. I think it’s a brilliant strategy game, although I only shake my fist at its platform as much as I shake my first at Creme Eggs only being available certain months during the year. Which is to say that my letter writing campaign to Cadbury’s has lasted decades and will cease only when they submit.

John: So much on my Nintendo DS. Dozens and dozens of games from back in the day, most especially Slitherlink and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The DS always felt like Other, rather than As Well As. It made sense for games to be uniquely designed for it. More recently, on my phone, ALPHABEAR!

Adam: The Fatal Frame (Project Zero here in Europe) trilogy. I still think the third game, The Tormented, is one of the best ever made. A wonderful horror game that does things I’ve never seen anywhere else, playing with the idea of its own position in a trilogy of loosely connected stories. It’s brilliant and not enough people played it because it came out on PS2 right before the release of the PS3.

Pip: GoldenEye on the N64. Amd Hollis’ other masterwork Bonsai Barber on the Wii.

Alec: Night Trap on MegaCD for me. I just love that you have to spend all that money on a device you basically have no other use for, only to have a horrible time in the name of seeing the faintest flash of low-res underwear. That’s a metaphor for console exclusives if ever there was one.

John: POP!

Alec: More seriously: the first Halo, pre-PC version. So entwined with the Xbox and its ridiculous controller, the establishment of it as a party machine, so different and so big and so silly compared to what was going on on PC. It felt like the whole exclusive/lots of money thing had actually paid off, at least for a while. Then Halo 2 and 3 came out and urgh.

OK, in conclusion all games should be exclusive to Linux. The end.

107 Comments

  1. Freud says:

    I don’t think there is anything inherently positive about exclusivity. I think the more platforms a game is released on, the better it is.

    I can understand why it makes financial sense for developers to do it. People are risk averse and if you can remove a lot of risk by getting paid to release for a console, why not.

    • Archonsod says:

      I guess it comes down to the fact that an exclusive means you’re only trying to please some of the people, rather than all platform attempts to please all of the people. I think there’s still enough skew in terms of market tastes on each different platform (although this probably stems from exclusivity in the first place) that it can be worthwhile to focus on a specific market rather than trying to appeal across multiple markets (and therefore run the risk of failing to appeal to anyone).

    • 2lab says:

      I think most games should developed on a single platform, with all the work put into that, you make the best game you can, if it works, you port it.

      Some of us will have to wait but we all get better games.

    • dreadsabot says:

      There have been exclusives since forever, though I am not sure when it became a think with a name. Back in the days of cartridge gaming for the most part you just knew 1st party games would remain on the 1st party consoles. Period and that was okay because it gave you a reason to buy that particular console.

      Nowadays the issue is how exclusives come to be. I think there are 4 versions of exclusivity and each should be addressed differently.

      1. First Party Games
      These should be exclusive for a reason. I don’t think they negatively affect the industry and should remain so.

      2. 3rd Party new IP
      These are also OK to be exclusive for the most part (this includes indie games) As with games that no one has ever heard of linking it to a specific platform can make it easier for the game to get press or in the case of a game like Titan Fall an No Man’s Sky the devs can also get advertisement from the console manufacturer.

      3. Established 3rd Party IP, previously on multiple platforms
      These to me represent the bane of exclusivity deals. Other than pure greed or one console manufacturer wanted to prevent the other console from getting it there is no place in the industry for these kind of deals.

      Because the game is established already you are more likely to have a fan base split across platforms and now you are limiting not only sales but the opportunity for all fans to enjoy. The biggest offender of this crime is Street Fighter 5. I don’t recall the last time a street fighter game was targeted to not hit all platforms. I remember back in the Sega Genesis days. All 3 consoles managed to land Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition and the brand was better served for it.

      4. PC Exclusives
      There are just too many instances where a game that was designed for PC should simply remain on PC and XCOM is one of those games. The biggest hit I think the game took was it’s focus on mouse control seems to make mouse control wonky. IMHO limiting it to the platform it is most likely to move more units on it a very good choice.

  2. TechnicalBen says:

    My opinion on this piece is available on [insert cynical reference to a competitors website] due to an exclusivity deal.

  3. draglikepull says:

    I think XCom worked really well with a controller. I slightly prefered playing it that way to keyboard and mouse. So I don’t think they need to figure out how to make a good controller scheme, because they’ve already got one.

    • silentdan says:

      It also worked great on touchscreens. I had XCOM on PC, and XCOM:EW on tablet, and I actually slightly prefer the latter.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      Unfortunately, that control scheme came at the cost of lackluster mouse & keyboard controls. Frankly, the sacrifice was really not worth it.

  4. TimRobbins says:

    Competition is good and it must work if they keep using exclusives as a tactic, which is fine. It has never affected me though. There are so many games to play on whatever platform you have available to you, no particular game has driven me to buy hardware, and I don’t care if I don’t get to play an exclusive when there are thousands of great games I haven’t touched yet.

  5. Kitsunin says:

    I have quite the issue with a company releasing games on one platform, then not releasing their sequels on the platform. It feels like being tricked. “Here you are. My, you like this, don’t you? Wonderful, now come over here, that’s a good boy, go ahead and PAY $600 FOR A CONSOLE + TELEVISION RAWR!”

    Do they owe us the sequels? I suppose not, but it’s like if a friend made you coffee everyday, then stopped and wanted you to buy their makers and beans, but you can’t afford them. You’re left craving more, and kind of pissed that they got you hooked in the first place.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Every time I think about Bloodborne I get a headache, seriously. Dark Souls 3 isn’t going to relieve it either, because once I finish it, too, I know I’m just gonna want moar of that fresh DS experience, and I’ll never have it. I wish I could just forget that game exists.

    • Matt_W says:

      OTOH, when it came time a couple months ago to either upgrade my PC in order to play newfangled games like The Witcher 3 ($1200) or buy a PS4 ($400), the choice wasn’t too hard.

      • fish99 says:

        $1200 would buy a whole new PC, couldn’t you just change GPU?

      • Kitsunin says:

        Yeah, if you already have a PC, even if your processor and your GPU are well outdated, getting new ones still won’t cost more than $500. On the other hand a console + mediocre television is $600 (and it takes up a bunch of space which isn’t really acceptable when you have to move a lot.)

  6. cpeninja says:

    Exclusives are NEVER okay no matter what – well unless it is exclusive to a system I have in which case I’m okay with it.

    But those games I can’t play? I’m against that.

  7. silentdan says:

    Corporate culture, of which exclusivity is a significant component, is part of why I don’t have a console. The last one I owned was a PS2 alongside a PSP. I have an iPad for mobile gaming now, and stationary gaming is all PC for me.

    Console exclusives rankle me because they’re about backroom deals, not platform capabilities. When something is PC exclusive, it’s almost always because it wouldn’t work well on another platform. When something is exclusive to PS4 or XBox, it’s because someone got paid to make it so. When something is Wii-exclusive, I’m not bothered, because the Wii really does have unique capabilities. Sure, there might’ve been cash incentives to build the game for the Wii’s hardware, but with PS4/XBox, there isn’t even that. It’s just one company trying to game the system to screw the other company, and its customers.

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical to dislike Sony/MS exclusives while giving PC/Wii/iOS a pass. Exclusives happen for different reasons, and it’s the shady reasons I object to, not exclusivity in principle.

    • Matt_W says:

      What capabilities does iOS have that similar Android platforms don’t? What capabilities does a PC have that an XBOX One (which is basically a Windows PC) doesn’t?

      • silentdan says:

        Sorry, I expressed that poorly. By “iOS” I just meant “touchscreen devices.” Phones/tables/hybrids. Putting out a product that only works properly on touchscreens is okay by me.

        I’m not going to explain the numerous major differences between an XBone and a PC, though. Those are obvious to anyone.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        iOS has less platform variability — you know exactly what models are available, what specs, what resolutions, etc., and a larger company could realistically buy one of each and test on all of them. Android has more features and a more open model, but that also means your code needs to handle more possible hardware configurations.

        Same deal for XBone versus PC, except there’s also a significant performance gap between them, which also often comes with higher expectations for things like graphics quality and framerate. Developing for PC tends to involve more freedom from hardware limitations, but also more debugging of unique software and hardware configurations that you didn’t expect or test for.

        Between individual consoles, even of a similar overall “power level” (hardware capability and performance), there’s still things like the quality of the dev tools, which hardware aspects are most bottlenecking you and hindering development, etc etc.

        And finally, there’s also a question of target audience — if you’re only going to target one platform (for cost or expertise reasons), you want to pick the one that most aligns with who you think will be playing your game.

        • noodlecake says:

          I would imagine, in most cases, that an XBone or a PS4 is more powerful than a gaming PC. I can’t imagine you’re hitting a very big market at all if you’re trying to sell the game that requires better hardware than a PS4. It’s sort of a relatively small elitist group who will spend that much money on hardware.

          • silentdan says:

            In most cases, consoles are objectively weaker than gaming PCs.

          • noodlecake says:

            In most cases gaming PCs are objectively weaker than consoles.

            See, we can all make unfounded claims!

            Of the people I know who own gaming PCs, only one of them has a gaming PC that can run games that look as good, or better, than the graphics on a PS4. I spent £700 on mine 4 years ago. At the time it was a fair bit better than the current consoles. Now it’s not at all! This is true of most of my friends who game on their PCs. They all have low to middle range gaming PCs that are at least a cuple of years old.

          • rmsgrey says:

            If you haven’t upgraded your PC hardware for a couple of years, it’s no longer a cutting-edge gaming machine.

            Generally, at release, consoles are comparable to high-end gaming PCs. Toward the end of a console’s life-cycle, they’re less powerful than the room-full of PCs that corporate office is practically giving away.

            Consoles have two advantages over PCs. Firstly, that PC games aren’t targeted at the cutting-edge gaming machines – they’re targeted at machines that are 5-10 years old with upscaling options for more powerful machines, so, even at the end of a console’s lifecycle, they’re still competitive with the min spec PCs. Secondly, because a console is much closer to being a fixed target, console games (particularly platform exclusives that aren’t made with portability in mind) can optimise much more narrowly for that platform, so look better even when running on a machine that’s technically worse.

          • malkav11 says:

            It used to be true that consoles at launch were competitive with the top end of PC gaming, and that they were gradually outclassed over the cycle. But in this generation, they’ve started a bit behind and are only going to get more so over time. It’s also no longer true that you have to keep upgrading PCs every year or two to keep up. With most games being targetted at consoles as their primary SKU (or being relatively system-friendly indie titles), and the console state of the art currently being a bit behind the PC state of the art, you could reasonably expect to be able to get decent gaming performance out of a high-spec PC built now for several years to come. Or you could stick with a medium rig for a bit, upgrade in a couple years, and have a comfortably superior experience for probably the entire rest of the console generation.

            I myself haven’t upgraded my CPU in about 5-6 years and my GPU is at least a couple of years old and wasn’t top of the line then. I still crank most games up to high or very high without significant issue. (I do plan to make a couple of upgrades in the next tax return season, admittedly.)

          • Raiyne says:

            Consoles generally hold their own against mid-range PCs for about 1-2 years. Your mid-range rig from 4 years ago is therefore more akin to PS3 standards. However, the differences in processing requirements also changes the nature of what is necessary. There are people who can get by perfectly well with old CPUs because there haven’t been significant increases in CPU demands from newer games. So nowadays, a PC gamer probably only needs to upgrade his graphics card maybe every 2 years if he wants to remain ‘decently current’. It really isn’t an unfounded claim that consoles are simply inferior to PCs, the evidence is abundant all over the internet. Maybe if this was 15 years ago your statement could have some merit, but you’re really just showing your ignorance. If you think PC gamers that have stronger rigs than consoles are ‘elites’, then maybe you should take your head out of the sand and look around. It has been getting cheaper and easier with every passing year, to be a PC gamer.

        • Zyrusticae says:

          “[…] but also more debugging of unique software and hardware configurations that you didn’t expect or test for.”

          I keep reading things like this, but I suspect that this isn’t nearly as much of a factor as people assume it is. Most hardware-specific code is hidden within drivers that games developers never, ever touch. It’s the hardware vendors that have to worry about those things, not the programmers working on the game code. Problems with specific hardware configurations are likely unique to that configuration rather than an issue with the game engine.

          The more annoying and insidious ones are software compatibility issues, which are much more common and harder to fully prevent. However, in each of these cases there are easy workarounds for any Google-savvy customer to make use of. Thus, I’m not sure these are a significant factor, either.

          The most important thing, from a graphics programmers’ perspective, is simply scalability: how much performance can the end-user save by simply changing settings around? If it doesn’t go low enough, then a number of customers will never be able to play the game. On the flip side, however, it can be possible to go too far and create low settings that look positively awful in order to chase that performance target. There’s a balance to be struck here, and it’s entirely up to the developers’ personal judgment to figure out where that is.

          Either way, pretty sure the whole ‘but there are MILLIONS of possible PC configurations!’ thing is overblown tripe, especially in this day and age.

          • Baines says:

            Look at the forums for pretty much any PC game in the period after release, and see how many different complaints come from people running different hardware setups?

            Sometimes it is the OS at fault, or the devs not accounting for OS quirks. Sometimes it is specific video cards, or maybe an entire line of cards, that could again be on the card manufacturer or on the devs. Sometimes someone is trying to run the game on a below spec system, but sometimes that is less obvious as specs are still amorphous and similar power cards can vary in different critical ways. You get all sorts of conflicts and confusion, and sometimes it can take months to even track down the real cause, but the end result is still people finding their shiny new PC game crashes or runs terribly on their PC.

            Look at the forums for cheap ports, or ports done by inexperienced or underfunded teams.

            Heck, the forums for the beta test of the PC port of KOF XIII could have given you a whole list of issues ranging from developer software to graphics card drivers. It ran on the original PC-based arcade machine, and it ran on the devs test machines, but the beta showed a ton of issues from graphical glitches on AMD cards to degraded performance when run on an SSD to running at the wrong speed when the monitor was set to above 60Hz to the game mysteriously eating a ton of unneeded CPU cycles that just happened to make the game perform poorly on CPUs that were well within its real minimum specs… All issues that only showed up when run on various other hardware configurations.

            There are a lot of extra concerns for the developers. Take, for example, controllers. Controllers are a lot simpler on console simply because there are only so many devices that a console can be expected to have, and it is up to the user to have a pad. PC has multiple ways to read controllers, which can vary by OS as well, in addition to an unknown number of controllers, and the whole issue of how to deal with PC and gamepad together, and a bunch more headaches. Then you’ve got other concerns, like how much memory you have, how much VRAM you have, whether all VRAM is the same speed (a critical issue thanks to Nvidia’s new chipset, and one that has already caused problems in games), wide ranges in CPU speeds, what abilities different graphics cards actually have and how well they perform them, etc.

    • fish99 says:

      If Microsoft didn’t have the Xbox division I could well see them paying for PC exclusives, in a world where they wanted to push PC gaming as a platform.

      Also I don’t get giving Nintendo a free ride when you’ve always had to buy their hardware to play their games.

      • rmsgrey says:

        The point of giving the Wii/Wii-U a free pass on platform exclusives is that they have very different human interface capabilities – if M$ had committed to the Kinect rather than backtracking to PC-in-a-box then there would be a similar argument in favour of XBOne exclusives.

        What would a PC port of Wii Sports look like? Would you use a mouse? Would you have to spend several times the price of the game to get a set of peripherals for it? That’s why it’s okay to have Wii exclusives.

        Meanwhile, when I look at my XBox 360 and PS3 controllers, you could make a 360 controller in the shape of a Dualshock 3, or vice versa (ignoring trademark issues) and it would have all the same functionality. There may be some subtle differences in capabilities, but, generally, you can port between PS3 and 360 without even touching the control scheme…

        • malkav11 says:

          Kinect is supported on PC, although I think it’s the 360 incarnation and there are some limitations. But Microsoft could, if they wanted to, have updated that support. And you can get the Wiimote working on PC as well. They’re not super well suited to the typical PC desktop setup, granted. But then, they’re not well suited to be input methods for videogames either.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          There may be some subtle differences in capabilities, but, generally, you can port between PS3 and 360 without even touching the control scheme…

          I do this very thing with my PC of all things. I use my PS3 controller via the USB cable to play some PC games (usually console ports like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Darksiders, Sleeping Dogs etc.) & I have to configure the 3rd party drivers to make the games think the controller is an Xbox 360 controller for them to be happy about it.

  8. baozi says:

    Thing is, I’m not going to buy a PS4 just because there’s one or two games that I would perhaps like to play on it, at least at the moment…there are more than enough games on PC and I’d rather put that money into a new one. So I guess it’s both our losses.

    • Awesomeclaw says:

      Yeah, I’m basically in the situation that I would buy a new console if there were enough exclusives for it that I could justify it, but the only PS4 game I really want is Bloodborne, and there aren’t any XBone games I want that aren’t just rereleases.

    • silentdan says:

      Actually, that’s an excellent point. Back in the day, an entire calendar year would see maybe 3-4 worthwhile games. If one of those was off-limits because you chose the “wrong” hardware, it was quite a blow. No one debated their Game of the Year choices, because there weren’t enough contestants to even frame it that way.

      These days, it rains gaming gold. I’m not desperately seeking something that might be worth my time, I’m desperately seeking criteria for whittling down the available options. Not owning the hardware needed for a particular game lets me strike it gleefully from the wishlist, as I zero in on whatever I’m going to buy this month.

      Making your game exclusive to a particular console does not entice me to buy your console. It makes me write you off.

    • Matt_W says:

      There are many many games on the PS4, just very few exclusives. If you’ve already got a gaming PC capable of playing new stuff, it makes sense to keep doing that. If you’re looking for a new gaming machine, it might make sense to consider a console.

      • baozi says:

        While there are many cross-platform games nowadays, many of the games I like to play are in first person, and I hate playing first person games with controllers (I’ve tried). So I’m probably going to buy cross-platform titles like the next Deus Ex or Dishonored, but I’m definitely not going to play them on a console. Which means that at one point I will have to get a more capable computer, which means getting a PS4 would again only be for a few exclusives.

      • Christo4 says:

        I don’t really agree. PC has some things consoles don’t.
        And one of them is 1080p and 60 fps, or how i want to build a new pc to have 1440p and 60 fps.
        It doesn’t even compare to a console having to upscale in order to have 1080p and it’s not even 60fps.
        Yeah it’s not all about the graphics, but c’mon, not even 1080p and 60fps… My 5 year old laptop has 720p and 60 fps.

      • malkav11 says:

        As far as I can tell the only scenarios in which it currently makes sense to seriously consider a console as your sole gaming platform are:

        If you can’t afford a capable gaming PC. They’re not actually that much more expensive than current gen consoles and you’ll have saved the difference in game prices within a year, but still, it’s too much of an ask for some budgets.

        If you just really would rather be in the stereotypical “couch gaming” scenario and aren’t willing to figure out how to get a PC to do that.

        If you primarily play multiplayer games and the people you do it with are on a particular console and not PC.

        If you mostly play some specific subset of games that don’t come to PC.

        Because as far as I can tell, otherwise PC offers by far the widest game library with ports of the lion’s share of AAA development and being ground zero for 95% of smaller/indie development, not to mention decades of back catalog; has the most control flexibility; is generally much cheaper on an ongoing basis; continues to offer the best overall audiovisual experience barring port-specific issues like with Arkham Knight or the original RE4 port; and of course there’s mods, etc etc.

        I mean, obviously the people reading this site are going to be a PC gaming oriented crowd so I presumably don’t need to sell you on the benefits. But there was a time when console gaming and PC gaming were very different tracks and it made sense to do both. At the moment? PC gaming offers almost everything consoles do and way more.

  9. Geebs says:

    Surely it should be “bottomless ocean of wank”? In Dear Esther’s case, though, it’s more like somebody has set up a Dyson sphere of wank and is using the captured energy to convert all matter in the solar system into wanktronium.

  10. kud13 says:

    I would like to have all the games available for my PC, preferably working with M+K.

    However, if something is exclusive to one of the playboxes, so be it. I’ve yet to hear of an exclusive so earth-shatteringly amazing to compel me to buy an expensive piece of hardware that’s for games only.

    One interesting thing that springs to mind re: console exclusivity is smth that’s criss-crossed with my rant about how Blizzard alienated me as a single-player gamer.
    The console version of Diablo 3 actually supports single-player offline mode. THAT is a travesty, imho (not the fact that the consoles have it. The fact that Blizzard have made one version more feature-complete than others is).

  11. Chufty says:

    I can’t watch The Newsroom because it’s on Amazon Prime and I only have Netflix. My car doesn’t have a heated windscreen because it’s not a Ford. My local doesn’t take my American Express and I can’t collect Nectar points when I shop at Tesco!

    Life is so hard.

    • JFS says:

      I can’t begin to understand how people even put up with this “life” thing. Terrible.

      Also, about a decade and a half ago, basically every console game was “console exclusive”, and the same for PC. I never played Baldur’s Gate on Nintendo, or Mario Kart on PC. How did we ever cope with this?! And how come it’s a problem nowadays?

      • Kitsunin says:

        Because we’re realizing more and more that it’s totally arbitrary, and there’s no reason (well, economics are a strong reason, but very abstract and theoretically unnecessary) we should have to choose. As consoles become more expensive it also becomes less viable to “just get them all” (and thank fuck, as a kid it seriously pissed me off how often my friends would pity me for only having a PS2)

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      None of that compares to the travesty of actually having to run Windows (ach! *spit*) on my gaming box in order to not be locked out of the vast majority of “PC” gaming.

      The horror. Life is harsh and unfair. :(

  12. JP says:

    Glad this got a round table. I’ve said many times I think exclusives are terrible for the medium of games – imagine having to keep around a separate Columbia Records record player if you wanted to listen to Bob Dylan – and I’m pretty sure my stance as a solo dev (not having shipped anything yet) is that I would only make a game I’ve made exclusive if the alternative was that the game would never see the light of day. Even in that case, if the exclusivity were lifetime I probably wouldn’t bother because the lifespan of the game would then come down to the supported lifetime of the system. In 10-15 years time it would be as if I’d never even made it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      The thing is, record players were never really about innovation in hardware. Incremental upgrades at best, and aside from new speeds, all those were about quality-of-life for record users, rather than actual jumps in audio reproduction technology — nothing that would break the vinyl record “standards”.

      If there had actually been competing audio technology techniques, and a significant remastering cost to produce each one (beyond just a one-time purchase of recording hardware), things might have been much more similar to today.

      • JP says:

        Game consoles have only rarely been about innovation in hardware for the past 20 years. Aside from the Wii, they’ve largely been interchangeable, any under-the-hood differences being invisible to the user. Console companies WANT us to think exclusives exist to support their right to innovate in hardware but in practice this is almost never true, it’s about business – specifically screwing over your competitor and their customers.

    • iainl says:

      You may not need a “Columbia Records” player to listen to that label’s output. But only the other day I was trying to work out whether I wanted to buy an album on vinyl, CD or download because each of them has exclusive “bonus tracks”, the musical equivalent of DLC.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    The only sorts of exclusives I object to are where a console manufacturer makes a developer sign a contract that prevents them bringing their game to other platforms, indefinitely (or for an excessive amount of time).

    These are also the only sorts of games I truly consider to be “exclusives” — the rest are just games that haven’t been ported (yet).

    There’s really no way to make everything truly universal, because where do you draw the line? PS4/XBoxOne/”PC” seems to be the norm, but “PC” already tends to exclude Mac/Linux (for “AAA” stuff), and that list also omits other platforms like WiiU, mobile devices, etc.

    As such, I tend to support the status quo, minus exclusivity contracts. You make the game you want to make, on the platform that you feel best suits it. If you feel there’s enough of a market to offset the cost, port it to others. If you want to minimise that threshold and keep your options open, choose a development platform that makes porting easy.

    If there’s a game you want to play, and it’s not available on your platform, you have one of two options: Buy the platform it’s on, or lobby them to port to your platform. That’s it.

    No, there’s definitely no automatic entitlement to receive a game on your platform of choice. Even when a series has traditionally lived on a particular console, chances are that any long-running series has already spanned multiple devices — they’re already “forcing” you to buy the next generation console to keep up. If they choose to switch at the next generation jump, that’s their call — you just need to choose whether to switch with them.

    If you really want to have everything, you’ll need to buy everything; that’s the nature of platform competition. Otherwise, you need to make hard decisions about what matters most to you. There are very few companies that are going to develop/port things on your platform at a loss, just out of a sense of duty or loyalty.

    • baozi says:

      Of course a developer can just take away a game away from a platform, just like a consumer can just shrug it off, say meh, and play something else. Entertainment isn’t scarce, developers and publishers aren’t entitled to loyalty, either.

  14. Jeroen D Stout says:

    Well, well, well, I see John is being objectively wrong again, which he always reserves for discussions of Myst and Dear Esther.

  15. Jools says:

    Exclusivity means a lot of things, and I think which kind of exclusivity you’re talking about is important.

    If something is exclusive because it’s being developed on a particular platform for REASONS and there’s no strong justification (financial or otherwise) to port it, then that’s fine.

    Paid exclusivity is inherently consumer unfriendly, though, and I’m not comfortable with trying to justify it for as “okay” for any reason. If some PC megacorp were paying Firaxis to keep XCOM 2 exclusively on the PC I would be unhappy, even though I haven’t owned a console since the 360. Paid exclusivity takes consumers out of the equation entirely. It says, “our platform doesn’t offer any particular advantage to the consumer, so we’re doing an end run around them and bribing developers/publishers to choose us over a competitor.” I think that kind of thing should be called out and derided for the nonsense it is, regardless of whether it happens to be beneficial to your particular platform of choice.

  16. Paul says:

    Exclusives suck and this generation more than any other. I find the concept of buying three almost identical boxes, with identical x86 CPUs and AMD GPUs just so I can play Arma/Uncharted/Forza ridiculous. I understand why it is that way, all the business reasons etc, but simply from perspective of a gamer and customer, it is bizzare buying three nearly identical pieces of hardware when one (PC) could handle everything, at higher quality too.

    And all the arguments about console being comfortable and without distractions…give me a break. I have PC connected to 55″ plasma and when I play Witcher 3 in that sweet ultra at 60fps, I quit by background steam friends and other IMs. No distractions, best experience possible.

    I do own PS3 (and intend to get PS4 once it has more games I want than just Bloodborne), but I would rather spend the money on games themselves.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thulsa Hex says:

      With the advent of HDMI, PCs are definitely so much more viable as console alternatives. I have a GTX 970 connected to my living room TV via a long HDMI cable. Combined with the wireless Xbox 360 controller adapter, it provides the perfect console experience. It was simply amazing to play the Witcher 3 at 1080p60 at almost full settings on the big TV. I’m able to do the same with MGSV: Ground Zeroes, Ultra Street Fighter IV and Alien: Isolation on “ultra” equivalent settings. Big Picture Mode on Steam even does a decent job at providing a TV friendly GUI. It all feels pretty luxurious, yet the only extra cost to bridge the gap was the cable.

      Then, if I want to play Wolfenstein: TNO or Civ 5 (or do some work), it’s a simple case of pressing “Windows key + P” to cycle through the external display options, et voila! It switches to the monitor (mine is connected by DVI) and I’m back at the desk with a trusty M+KB. It really is seamless nowadays.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thulsa Hex says:

        Revision: In addition to the HDMI cable, you’d of course need to buy controllers if you didn’t have any, but I happened to have a couple of 360 controllers lying around from last gen. It’s a big plus to be able to re-purpose them for PC play.

      • Paul says:

        I have the exact same setup. 55″ plasma and 24″ LCD connected, plasma as primary since I play most games on it, and whenever playing something mouse driven (Wasteland 2 etc) I just win+P and that’s that. It is pretty wonderful, yeah. Best of both worlds. Which is why consoles piss me off. I want to play Bloodborne, but having to get $500 hardware first, which is three times slower than my already existing PC, makes the whole experience feel shitty.

  17. aircool says:

    Someone comes up to you at work and offers you a new contract, with an easier workload (you only need to concentrate on one system) where you can spend more time and effort getting it ‘right’. They also increase your budget and salary in the process.

    It’s a no brainer.

    • silentdan says:

      It depends on if the subsidy payments make the difference between releasing the game, and not. It’s a no-brainer if it’s the only way you can launch, but otherwise, there’s more to think about, such as, the sales you’re losing by not offering the game to a wider audience, or the control over your future that a self-interested giant now holds.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      They also have a clause that says that any work you produce under that contract will only ever be seen by their platform’s audience, forever denying the benefit of your labour to a significant portion of your potential audience.

      Whether you sign that contract depends on a) whether you’re more interested in providing entertainment to everyone or just getting paid, and b) whether you could still provide that entertainment at all without the contract.

      I’m not trying to downplay (b) here. I’m sure a lot of devs have signed these deals because they feel it’s the only way to make their next game, or even to keep their company solvent.

  18. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I LIKED DEAR ESTHER YOU CAN ALL GO AND SHOVE THREE PIN PLUGS UP YOUR BUMS AFTER ACCIDENTALLY TREADING ON AN UPTURNED ONE. A PLUG, THAT IS. I DONT WANT FOR YOU TO TREAD ON AN UPTURNED BUM. I HOPE YOU FOLLOWED OTHERWISE THE IMPACT OF MY STATEMENT IS DILUTED SOMEWHAT. ALSO IF TWO PIN EUROPEAN PLUGS ARE MORE PAINFUL IN THE BOTTOM PLEASE COULD YOU USE ONE OF THEM IF ITS NOT TOO MUCH BOTHER

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      ON SECOND THOUGHTS I AM NOT A FAN OF EXCLUSIVES SO PLEASE USE ANY REGIONAL ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR OF YOUR CHOOSING

  19. hungrycookpot says:

    I agree in that I have some games which I far prefer on console. There’s something about tv, the armchair, the controller that gives me a different feel than playing at my PC. But not everyone has this feeling for the same games, or at all. I am intimately aware of the problems of having to support multiple architectures, and so I do understand when developers make the choice to not support multiple systems. But I think this is something that the industry as whole needs to move past. This competition and schmoozing for exclusives is silly (but likely profitable). Unify the console architectures with PC and release games for everything all at once, let us play MP on xbox with our friends with PS4 or PC.

    • grrrz says:

      yeah this thing about the big tv is totally a construct, today a tv is a monitor is a tv, and a console is a computer is a console, so you can put whatever in whatever order, play it with the controller of your choosing, and on a stool or a comfy couch, it doesn’t change a thing. only difference is consoles are totally closed platform, pc is either closed (steam or other) or a bit more open.
      haven’t ever own a tv (or a living room so to speak for that matter) so this concept even seems a bit alien to me.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    It’s funny you mention Halo.
    When Bungie announced the switch from Mac & PC development to Xbox exclusivity, I felt massively jilted.

    I’d been a big fan of Bungie’s games prior to Halo, and they were amongst the bravest and most interesting developers out there at the time. Every franchise of theirs was distinctly different, apart from the one unifying factor of all having exceptional stories.
    That, and they were champions of the Mac platform (which I was a user of at the time).

    Halo was promising to be something radical and new as well; the pre-Xbox development sounded more open-world with a distinct strategic layer and interesting online play where you’d fight with your friends for control of different sections of the world.

    Then Xbox stuck its dick in the mix and we ended up with a drastically stripped down concept, platform exclusivity, and most tragically, the death of all other Bungie franchises as they became the Halo branch of Microsoft.

    I still wonder what Bungie might have become if they’d resisted the lure of Microsoft dollars. I don’t think we’d all be playing Myth 6, Marathon: Tycho’s Resurrection or Oni 10. I’m sure they would have kept pushing the envelope and exploring new, interesting opportunities.

    We got a little taste of what could have been Alex Seropian, Bungie’s Carmack, toddled off on his own and created Stubbs the Zombie. It was fun, but I think the time as a Microsoft drone had left its mark, and it didn’t sing with that uniqueness that pre-Halo Bungie titles did.

    I rank Bungie before Xbox up there with Looking Glass for innovation.

    Post Xbox, they’re akin to the shambling corpse of Infinity Ward, and they’ve forgotten how to make anything apart from first person shooters.

    • Chirez says:

      This. Exactly this. Halo? ‘different to what was going on on PC’? Halo would have BEEN going on on PC, probably at least a year earlier when it would actually have been a revolutionary FPS, rather than the sequel spewing horror it actually became.
      I may be recalling this through a lens of bitter tears, but Halo was set to be the next big thing in FPS gaming when Microsoft snapped it up. And they did so specifically because they needed a huge name to nail to their new gaming box and didn’t care how much cash they had to throw around to get it.

      Halo was THE coming thing; then Bungee was consumed by Microsoft; then Halo sat in dev limbo for at least a year beyond its original release date, having most of the concept shaved off to squeeze it into the Xbox. Halo has since loomed over the last fifteen years of gaming like some leering spectre, spewing cash in sequels from every orifice, becoming one of the foremost symbols of ‘console gaming’.

      I may be drowning reason and memory in ancient bile here, but for me Halo has always been the poster child for the worst excesses of console exclusivity.

      • Geebs says:

        Bungie have always been pretty clear that they’d have gone broke if it hadn’t been for Microsoft buying them. The Halo tech demo that gave us all of those incredibly exciting screenshots ran at an abysmal frame rate and they weren’t able to fix it.

        It was terribly disappointing, but at the end of the day the originally planned version of Halo would have run terribly on the Mac, and what we actually got was still a very good game.

  21. melnificent says:

    I’m actually rather sad that Xcom 2 is PC exclusive. A friend and I played EU and EW at least once a week into the small hours of the morning on the PS3. It was the one game we loved no matter what.

    We both have PS4s, but he doesn’t have a PC. This means that there will be no late night Xcom 2. How am I supposed to wipe out his squad with a plasma sniper now?

  22. thekeats1999 says:

    I have always disliked the idea of exclusives. This idea of narrowing down your market to potentially 1/3rd of the game playing population (over simplification of the split, I know).

    There are a couple of exceptions to this. Why would Naughty Dog make an Xbox or PC game when Sony pay their wages. Any first party title is exempt from this discussion. The second exception are the Bayonetta’s of the world. Where no one else was willing to fund a third party title until Nintendo comes along (this is also where Sunset Overdrive and Bloodbourne fit in as well, the former couldn’t find a backer and the latter falls under work for hire).

    BUT I do have one major issue with exclusives. Especially digital ones. Archival. With the world going more and more digital we are starting to lose games. For example Tokyo Jungle, a quirky open world game on PS3 only received a physical release in Japan. As we get further and further away from the life cycle of that console it will disappear, which is a shame.

    Another good example is even more recent. The Silent Hills demo P.T., this game now goes for a small fortune as it can only be purchased on PS4’s that have it still installed.

    Even though some of these things can happen on the PC, the open nature of the system allows us to find ways and means to keep these games alive.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I used to dislike exclusives, but nowadays I don’t really care anymore. There are so, so many great games to play on my PC that these other great games that I can’t play on my PC don’t really register anymore.

  24. OmNomNom says:

    The devil

  25. epeternally says:

    I certainly think that exclusives are necessarily wrong bar none (especially not giving exception to Nintendo), and that in a better world gamers would band together and simply band together and not buy exclusive games even if they’re exclusive to their platform of choice (as I’m intending to do with X-Com 2), but the status quo that exists is unlikely to change at this point. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is that emulation provides a vital counter balance to console exclusivity, and how barren gaming would be without console emulators (even if you’re using them on a different console). Emulator developers are some of the greatest public servants in the gaming community and I feel like they don’t get enough credit for just how vital they are to our flourishing scene.

    • epeternally says:

      Would band together and not buy. Darn lack of edit button.

  26. InfamousPotato says:

    I wouldn’t say exclusives are the devil himself… more like a low level demon.

    I can understand timed exclusives, and situations where an indie developer just doesn’t have the resources to port their game, but then there are games like Red Dead Redemption, which occasionally cause me to google its name with “PC Port” tagged onto the end in hopes that they’ve changed their minds on such a ludicrous decision. Inevitably, I will find that they have not, then look up at the sky and scream “DAMN YOU ROCKSTAR, DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!”, before continuing with my day.

    Actually, I think RDR might be the only game that causes that strong of a reaction… I’m able to shrug off the rest, as unfortunate as they are.

    • JFS says:

      Let me tell you, RDR has a great atmosphere and it was fun while I played, but I remember only very little of it. Didn’t quite make a lasting impression on me.

      The real problem with exclusivity: it makes people want stuff they wouldn’t need or want otherwise.

      • Arthur ASCII says:

        It’s the exact polar opposite for me (I suspect I’m not alone?) RDR was (and still is) one the best games ever. Further, it was the sole reason I even bought a console (PS3), which has since proved to be a very useful multimedia tool that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered buying. Nowadays I mainly use the PS3 as a handy video/music/audiobook player, to read pdf documents and books, as well as play an occasional PS2 classics game. Saying that, I would hate it if the next RDR (RDR 2?) was yet another console exclusive as I really *don’t want* a PS4 or Xbone, or at least not anytime soon. I want to skip the current console gen since the gaming PC I built is far more capable. If anything, I *might* consider getting a “PS5” for another console exclusive buy in future, but no way for PS4/Xbone!

  27. malkav11 says:

    I don’t care about timed exclusivity for the most part. I have an enormous backlog of games to play and more coming out all the time. A game that doesn’t come to PC until six months or a year later is a game that isn’t piled onto my backlog. I might occasionally get irritated if I really want to be able to join in on discussion of it or have to skip past spoiler sections on gaming podcasts because I care about the story but don’t have to ability to play it. But for the most part, meh. It needs to be made clear that it -is- timed, though, and that there will be a PC version eventually. Playing coy like Rockstar does and pretending it’s not going to happen is pretty bloody scummy. And those delays shouldn’t apply to any DLC that comes out after the port happens. (Any DLC that comes out -before- the port happens should be bundled as an apology for making us wait.)

    I definitely don’t hold with permanent exclusives, though. I’m not going to get up in arms about them because I just have too many games to play to worry about the occasional exclusive, and if I really care I can always find a Let’s Play and experience them vicariously. But games should be available to as many people as possible, and every game ever made should be playable on PC. That’s just sense.

    I will say it’s my experience that a game being PC exclusive is generally because either the dev doesn’t have a reasonable path to putting it out on console (whether because they don’t know how to do the port, don’t have the connections, don’t have the platform holder’s interest, whatever) or the game experience doesn’t make sense in the console context (like RTSes and MMOs). Whereas a game being console exclusive is usually because the platform holder owns the studio or they laid out big stacks of cash to deny the game to the rest of the market. So I’m way more okay with PC exclusivity.

  28. ThomasHL says:

    ” Deals like these are removing independence from independents, and seeing them hand over a great deal more of their profits (and rights) than they would were they simultaneously selling the game via their own Humble widget, and even on a Steam page. Sure, it’s in return for a wodge of development cash, but that’s some heftily short-sighted thinking.”

    I find that sort of comment not very useful, unless you’ve actually got the cold hard numbers to back it up. Otherwise it’s basically just an emotive argument, where you’ve tried to put a rational skin over it. I mean if you think about it, it’s basically saying there’s _no_ price Sony could have paid that would have made up for Steam sales and a humble widget.

    Considering that well respected games can make barely anything, it’s very much possible that The Chinese Room made a good profit on this deal – never mind the extra press from exclusivity.

    Of course they could have made a loss on the deal too – but that’s why these statements are so useless in the first place. It doesn’t mean anything more than your opinion rephrased with different words.

  29. SaintAn says:

    Console exclusives are terrible. They’re bad for gaming, gamers, and the people that make the games. We’ve lost excellent games to exclusivity. Saints Row 1 and its really really fun multiplayer. Unreal Championship 2 which is the best Unreal game ever made. On PC these games would still be alive. And we miss out on classic games like Bloodborne and Fable 2 which are really great and should be available to everyone. Then there’s the horrible timed exclusive crap like Fallout and TES gets where we have to wait a month or longer after the Xbox peasants get it because Microsoft moneybags decided to fuck us gamers.

    I don’t mind if Microsoft or Sony developed the game with their own studios for their own consoles, but buying up exclusivity from other companies is just disgusting.

  30. Deviija says:

    Console exclusives are the devil. Definitely the devil.

  31. alms says:

    Bah, I don’t think timed exclusives and exclusive exclusives should be lumped into one thing. Timed exclusives are only a problem if you MUST play games on day 1, while years have passed and no Quantic Dream game after Fahrenheit has been playable on PC. That sucks.

    I’ve owned a Mac and some devs don’t’ bother with Mac versions of things. Same with Linux. What I’m getting at is that there are still gardens, it just depends on your perspective.

    Well if gardens are not walled they’re just called platforms, y’know? Playing the ‘perspectives’ card at this stage is a sophism at best.

    As for Linux, SteamOS has done a lot to increase the availability of games, still a long way to go yeah, but I appreciate the choice, and exclusives (of the non-timed variety) are all about restricting choice.

    Mac? the platform is awful both in terms of quality of drivers and their performance (and has been for a looong time) and the way it is run by that company which shan’t be named.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    “Sure, Microsoft and Sony are locked in a childish war, but when you cut off PC, you’re cutting your nose off too.”

    This strikes me as a weird argument for two reasons:

    1. For Rapture, the only way they were getting funding for it was from Sony; and the only way Sony was funding it was timed exclusivity (as well as an agreement to not talk about it for non-Playstation-platforms for some set amount of time). We may not like it, but if the choice is “making the game under these conditions” and “not making the game,” it’s hard to argue that it’s simply spiting oneself.

    B. Exactly how many sales are lost by timed (as opposed to full) exclusivity?

    • Baines says:

      John made that statement.

      Reading through the article, John’s POV appears to very strongly be that exclusives are bad when it means PC doesn’t get the game that he wants, and that nothing else really matters. He doesn’t seem to care about console vs console exclusives, and is not against console losing games to PC. When talking about indie devs moving to console, he uses the word “betrayal”. His further explanation could be read as something said from a general anti-console POV, when treating the “open” nature of PC as something inherently better than being owned by a corporation. Even by the end, when he’s acknowledging that reasons exists, he sticks with the belief that exclusives are still “dickish”.

      It’s similar to the Bayonetta 2 situation. People (including those who never played Bayonetta and likely never would have played Bayonetta 2 regardless) went rabidly against the idea that Bayonetta 2 would be Nintendo-exclusive. This maintained even after Platinum said that they had failed to find other publishers *before* Nintendo stepped in with an offer. You still had people upset at the exclusive. You even had people openly admitting that they’d rather the game remain unmade that to see it be a Nintendo exclusive. These people were arguing from the emotional point that a game that they wanted on an “acceptable” system was only going to see release on an “unacceptable” system. It had nothing to do with them believing exclusives in general were bad, or that platform switching was bad, so any arguments for or against either of those subjects didn’t really matter because they weren’t really arguing those subjects in the first place.

  33. lemartes says:

    i see no point to play a game at consoles if there is a pc one avaliable. actually ı was planning to buy a ps4 to play FF10 and bloodborne, but seems like there isnt any upcoming exclusive game which i am interested in.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    While I generally don’t like exclusivity, there are definitely some perks to first/second party devs working their magic with strictly defined hardware, although this becomes more vague the closer that consoles start to resemble PCs. What really irks me — and others have mentioned this above — is when a direct sequel to a previously third party, multi-plat game suddenly becomes exclusive to a single platform without good technical or design reasons, or if the game would not exist otherwise (e.g. Bayonetta 2 on Wii U). I’m not one for promoting (the already rampant) entitlement in games, but it is pretty crappy to lock a whole user base out of the continuation of a story in which they’ve already invested time, emotion, and potentially a not insignificant amount of their entertainment budget.

    Timed exclusives are annoying but easier to shrug off.

    • Pink Gregory says:

      So…are you saying that it *does* irk you when the game wouldn’t otherwise exist?

      Because I’d say that Bayonetta 2’s situation was a rare case.

      • Pink Gregory says:

        edit to add additional things –

        Literally no one else was going to fund it; Platinum hardly had a choice if they wanted to fund the game, and in additional to that they made the brilliant Wonderful 101 and a port of Bayonetta 1 for the WiiU.

        Want to be annoyed at anyone for that, be annoyed with Sega; who as far as I’m aware agreed to fund it, and then dropped out fairly early on.

        • Premium User Badge

          Thulsa Hex says:

          Nooooo, I meant to say that it’s an exception. I realise the grim folly of that sentence structure, now. Definitely a bummer for those who don’t/didn’t own a Wii U, but definitely better that it exists to be played. It’s sitting on the shelf across from me, btw. (It was actually quite a surprise to get a non-first party exclusive like this on a Nintendo console for a change.)

          • Pink Gregory says:

            And sadly there are some who would rather it not exist…a surprising amount also who misunderstand the nature of the deal.

            I ‘unno, I like Platinum’s approach to development; they’ve done both multiplats and exclusives, seemingly based on who paid for what, and I feel like that’s the way it should be for a third party.

  35. SuicideKing says:

    PC exclusives are usually exclusive to the PC because consoles don’t have enough horsepower to run them or can’t support enough controls, or both.

    I’m okay with that.

    Console exclusives are exclusive for monetary reasons. Most of the time PC players are pleading to have the game released to PC, but are branded too insignificant a market or branded pirates. Or, in the case of MS and Halo, to protect the sale of the console.

    I mean, [i]how much money[/i] could Nintendo, MS and Sony make, for relatively little effort, if they put out good PC ports of all their games? Or just the old ones? Or just put out free official emulators?

    Hackers/Crackers/Modders have done this in the past, I don’t see why the companies can’t.

    I mean, if Nintendo put out a Pokemon game that looked like The Witcher 3 on the PC, I’d play that at the age of 22. Instead they put out some weird 3D remake of 2002’s Pokemon Sapphire that looks like it belongs to 2005 on the DS, with so much aliasing that it hurts.

    Same for MS and Halo. Just release the damn games for PC! They’ve already ported it to the Xbone. They (apparently) almost released it for the PC! But no.

    That’s why I dislike console exclusives.

  36. tonicer says:

    Every game should be PC exclusive. The time of consoles is over.

    All they do nowadays is keep developers back so they can’t do what they imagined their game would be like.

    Every game that is released for console AND PC is suffering from it.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, and sell the majority of the copies of any given multiplatform game. I agree that PC is the platform to be on and that console limitations can drag down game designs to some degree, but let’s not pretend there aren’t business reasons for console primary releases.

  37. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Generally, exclusives are part of a whole class of anti-competitive practices I call bundling, capitalism is at it’s best (its sole virtue, in fact) when similar products compete with each other for market dominance, bundling is a way for large entities to remove this virtue by bundling something they make, but that people don’t want with something people do want – meaning to have the latter they must buy the former.
    So when say Microsoft tell people (or try and fail horribly) that in order to have Tomb Raider, you must buy a crossbone, they’re trying to lock people who like Tomb Raider into the crossbone product and services rather than let it compete freely and lose out to a superior set of products and services from Sony (& vice versa).

    When exclusives aren’t used as a market manipulation like this, I’m generally in favour of them.

  38. rmsgrey says:

    For the most part, I’m indifferent to platform exclusives – sure, game X may be great, but game Y is about as good and I don’t need to buy new hardware to run it.

    Where they start to bite is with cross-platform, narrative-heavy series like Kingdom Hearts, where, until the HD remakes on PS3, if you wanted to follow the plot of the series, you needed to have a PS2 (KH, KH2), a GBA or early DS (CoM), a PSP (BBS), and a 3DS (358/2, Re:Coded and 3D) – with the HD remakes, you can play 4 of the games and watch the cutscenes from 2 more with just a PS3, and only be missing out on 3D – and Unchained Key when that gets released, and KH3 which will need a current-gen console…

  39. biggergun says:

    It’s not like Sony held them at gunpoint or implanted them with mind control chips or something. If The Chinese Room took their offer, it means that they saw some kind of profit in it. Humble widget or not, videogame developers are grown people capable of doing math. I dislike walled gardens as much as anyone, but when good developers profit, the industry profits.

    • Baines says:

      It costs time and money to develop a PC game, and it costs more time and money to bug-fix and maintain a PC game. That’s something a lot of “but why not PC as well” arguments tend to gloss over. You don’t just throw up a Humble widget and make free money.

      If you look at the forum for pretty much any PC game, you will see complaints from people who are experiencing crashing or other issues on their machine. At least console has only a few variations in hardware set-up.

      And even if you do a decent “console-quality” port on PC, you’ll still draw fire from PC users because it is “console-quality”. It will take even more time, money, and testing to make a separate “better-than-console” experience for PC users, which will draw decreasing increased revenue (as such extra work will only add buyers who wouldn’t have settled for less).

      The Chinese Room, or really any developer, could easily see a bit more money and help from a console manufacturer in exchange for an “exclusive” as more than worth the hassles of PC.

  40. Arthur ASCII says:

    Alec: “Console is a quiet space to retreat to, and the ritual of it all, the right seat, the big telly, feels like doing something profoundly different to PC.” Well, I like gaming on both console and PC and I would have to disagree with what you said there completely. Like others have already eloquently put it, if the advantage of consoles is “to lay back on the couch playing a videogame on the big telly” then today that old cliché is incredibly outdated, only being carried-on today by console manufacturer propaganda and brainwashing. What sort of gamer nowadays doesn’t simply hook up their gaming PC to the big screen and surround system via hdmi cable (with maybe a powered USB extension hub for the mouse, gamepad and keyboard)? I believe there are also companies who sell wi-fi hubs for those who don’t want the hassle of the cables. This “ritual” you mention is just you under the spell of marketing and illusion. You have fallen for the sales-pitch PR lies and marketing scams the likes of Edward Bernays himself would’ve been proud of. Let’s not forget those console-only exclusives you’re experiencing in your “game-cave-personal-lounge-space” were originally coded and developed by software engineers using PC dev tools. We should all remember that all “console-only” games have an original PC version. Yes, admittedly, you would need to be one of the developers to have the closed PC dev version not available to the public outside the studio. But it exists. Long before you were able to buy (or be given?) the end console version for “public consumption”!

  41. piercehead says:

    I’m finding myself, more and more, voting with my feet/wallet and not buying exclusives that eventually end up on PC. If Destiny/Red Dead Redemption etc. do end up on PC I won’t be getting them. I may be shooting myself in the foot but…it’s the principle.

  42. bill says:

    I’m not fundamentally opposed to exclusives with any great passion, but I find it sad years later when classic games aren’t widely accessible.

    I guess when I had enough free time to play games on all platforms, I also had enough disposable income to have all platforms. Now I don’t have enough time or disposable income for even one platform.

    But there is this whole batch of apparently all time classic games that I have no experience of. Castlevania, Metal Gear, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, etc..
    (I did play goldeneye and zelda etc because I had that kind of console back then)

    It’s like if classic movies like The Godfather or Citizen Kane were only available on one brand of dvd player… and 20 years later that brand of dvd player was mostly out of production.

    It just makes me a little :-(

  43. Tuco says:

    The gaming industry is arguably the only one in the entertainment business that attempts to justify this sort of exclusivity as some sort of necessary or even virtuous idea.

    I lost count of how many time I had to read abysmal bullshit like “Well, exclusives give me a reason to buy all platforms” as if it was a good thing.
    Wait a minute, why should I be happy to buy four different hardware devices, based on the same technology, that do essentially the very same thing, just to adhere at some stupid corporate-friendly restriction?

    You don’t have movies that ask you to buy a very specific brand of TV or an unique model of disc reader.
    At most you have different services with their own content (i.e. Sky, Netflix), but those are more akin to the role of publishers selling their unique lineup of titles on their own distribution channel.

    So yeah, exclusivity just for the sake of contractual restrictions is mostly unlikable bullshit and nothing will ever convince me “it’s for the better”.