Has The Quality Of Multiplatform Games Reduced The Importance Of Exclusive Games?

Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of GamerXChange]

Everyone likes a good exclusive game right? They seem to give people the will to live, one faction or the other can proudly beat their chest and exclaim that the console they prefer, has more exclusives than your preferred console. It’s a time-honored tradition, only its never been as rampant as this current console generation. Early on it was the Xbox 360 fans that went on and on about how the PlayStation 3 lacked exclusives, now the roles are reversed and it seems to be a never-ending battle. The thing is though, exclusives playing the role they played in console generations past, just might be a thing of the past altogether.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe exclusives are needed and aren’t in danger of going away, though third-party exclusives are an exception, because lets face it, companies like money and there is simply more money to be made from selling a game on more platforms. I happen to think exclusives are what sell a console out of the gate. Most people don’t have the money to buy more than one launch console at a time, so it’s usually the games that are going to make all the difference. When I knew I had to have an Xbox 360 was when I first saw Gears Of War on it before the console even launched, and I knew I had to have a PS3 when I saw Metal Gear Solid 4 on it before that even launched. I was in a good enough spot to buy both, and having them launch somewhat apart meant it was easy enough to purchase both. I don’t expect any of the consoles to get that big of a head start this time around, so exclusives will probably play a big roll yet again at the start of the next console cycle.

The problem is that once you get this deep into the console generation, the third party developers start to really get a handle on the hardware and we start seeing some really amazing games come out that are multiplatorm titles. If 2011 taught me anything it’s that there is a definite change in the quality of third party games, they are on par and 90% of the time end up being better than most of the exclusives being released on any one console. I still think we’ll see big numbers for your Halo, Uncharted, Gears and Gran Turismo games, but you wont see a ton of sales going to the in between exclusives. We live in an age where one or two million in sales for an exclusive just isn’t going to be profitable enough to ensure a sequel, it seems like the people beating their chests about exclusive games, aren’t actually going out and buying these exclusives.

It was a bit head scratching at first when I was noticing this trend, I mean 2011 saw the fewest exclusives ever for the Xbox 360, yet it was the consoles biggest year ever in terms of sales and led the world wide market. So I started to do a little research and found that there are exclusive blockbusters, mid level exclusives and low level exclusives for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Both consoles have a hand full of blockbuster hits, and both have a decent amount of mid level exclusives, oddly enough Microsoft seems to have abandoned the low level exclusive altogether and instead seem to focus on luring people to buy multiplatform games on the Xbox 360 with timed DLC and now Kinect functionality. It’s hard to say if this approach has led to increased sales, but I have heard that some people will buy Call Of Duty on the Xbox 360 because it gets the maps first.

Sony on the other hand continues to crank out a lot of low level exclusives that go largely unnoticed, this is good for the people who actually buy those games, but I don’t think enough people are supporting them in the way they probably should, but with so many quality third party titles, these types of games don’t really stand much of a chance. Call Of Duty, Skyrim, Batman, Portal 2 and Mass Effect 3 are all superior quality games and Call Of Duty is a game that offers an extremely competitive online community that lasts for years, which is something not even Halo games can claim anymore. I also don’t think this trend is necessarily a good thing for the industry or for gamer’s in general. We are seeing companies take less risks on new IP’s and instead opt for safer sequels because of this new trend. We are also seeing some quality exclusives try to copy games like Call Of Duty in an attempt to draw more people to their games. This is a mistake, because games tend to lose their identity when that happens and fans are fickle with where their loyalties lay. Sometimes when a developer goes for a wider audience, the original audience abandons the franchise altogether. We saw a bit of this with Resistance 2, which tried to go in a more Call Of Duty style, and was poorly received by fans, by the time they found their own footing in Resistance 3, the fans had all but abandoned the franchise.

We all have limits on how much money we can spend on gaming, 2011 was an expensive year for me personally. Even with Sony cranking out a ton of exclusives, by the end of the year I bought just as many of those as I did for the Xbox 360. I ended up with 3 Xbox 360 exclusives and 3 PS3 exclusives and the Wii was last with only 2 exclusives that I purchased. It wasn’t for lack of wanting more exclusives, it was simply because I bought more multiplatform titles than at any other time in my life, the quality multiplatform titles were steady throughout the year and I choose to buy these stellar games instead. I truly believe we’ve turned a corner and that corner is one where exclusives draw in gamer’s at the start of a console generation, but as that generation wears on, it becomes more about online functionality, extra content and the possibilities of playing something trouble free, more than the sheer amount of exclusive games. I’m sure people will continue to beat their chests about exclusives, even as another console generation looms large, but I think the days where exclusives rule the gaming world, is coming to a close.

Let us know what you think on the subject in the comment section below, or check out our community forums and voice your opinion there.

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