Once upon a time, we compared consoles, not based on graphics alone but on the exclusive games each offered as well. This might still be true, but currently, exclusivity is just a minor part of what influences which consoles we should buy in the first place.
With the upcoming new generation of consoles releasing in November later this year, the reasons for buying either console for their exclusive games are getting less and less. Why do big companies such as Square-Enix, Capcom, RockStar, EA, and others opt for multi-platform releases? Why not stick to one particular console like they did in the days of yesteryear?
Developer Bungie, previously funded by Microsoft’s gaming division, announced their future games will be multi-platform releases to assure as much profit as possible. And why not? When the cost of making a game, be it a small indie or a triple A title, is higher than revenue from sales of 100 copies of any particular game?
Take the remake of Tomb Raider, for example.
I kind of understand why Square-Enix said Tomb Raider sales were rather disappointing, despite it being a multi-platform release embraced by both gamers and critics alike and selling nearly 4 million copies. Square-Enix felt it was a loss because of the high cost of promoting the new adventures of Lara Croft, what with the action figures produced, the ads spots created, as well as the cost of hiring actors/actresses for said ads and in-game voice work.
I won’t say SE was 100% wrong as the revenue from sales of Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution, were not enough to prevent several lays-off in their sub-studios, even if a Tomb Raider sequel is in the works.
But the question remains, can exclusivity negatively affect a company?
Maybe not too much, but Nintendo could be affected thanks to lackluster sales figures for the Wii U. Even as companies agree to release their games multi-platform, they seem to overlook releasing their products for the Wii U.
Rayman: Legends, for example, was once a Wii U exclusive, but after seeing the sales figures for Nintendo’s console, publisher Ubisoft decided to delay the game to September and make Rayman: Legend a multi-platform release. So far, only Nintendo-published games, such as New Super Mario Bros U have made it to the Wii U as disc-based exclusives, though there are other digitally released games that remain exclusive like Nano Assault Neo. Bayonetta 2 is a notable exception as a Wii U exclusive, seeing that it was Nintendo who funded the project.
Editorial correction: On the date this article was posted, Nintendo’s Wii U console had the following non-Nintendo developed exclusives:
Wonderful 101 (Platinum Games)
Lego City Undercover (TT Fusion)
Zombi U (Ubisoft)
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Capcom)
Nano Assault Neo (Shin’En)
Tank! Tank! Tank! (NamcoBandai)
Sing! Party (FreeStyleGames)
Mighty Switch Force: Hyperdrive Edition (WayForward Technologies)
Speaking of series, there was no such thing as yearly releases (save for sports-themed games) until Call of Duty hit it big and basically made that call. Don’t know why but Activision sees this more as an opportunity rather than an annoyance.
To me, yearly releases should be reserved, although it’s still ridiculous, to sports games like FIFA. Yearly releases can be addictive, especially to companies seeking to capitalize on a franchise, but it may be best if everyone avoided them.
Just look at Assassin’s Creed. The original was an innovative game but after Assassin’s Creed II saw two additions in Brotherhood and Revelations, the series seemed to go down hill. For many this problem was especially pronounced with AC III, as many gamers found the game to be riddled with bugs.
Yearly releases made me aware of something: the game is still the same – it just comes in a new package with minor tweaks and possibly a new gameplay style. Gamers will buy this stuff just because they want to see the story unfold and yet, the saga never seems to meet an end. Ubisoft should really try stopping releases every year to keep the series fresh, in my opinion. At least Call of Duty releases their games by series (Modern Warfare, World at War, Black Ops) under the overall franchise, varying things a bit, while new Assassin’s Creed titles appear each year, continuing the same tale as before.
It doesn’t matter if the games are multi-platform or being released every year because at the end of the day, it is us, the gamers, who made that happen. As for exclusives, there won’t be such a word in modern gaming vocabulary unless the developer was directly funded by either Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo.
There will be fanboys, who once counted on their favorite franchise to be limited to their console of choice, who won’t believe the news when titles go multi-platform, such as when Mass Effect 2 made the jump from the Xbox 360 to the PS3.
It’s no longer wise to say franchises will never defect, even if meant as a joke.
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