Once upon a time, exclusives were a big part of the video game industry. An exclusive like GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 meant a huge amount of console sales. One game title can, in theory, get a company more console sales. That was then, this is now. If you look at Halo, it’s not up to the same popularity as it once was. Even given that fact, there are grand plans by Microsoft regarding the Halo franchise.
One thing is clear, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are amazing with all their capabilities. If you’ve noticed, video games aren’t priced like they once were. With all the power that comes with the next generation consoles, also comes the need for the humans to program and unlock that potential. Games these days take a vast amount of resources. It will get more, not less.
So let’s look at the state of the Xbox One and PS4 sales. It seems quite clear at this point that the PS4 is winning the console war. In fact it may be by a 2-to-1 margin depending on what you care to believe. A difference of this extent is relevant to the exclusive argument. After spending all the money to create a game, let’s say Halo 5, if your user base is modest, the interest in your game will be modest. Want a Halo movie? How does cutting out millions of PS4 owners make sense?
Exclusives make sense when the investment in developing a game isn’t as high. Given that companies need other revenue streams like in-game purchases and merchandise, limited your audience by having your game as an exclusive is a bad idea.
I wonder how long Microsoft will make Halo an exclusive. For gamers, having a cross platform game like Halo will be a massive hit. Can a title like Halo 5 cause the consumers to suddenly change their mind on what console they want to buy? In today’s marketplace, I doubt it. This is ultimately the decision for companies. The larger the gap between sales of the PS4 and Xbox One, the greater failure in the concept of video game exclusives.
Kevin O’Leary from the Shark Tank always likes to point out people who have a niche of a niche market. The piece of the pie becomes so small that it’s hardly a worthy investment. I see this in video games. If you have a smaller user base and you make your product only available on your console, isn’t that a niche of a niche? Not exactly, but certainly when you are limiting your sales right off the bat by excluding the PlayStation 4, I would say you’re putting a ceiling on your success.
I look at Bungie and their next game post Halo. Destiny will not be an exclusive and thus, it’s destined to be a smashing success. The number of gamers who can buy the game and associated products is going to mean a greater return on their investment. Marketing, gamer buzz, it’s all going to be tenfold. Had Destiny been say a Xbox One exclusive, you can chop all that associate buzz in half. To me it’s a no brainer.
Look at Titanfall from EA. It’s a Microsoft exclusive and it’s being bundled with the Xbox One. Could this be the last go at an exclusive? I bet EA might be wondering logically how it makes sense to have an game unavailable to buy for a majority of gamers. Whether you believe it’s a 2-to-1 win for Sony and the PS4 right now, you bet it’s safe to say the majority of console owners have the PS4. So for EA, you make the big investment on the TitanFall brand, only to limit it to a minority. That’s a buzz kill. You will get much less buzz obviously. The fact is the FPS genre isn’t exclusive enough to cause hype that will shift a gamer into buying a console over another. Activision and Rockstar have it right. No limits on consoles. You like GTA 5? Buy it regardless of the console you own. You like COD? Buy it regardless of the console you own. I think TitanFall is THE experiment and potential failure for this “exclusive” model. It’s going to die and I think the model is dying right before our eyes. It’s not a bad thing for gamers is it?
I’m saying it here now. Please Microsoft, make Halo 5 a non exclusive and make it available for PlayStation 4.