Exclusivity of games on consoles has always been a major make or break feature for consoles. Even more so as video games were just beginning to emerge if you wanted to play a game you had to make sure you had the console it was specific for. With the latest outcry of The Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed console exclusive is it that we take for granted now that most games are multiplatform releases or should we just be expecting it?

Earlier this week at Gamescom 2014 at the Xbox event Phil Spencer announced that The Rise of the Tomb Raider, previously announced as a multiplatform release, would be an Xbox Exclusive. This was then changed the next day as when asked if the exclusivity was timed it came out that it was indeed a timed exclusive but the specific amount of time wasn’t revealed. This has gotten a lot of negative feedback from both the Playstation and PC community as bloggers fly to their webcams to film their latest rant or tweets about what a bad decision it is on Crystal Dynamics and Square Enixs part.

The Rise of the Tombraider

Exclusive to Xbox….kinda

When video games began the concept of a multiplatform release was unheard of. Each game development company was not only making games but was also making the hardware, if you wanted to play an Atari game then you better have the Atari or for Sonic’s latest appearance you needed a Sega machine.

Even at the start of multiplatform releases you had games like Disney’s Aladdin for example where each version of the game had a different producer for a different platform. There were three different versions of Disney’s Aladdin for Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear and the SNES each with their own differences. You can ask people who played the game which version they played and which was the best because while the game was on multiple platforms the experience was different.

Disney's Aladdin

Aladdin on the SNES (Left) and the Genesis (right)

In more recent times as the hardware specification of consoles have come closer and closer to one another and development tools are supported on all platforms it is much easier for a game to be created on all platforms but there are also reasons why a development company might not want to do that.

There are many good points for a game to be released on all platforms at once. The most standout reason for this is that you’re able to advertise your product to as many consumers as possible. We see this a lot at the moment in the first year of a new generation as games are being released on current gen machines as well as last gen machines, games like Assassins Creed 4 achieved this or more impressively Fifa 14 which released last year but is available even on the Playstation 2. Due to such a wide release it meant that the game was developed over multiple engines to suit different platforms adding to the workload of creating the game. This approach also generally appeases all fans so as to not have to deal with upset fans criticizing one console because it will have something that they do not, we can all admit that we’ve all had those moments but it shouldn’t create as much of a problem as we see in comment feeds and forums.

Fifa 14 for Playstation 2

A game of it’s generation(s)

While there are those bonuses for releasing to a wider market there are also things to gain from releasing games exclusively for a single console. There are understandable and common sense reasons such as if the game is being published by a company that owns a console then they will release for that, we see this all the time with AAA franchises like Halo, Uncharted or Mario. The other reason is more up to the big companies like Sony and Microsoft where they have to look at their console and think “What can we do to try to make this the console of the generation?”. Developing an exclusive title allows you to really tailor your creation to the specifics of the console and not to have to worry about how those kinds of features will be implemented otherwise, examples of this would be the morality light on the controller for Infamous: Second Son or Kinect integration for Dead Rising 3.

When considering a console it is up to the features and the games available that will make a consumer decide which one they want to purchase and exclusives are what helps to drive this. If there was no exclusives then there would be no competition and while radical fanboyism is not generally appreciated a small bit of it helps drive the video game industry to develop better hardware and better software. There has been incredible growth in the industry from the competition between two hard hitters such as Sony and Microsoft and if it were only up to features of a console and not exclusives then there might not be that competition.

Releasing multiplatform or exclusive gaming has both good sides and bad sides but with the creation of the timed exclusives it means that you are able to get the best of both sides of the argument. You are able to release a game for a single console to push those console sales which means even if you own a different platform if you are desperate to play the game then you may purchase the console. After the timed period is over you are then able to open out the game to all consumers and increase the market you are selling your game to. This is what makes the idea of a timed multiplatform release a good idea, we have seen the lead up to this with timed PS4 exclusive content for Destiny and early access content in Call of Duty for Xbox so why not have an entire game timed?

Destiny Timed Exclusivity on PS4

Playstation 4 is getting timed exclusives too

Do you agree with me and think that all types of releases are needed? or are you at the complete opposite stand point? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Andrew Stretch

Events Coordinator

I have been playing all kinds of games for as long as I can remember with a particular interest in action adventure and platforming titles. While I am primarily an Xbox gamer I also spend a fair bit of time on the PS4 and on my PC in VR.