Console exclusives have always been the bread and butter of new hardware. Halo was always Xbox’s baby, while Sony has had the likes of Ratchet and Clank and Uncharted, among many others. However, exclusivity might be taking a step back with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and that’s not a bad thing.
Many like to tout exclusives as the most crucial part of any console. Most recently, a Sony executive vice president, Simon Rutter, claimed to The Guardian that exclusives are more important “than they’ve ever been.”
Through their proximity to the system’s designers, PlayStation’s studios are able to really extract the most out of the system performance and that’s a really valuable attribute for a platform holder to have.
[PlayStation] can rely on a studio network that can really show off the innovations that we’re trying to put across … when the exclusives are as powerful as Marvel’s Spider-Man or Horizon, they are important games that people want to play.”
While he’s not wrong that exclusives can be vital, Rutter is overplaying their importance. Accessibility is the real key factor.
Want to know one of the most hyped games at the recent PlayStation 5 conference? Resident Evil 8, a title that is releasing on all next-generation platforms and PC. One that’s taking great advantage of new hardware to provide gorgeous graphics and near-zero loading times.
Do you know what Xbox has? Game Pass. A service providing hundreds of games, exclusives, and otherwise, for a monthly fee. Assuming the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are in the $500-$600 range, one low additional cost is a much better pitch than buying two $60 exclusives on top of the console.
The Nintendo Switch sells not only because of exclusives but portability. There’s a reason gamers beg for multi-platform Switch ports all the time.
What sells consoles? The surrounding culture. An excellent online experience. A well-designed controller and support for a wide variety of games.
This isn’t to mention the top-selling franchises every year are multi-platform. Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft, FIFA, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto–these are all available on every platform. Hell, Sony’s press conference opened with the non-exclusive Grand Theft Auto V.
Taking this into account, Rutter seems to be overemphasizing console exclusives to boost the PlayStation 5’s presence. Unfortunately, it will take more than those to win over a generation. Half of those PlayStation 5 games are coming to PC, anyway.