In years past, people tended to buy systems for exclusive games. After all, you wanted to have a console with titles you would actually enjoy. Years have come and gone, and exclusives still exist. Anyone who bought a Xbox One for Halo, PlayStation 4 for Uncharted, or Switch for The Legend of Zelda could tell you that. Yet, there’s a new exclusivity frontier that’s only gaining power as time goes on and will very likely end up being the go-to topic when people make decisions about systems.
I’m referring to exclusive content. With so many third-party developers and publishers out there, we’re starting to see generations where the majority games are available on every platform. So, how do people compete? Well, companies have started working out deals to ensure betas, in-game content, and add-ons either come earlier or only to their systems. It certainly seems like such offers are what could drive system purchases and console wars from here on out.
Let’s take game betas as an example. While these are primarily a means for developers and publishers to help make sure elements of a game are working, they also act as demos for titles. The PlayStation 4 has a habit of getting exclusive or early betas. There was an exclusive Hitman beta for the console. Not to mention, Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: WWII will both offer early access to PlayStation 4 owners. Do you honestly think people will rush to a Xbox One, build a better PC, or even grab a Switch if it’s only the PlayStation 4 that will give these early or extended sneak peeks? I doubt it. It’s quite a selling point.
Then, there are early releases in general. Games often allow certain platforms exclusivity periods with DLC. Call of Duty is best known for its PlayStation deal, but games like Destiny 2, Watch Dogs 2, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Assassin’s Creed also have such arrangements in place. Microsoft even arranged timed-exclusives for Battlefield series installments in the past. Some of these are competitive titles where people want to know as much as possible as quickly as possible, because that gives them an edge over their opponents. In other cases, a game may start getting stale and need the extra activities infusions.
While the Switch doesn’t have the luxury of exclusive deals with such games, it’s even offering its own arrangements. Rayman Legends Definitive Edition has an improved Kung Foot mode with extra features and options. Its version of Cave Story will include a local co-op mode. It will also be the first console to add multiplayer to Stardew Valley. Even Nintendo is working out deals to try and make its system more attractive.
As exciting as console-exclusive games are, perhaps we’re moving into an era where it isn’t the primary reason people purchase a console. After all, we don’t see as many exclusive games as we did back in previous generations. Maybe as more multiplatform releases take the stage, we’ll see exclusive beta assess and demos and timed DLC and features as the elements motivating sales.