Timed content exclusives payed for by publishers on high budget games seems to be becoming more consistent recently. Not only is this approach bad for us, the consumers, but it’s also killing and dividing the industry. Both Sony and Microsoft are at fault with this growing movement, by paying for platform exclusive DLC, initial access to betas and demos, pre-order bonuses and sometimes even full games being withheld from a specific platform for a certain amount of time, it only proves to aggravate and abandon its fanbase.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was one of the first major games to be hit by a timed exclusive for Xbox and not showing up onto the PlayStation for two years. These publishers generally pay the developers to not even mention a time frame for a release date on the opposing platform, leaving owners of the opposing platform agitated and confused. When Tomb Raider did eventually get released for PlayStation, it conveniently came with a 20th anniversary collector’s edition. Funny, that.This exercise is becoming increasingly popular particularly with the equally obnoxious pre-order bonuses, with a lot of AAA budget games, you’ll get exclusive content such as character skins and maps, and all this does is leave consumers frustrated and annoyed. It’s baffling to understand the business strategy behind it, it’s not a selling point for a console and nobody’s going to jump ship just because Dragon Age got an exclusive DLC without mentioning a release date for the PS4, it just makes PS4 owners despise Microsoft even more and this growing notion creates the feeling that no matter what version you buy, you will never be able to experience the full game.
It’s understandable when publishers pay for full exclusivity, as they provide a reason for consumers to invest in their desired platform, and generally you know what type of games are going to be on the console of your choice, whereas timed exclusives are not predictable. Destiny giving PlayStation two whole strike missions that were never to be released on Xbox was not predicted. Why should you get content slashed from your game just because of the format you chose to invest in? Want extra maps? Sorry, you spent your cash on the wrong console.Full exclusivity benefits mechanically too as exclusives generally run better when dedicated to a platform, as the developer doesn’t have to battle with catering with multiple architectures. Some of the best games to date are exclusive, just looking at the current generation of consoles; we have Zelda: Breath of the wild and Bayonetta 2 for Nintendo, Uncharted and Bloodborne for PlayStation and Forza and Halo for Xbox. These are all arguably the strongest games for the consoles they represent, so exclusivity isn’t necessarily a dreadful thing when it’s not purposely isolating consumers and creates a healthy competition, but by intentionally withholding or failing to provide specific content despite the core game being available on multiple platforms is just wrong.
Sure, there are some minor benefits to receiving content later than the competing platform, as bugs and glitches are more likely to be ironed out and the content may be released at a discounted price, but the principle is timed exclusives are designed to deprive, whereas full exclusives are designed to enhance.