PC master race, represent.
All memes aside, exclusivity deals harm gamers because they limit players on all platforms from accessing some of the industry’s best games. In short, consoles suck because of exclusivity deals.
Before you get triggered and type an angry comment about why consoles are still great for allowing local multiplayer, allowing developers to achieve tighter optimization, creating physical copies of game discs for second-hand markets, allowing for greater portability (in the case of handhelds), and are great for kids who can’t be trusted on the internet or people who have difficulty using a mouse and keyboard, I’ll concede that these points are valid.
Consoles still have a place in the gaming market, and I don’t see them going away in the future. Their greatest assets – simplicity and lower prices – ensure that they’ll be around in some form for a long time. That said, in a perfect world, consoles wouldn’t exist because they wouldn’t need to exist.
Image courtesy of Newegg.
Exclusivity deals only exist because… money. When a publisher like Microsoft sees a strong title on the horizon, they’ll bid against other companies like Sony or Valve for exclusivity rights. Essentially, they’re bribing the game’s developers to restrict their new title from other platforms. However, money isn’t the only reason why developers decide not to bring their games to other platforms.
When making a new game, developers have to spend hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars to ensure that their game works properly on as many platforms as possible. If they estimate that it will take too much time and effort to port their game to a specific system, they’ll simply give up and sell it on the remaining ones. When deadlines and player demographics enter the picture, some developers choose not to bother with certain consoles whatsoever.
Depending on the amount of money offered to a developer, the amount of time and effort required to port their game to other systems, and the prospective sales that they may or may not see on those other platforms, developers will probably earn a bit more money from exclusivity deals than they would if they’d just ported and sold their game as usual.
It’s a calculated risk taken by both sides, but it usually benefits the publishers far more than it does the developers. Publishers continue to sell consoles for three main reasons: simplicity, low prices, and exclusives. Consumers love how consoles are easy to use, tend to last for a long time, are generally cheaper than PCs (though this is debatable if you build your own), and remain the only avenues to play the next title in their favorite franchises.
If exclusivity deals disappeared overnight, everyone would be able to enjoy the greatest new games on the platform of their choosing. While this may drive exclusive-reliant companies like Nintendo out of business, it would benefit both PC players and console players in the long run. For console users, hardware and system prices would improve as companies would need to compete directly without the artificial handicap of exclusives. For PC users, all kinds of excellent games would now become available on the world’s superior system (no bias here, kappa).
P.S. I may or may not have written this article because I’m really salty that I won’t be able to play Red Dead Redemption 2 as soon as it comes out on those filthy consoles.