When it was announced that Square Enix’s Avengers game will be featuring Spider-Man exclusive to Sony’s Playstation, many fans went bananas. Some fans were excited that Sony was getting a cherished exclusive character. A large majority of fans were incensed that they were now losing out. The argument has been made that console exclusivity hurts gaming overall. Frankly, that argument is ludicrous on its face. Console exclusives are a necessary evil in the gaming industry.
BUSINESS 101: MAKE THE CONSUMER BUY YOUR PRODUCT
The notion that some people are gifted an incentive for buying a product is nothing new. The practice is everywhere, and not unique to video games at all. Best Buy incentivizes purchases of movies with exclusive Steelbook covers. Target on the other hand gives out packaged exclusives to buy the film at their stores. Its all about choice. The objective of any successful business is to make the consumer shop at your store. That’s basic business 101. Consumers will spend their money with whomever offers them the best deal or incentive. The extra content is what makes the difference. The film itself is no different. It’s identical regardless of whom you buy it from. So the deciding factor is the exclusive offer given to you.
This is the same principle with video game console exclusivity. This is not anything that is new for the industry either. Exclusivity has been the deciding factor for buying a console for at the past 3 generations. If the game you know you’re going to want to play is only on one system, you’re GOING to buy said system. This is another callback to that business 101 lesson from earlier. The consumer will be forced to go with what makes them the most interested in what is being offered.
With the differences between gaming consoles growing smaller and smaller, console makers need something to set them apart from the other. What is the point of getting any one system if you can play the same game regardless of which one you get? Exclusives make the consoles a more attractive buy. In the days of the PS2/XBOX/GC Namco’s Soul Calibur 2 game infamously featured Heihachi, Spawn and Link on the three systems respectively. While no one felt really left out because each system had its own character, you still wanted the other versions. Featuring Link was a stroke of genius, and a massive bonus in Nintendo’s favor. This made people who weren’t considering a GameCube, want one just to play with Link.
CONSOLE EXCLUSIVES SELL SYSTEMS. DON’T FOOL YOURSELF THINKING THEY DON’T.
Fans love to rail on console exclusives. Its their perspective that both timed exclusives, and console exclusives are borne out of greed. While they aren’t wrong to think that way, they are still a necessary evil. In the case of exclusive DLC, its a marketing tool being used to sell games. Spider-Man being exclusive to Sony, has zero to do with their perceived rights over the character. It does have everything to do with making a cross-platform game more attractive for their system.
Prior to the exclusivity announcement, my intention was to buy Avengers for my PC. Sony forced my hand. I’m getting the game for the Playstation, and also have been enticed by the early beta that is exclusive to Playstation. Sony succeeded in doing what they set out to do: force me, their consumer, to make a choice to play this game on their system, based on what they had. This isn’t going away anytime soon. The consoles need to incentivize games to be played on their systems.
I was one of the ones that was angry that Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 was an exclusive to the Nintendo Switch! I was such a fan of the series, but I was not going to buy the Switch just to play it! It’s my choice, and I’m not particularly missing out on anything by not getting it. But for some, having that game pushed them to have a Switch.
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE IT ALL TO ENJOY THE GAME.
Many years of playing MMORPGs like DC Universe or Star Trek Online has steeled my heart to exclusive or paid-DLC. I wanted an exclusive Enterprise from Discovery skin. I didn’t want to shell out money for it. But I still got to enjoy the base game. Had I purchased it, the novelty would’ve worn off quick since the ship is a glorified skin for a ship I already had. The core game still stayed the same and missing the DLC didn’t make much of a difference.
The good thing is, Spider-Man DLC is an optional add-on. It’s not part of the core gameplay, nor does he factor into story. So if you want to play the Avengers game, then play it. You’re not going to miss out by not having a PS4. His appearance doesn’t make or break the game or lessen the experience for those who don’t have the system.
Fans feel that they are entitled to everything. They believe that not letting them have a character not on a system they own is unfair. To that I can only say one thing: Life is rarely ever fair. No Spider-Man DLC on XBOX or PC? Oh well. I don’t get to play Legend of Zelda on my Playstation or PC either. Life will go on.