For as few exclusives as there are these days, the word still gets a lot of mileage on message boards. Lists have become a profound form of ammunition among system soldiers, with elite titles compared and contrasted in increasingly heated wars of attrition. But how important is exclusivity to you? And does the aging concept have an impact on the experiences that you’re looking forward to?
In many ways, first-party or exclusive titles are still used to define the ethos of the console that they belong to. WipEout, for example, may find itself facing an uncertain future following the closure of Studio Liverpool, but it’s a franchise that’s exuded PlayStation ever since its inception in 1995. The futuristic action, electronic soundtrack, and Designers Republic aesthetic played a pivotal role in bringing gaming out of the bedroom and into night clubs, and its impact is still felt across Sony’s gaming brand today.
The same can be said for PlayStation’s biggest competitors. Nintendo’s output is defined by its enormous roster of recognisable characters, from Super Mario and Link, right through to Luigi, who’s taking centre stage at the moment. Even Microsoft – a company that doesn’t quite have the same exhaustive back catalogue as its Japanese counterparts – can be identified by the reflective helmet of Master Chief or the burly posture of Marcus Fenix.
So, exclusives still help to reinforce the identity of a particular brand or system – but does that lead to unwarranted anticipation in the case of some games? Take the Resistance series, a perfectly reputable collection of sci-fi shooters that have arguably always been punching above their weight. While the franchise certainly benefited from starting life alongside the PlayStation 3, it’s never quite attained the quality level that the sheer amount of conversation surrounding it would lead you to believe. But why is that?
Well, if you look at the manner in which Fuse – the first ever multiplatform project from former Sony second-party Insomniac Games – is soaring under the radar, the answer should be obvious. While the studio’s upcoming third-person shooter has a distinctly different flavour to its foray into the crowded first-person market, it doesn’t have the hook of exclusivity to its name, and, as such, it seems destined to fall flat when it launches in late May as a result.
The example isn’t just limited to Insomniac Games, though. Take a title such as de Blob, which was a hot topic of conversation when it originally debuted on the Wii back in 2008. Nintendo fans treated the game as one of their own, and its importance was inflated as a result. But by the time that the puzzler’s successor was preparing to paint the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well, all hype had been abandoned, and developer Blue Tongue Games was shut down after the sequel was a commercial flop.
Fascinatingly, de Blob 2 attracted reviews almost on par with its predecessor, suggesting that it didn’t suffer from a decline in quality during the transition to multiple systems. However, it certainly lost some of its appeal along the way, and that can be attributed to its loss of exclusivity. A more recent example includes Rayman Legends, which was originally heralded as a must-own title for the Wii U. Incredibly, though, a poll conducted by our friends over at Nintendo Life showed that interest in the release had plummeted following its announcement for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Even games that genuinely don’t look very good profit from the added enthusiasm that exclusivity offers. Back when Tecmo Koei revealed Quantum Theory for the PS3 back in 2008, it was treated as Sony’s response to Gears of War. After plenty of early press, it eventually lost its exclusivity status and deployed to very little fanfare in 2010. Such was the ambivalence surrounding the release when it finally arrived, that no one even cared that it was a complete critical disaster.
Of course, there are a number of advantages to exclusivity that may explain why it increases expectations. Franchises such as Uncharted and God of War have thrived on their ability to push a specific piece of hardware, prompting visual fidelity beyond that of most multiplatform games. Furthermore, exclusive titles tend to take advantage of the unique capabilities of their parent hardware. For example, ZombiU wouldn’t quite be the same game if it released on the PS3, unless it took advantage of expensive Vita cross-controller compatibility.
But that still doesn’t change the fact that in most cases exclusivity has an almost profound impact on anticipation – sometimes to an unreasonable degree. There’s nothing to suggest that the Resistance games couldn’t have launched on the Xbox 360 under a different publisher, but would they have garnered such a huge amount of attention if they did? Exclusive titles may be declining in numbers these days, but that only seems to be raising the profile of the few that still exist.
How does exclusivity affect you? Do your ears prick up when you learn that a new title is going to be developed specifically for your platform of choice, and, if so, why is that? Are there any particular titles or franchises that you’ve lost interest in since going multiplatform? Let us know in the comments section below.
Do you get more excited for exclusive games? (42 votes)
Yes, I love titles that are tailored to a specific piece of hardware
Sometimes, but it depends on the game
No, I don’t care whether a release is exclusive or not
Please login to vote in this poll.