It’s a war that’s been raging on since the dawn of the console existence. In recent years it’s turned some parts of our global community so toxic that even Chernobyl feels like a safer place to be, and yet in an era capable of showcasing some of the finest works of art within its many games, the console which you play on is still a subject that’s enough to add the fuel to the fire behind hundreds and thousands of gamers, dividing opinion entirely.
Why in 2017 must we be in a situation that allows us to choose from thousands of games – a passion we all share – yet can see us ridiculed, hassled, and arguing just because of the platform which we choose to enjoy?
Why must we be limited to what we can play thanks to the choice of hardware we own and the corporate figures behind them? Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, listen up… you’ve been doing it all wrong for years and here’s what you can do to change gaming for the better.
Before we go any further however, I should probably let you know that this isn’t the ramblings of an unsatisfied fanboy, and in actual fact whilst the Xbox consoles are the ones I choose to spend most of my time with, I am also an owner of each of the most recent consoles in the PlayStation and Nintendo families, and tend to dabble with my fair share of PC gaming too. So this is instead the thoughts of a gamer who wants to see exclusivity done right, regardless of platform choice.
So, it’s fair to say that even though I may have this big wish for everyone to be part of gaming together, exclusivity isn’t going away any time soon. But for me, the way in which each company goes about utilising business powers just to ensure a select group of people can play a game on their specific piece of hardware is the wrong way to go about things. In the past few years, games such as Gears of War, Forza, Halo, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us, Zelda and Mario have lit up their respective platforms, bringing enjoyment to those who played them and provided yet another reason as to why gaming has risen so much in popularity with their unique experiences.
Upon release of each title though and indeed many others, the gaming world has been divided. Console platforms have been quick to showcase their best efforts, creating competition between each other to provide the best gaming experiences for their section of the market, but in turn this has caused many members of the gaming community, all of which are passionate gamers, to spend time debating away about which game is the best, or which they can play that others can’t – all because of the poor practices in place from the platform holders. At present, exclusivity in gaming is dividing our community, it’s dividing us with the way we play, it’s dividing us with games we have access too, and it’s dividing the opinion of a group of people who all share the same common interest.
In recent years, exclusivity hasn’t just dictated what games we can play either. It’s been used to take away gaming experiences from certain console owners for specific periods of time, and it has taken away a lot of the value in the experience a particular game can give – despite the fact that we all spend the same money for the same thing. Should this be acceptable? Of course not. But how can we remedy this? It’s quite simple actually.
Exclusivity is without doubt harming our experiences within gaming, but it’s not entirely the worst thing in the world either, and I’m not saying it should go away all together as if done right, it can have a very valuable place in the gaming industry. So, here’s what I think could ensure a better gaming experience for all, whilst retaining the values of what it brings to the market in terms of business.
The first and most important change would be to stop exclusive games and exclusive content – timed or not – entirely. It’s fair to say that every gamer out there buys their chosen platform because they love gaming. So instead of splitting us with what we can play, bring every game to every console; bring Halo to PlayStation, bring Gran Turismo to Xbox, bring Pokemon to all, bring downloadable content to every gamer at the same time, and turn games into games again instead of a marketing tool.
By doing this every gamer would immediately benefit from thousands of new gaming opportunities and we could all enjoy the same experiences. In terms of business, such a move would no doubt be a profitable one with each game then open to a much wider audience, therefore improving sales and making for a larger and more active player base going forward. We all spend the same money, so why shouldn’t we enjoy the same experiences?
The next thing to change is the way we play. Give us the option for cross-platform play no matter the platform, and give us cross-platform play for every gaming experience that comes to the market. Allow PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and PC gamers to enjoy their games together as one. Doing this would not only allow all gamers to enjoy their favourite games together, but it would also provide games a much longer-lived online community, therefore extending the time players can enjoy their favourite games online.
To take it further, why not allow players to join their friends in party-chat regardless of the platform they play, and dive into a co-op experience together? This would probably go a long way to fixing the toxicity that has plagued the online community for so long and help unite players once more, making gaming a nicer pastime for all.
Of course, you could argue that without exclusive gaming, the competition between the platform giants would no-doubt disappear, therefore making the choice between platforms irrelevant whilst potentially ruining the entire business side of gaming completely. In turn, such drastic changes could allow the corporate giants to take further control of the gaming market and our gaming experiences as a whole. So how can we keep exclusivity in gaming, whilst removing the restrictions facing the many gamers out there? What better place than within our hardware choices instead.
As I previously stated, I myself am an owner of each of the different platforms on the market, and as someone who plays each one regularly one thing that has become quite clear is that whilst the games available on each platform are usually different due to the exclusivity tied to them, the overall console experience is generally a rather similar experience. Whilst the controllers and the look are certainly different, the features within each give very little reason to buy one over the other, at least in terms of Xbox and PlayStation. Despite the fact many users will argue as to which console is the best, each of the main consoles have their own achievement/trophy system, both have their own club style system and without the game exclusivity, none of them have anything different that makes owning that console any better than the other.
So how do we fix the issue of exclusive gaming? Simple. Take away every aspect of exclusivity in games and allow every game to be played on every console. Ensure every gaming release is fully cross-platform compatible, and allow gamers to come together regardless of console choice, and finally take the effort that’s put into marketing and exclusivity deals, and utilise it to put more effort into what each respective console is capable of. Give us a reason to buy your console, but put features in that we won’t see on any other, and make the console an exclusive experience rather than the games that we all want to play.
So, do you agree with these thoughts? Is exclusive gaming something of the future or would things be better if we were brought together with these changes to the industry? Let us know in the comments below or via our usual social channels.