The One-Man Console War
Exclusivity is a business practice left over from an age when corporate rivalry and competition were top priorities. Platform exclusives have managed to carve out a space for themselves in a gaming landscape that otherwise has made a full pivot towards player choice and freedom. PlayStation titles like God of War, and The Last of Us, prove that strong platform exclusives sell hardware, but big business just doesn’t know when to stop.
The PlayStation twitter account announced that Spider-Man is coming to Marvel’s Avengers, as a PlayStation exclusive. PC and Xbox players of the upcoming Crystal Dynamics joint won’t be able to experience playing as one of Marvel’s most popular characters of all time. Crystal Dynamics Head of Studio, Scot Amos, explained a bit of the decision to IGN Japan:
“Spider-Man is a unique opportunity for us because of the relationship that PlayStation and Marvel have…That is the only character that we are doing that way”.
This move sparked immediate debate throughout the gaming space, and has left people on one of two sides: those who oppose the unprompted corporate cash grab, and PlayStation players. Those with access to either a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 seem to have a general disapproving complacency, disappointed with such a predatory move but ultimately fine with feeding Sony their money. This new Avengers game is built around its characters, providing unique emotes, some very dope costumes, in-depth ability trees, and gear builds for us to tinker with. Player choice is important in the video game experience, and exclusivity chips away at that choice — especially in a game like this. As it stands, this would be like Destiny 2 dropping a new subclass exclusively to a specific platform. It locks an entire aspect of game play (both in a solo and team environment) from 2/3 of the player base, and the only way to get the key to that lock is by declaring your unyielding loyalty (wallet) to the PlayStation banner for years to come.
The PlayStation 4 completely took over this past generation with incredible lineup of exclusives, and their hardware sales reflect that success (don’t bring up Horizon on PC, some PlayStation stans get aggressive). We can all agree that buying a console to experience these titles is an acceptable business move. Sony sells consoles; we get good games; everyone wins. But that’s where a lot of players are drawing the line, refusing to accept further-reaching content exclusivity. Hardware will sell just fine with the insanely successful platform exclusives available, you don’t have a competitor nipping at your heels and pressuring you to make even more exclusivity deals. Xbox effectively bowed out of the console wars altogether with Game Pass and Phil Spencer’s open disapproval of exclusives in the industry moving forward:
"I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games. Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about”.
Even the Beta launching early for PlayStation 4 is fine, eyebrow-raising for sure, but fine. It comes off like a respectable nudge to go and play on their console, a business move players can accept or decline as they wish. Oh, what’s that, PlayStation players will get exclusive monthly community challenges for a year (until 9/4/21)? Okay. Oh, PlayStation players can also purchase legendary outfits from the in-game store 30 days before other platforms? Weird flex, but alright.
I understand exclusivity is not the end of the world — you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find something in the world to actually be angry about — but none of this was necessary. The outfits, community challenges, and early beta are ultimately fine, they don’t block off meaningful content for long and don’t matter much in the long run. The Spider-Man move, on the other hand, just seems unnecessarily restricting to Xbox and PC users.
- a mcflyy joint