Thanks to an evolving market and financial pressure, console exclusive titles may be a thing of the past.
Once upon a time gamers would pick their console based on the number of exclusive titles available while the technical hardware was only an after thought. Having clear visuals is nice but that hardware is useless when all the console has is shovelware while everyone else is enjoying 007 Goldeneye or Metal Gear Solid.
Looking back, one could say the Fifth Generation era was the Golden Age of console exclusive. Gamers who owned a Nintendo 64 had an impressive collection that consisted of classics like 007 GoldenEye, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros. and Star Fox 64. PlayStation gamer also had an impressive console exclusive collection that included Metal Gear Solid, the Syphon Filter trilogy, Crash Bandicoot, Driver 2, and Tekken 2.
When gaming transitioned into the Sixth Generation, it was an era defined by the rivalry between the Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation 2. Console exclusive titles were just as important with titles like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Grand Theft Auto III tipping the odds in Sony’s favor. Microsoft was able to build its fan base starting with the Halo series. While Nintendo did lag during this era, it had many unforgettable classics that are now sought after by collectors.
The Tipping Point
During the Sixth Generation, Xbox gamers got bragging rights thanks to Halo but titles like Steel Battalion and Dead or Alive 3 were also memorable. PlayStation 2 gamers were the real winners with titles like Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts, Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Meanwhile, PlayStation gamers got first dibs on titles like Medal of Honor: Frontline, Metal Gear Solid 2, Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. Nintendo gamers got the Resident Evil remake along with Super Smash Bros. Melee, Luigi’s Mansion, and Rouge Squadron II.
By the time gaming entered the Seventh Generation era, it was more the same in terms of console exclusive titles during the early years. Everything changed when the world was hit with by the 2008 Financial Crash, which forced publishers to make cuts while trying to generate as much revenue as possible. At the same time, the gaming market has grown and publishers needed to tap into this new market. That means having to make their games available for all major consoles.
Those days of console exclusive titles are now coming to an end as less publishers are whiling to make their titles available on one console. The Eight Generation era may very well be the last era of console exclusive titles. More games are now being released on multiple consoles and the PC while the majority of exclusive titles are being developed by either Sony, Nintendo’s Microsoft’s own in-house studios.
The New Gaming Market
Capcom has almost abandoned releasing console exclusive titles while Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain saw a massive release on major consoles and the PC. Very few developers and publishers are whiling to release a title that is exclusive to one console. No Man’s Sky and BroForce were both released for the PS4 while Xbox gamers are awaiting the release of We Happy Few.
From a financial standpoint, releasing a console exclusive title makes no sense in today’s market. With AAA titles requiring a massive budget, publishers need to make their money back. To make their title exclusive for one console would cut any profit they could have made. Hence, releasing a game on one console is the economical equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.
The best Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft can now do is offer their audience first dibs on a highly anticipated title. This gives them an advantage over the competition while studios are not forced to limit there target audience to one console. Xbox gamers got first dibs on Rise of the Tomb Raiders before it was released on PlayStation 4 and PC. Meanwhile PlayStation gamers are going to experience the nightmare of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in VR before Oculus.
It makes sense for Sony and Microsoft’s own studios to keep the games exclusive because it makes the console more appealing while developers have the support of the parent company. Yet that too may also change for the obvious financial reasons but it might be limited to mobile devices and the PC. This was best demonstrated with Nintendo and the success of Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run for the mobile device.
When gaming has entered the Ninth Generation, console exclusive titles will be replaced by offering gamers first dibs on a title. Meanwhile a consoles hardware, special features and the quality service offered will play a much greater role in influencing a consumers decision.
What are your thoughts on console exclusive titles and do you think they’re going to disappear? Share your opinion in the comment section below.