Timed Exclusives – Perhaps it is not all bad.
Over the last year or so there has been a lot of kerfuffle in the gaming community about 3rd party timed exclusives. This is mainly due to two games, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Street Fighter 5. Both of these games brought the internet down upon themselves when they announced they would be exclusives when previously they have appeared on all consoles. Microsoft drew first blood with Tomb Raider at E3 last year and that was quickly followed a few weeks later by Street Fighter coming exclusively to the PS4. A lot of fans of these series will miss out, at least initially, due to the nature of these deals so rightfully they are upset. Sure buying both consoles is an option for some but many cannot justify the extra significant expense. However if you give me a minute I might be able to explain why it isn’t all bad news.
Firstly I want to look at both of these games. Out of the gate the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal generated a lot of ill will. Considering the entire series had been released on Sony systems it is easy to see why Playstation players were upset that their favourite adventurer wasn’t coming to their console. But what needs to be taken into consideration is money. Now the money argument isn’t as simple as Microsoft rolling up to Square HQ with a suitcase full of cash. For quite some time after the Tomb Raider reboot came out Square were in a little bit of a financial pickle. A couple of their games hadn’t succeeded the way they had anticipated and things were looking a little grim. This led to the very real possibility that Tomb Raider wouldn’t get a sequel for quite some time, or if it did it would be a sub-par one simply updating the current game slightly. So when Microsoft approached them about an exclusivity deal that would see the house of Xbox take on the majority of advertising and publishing costs as well as giving Square a nice healthy amount of cash to inject into the game Square simply couldn’t say no. The effects of this deal within Square would also have flowed throughout the entire company with resources once dedicated to Tomb Raider now able to be redirected to other gaming products. The very real truth here is that Microsoft investing in Tomb Raider could mean that we get to see games like Sleeping Dogs 2, a new Hitman game or even better some new IP. How could a company decline the opportunity to do that?
Now with Street Fighter 5 it is a slightly different story. The tale goes that Capcom wanted cross play functionality between all consoles and PC within the game and that Microsoft didn’t want to play ball with that request (rightly or wrongly I’ll let you be the judge). This lead Sony to offering Capcom an exclusivity deal that would see the game locked down for life. Now Xbox SF fans were rightly annoyed at this but once again it isn’t all bad news. This extra injection of capital into a company such as Capcom will once again allow them to branch out and make more of the crazy stuff they are known for. Azuras Wrath, Remember Me and Dead Rising all don’t exist without Street Fighter. The sudden influx of development resources brought in by the deal with Sony would allow Capcom to improve the state of the entire company. Also I would like to look at the exclusivity deal here in another light. Street Fighter 5 will be only available on PS4 and PC, however I believe that no one has mentioned what will happen to Super Street Fighter 5 or Super Street Fighter 5 Championship Edition Turbo. My point being there is every chance that a later version of the game will make it to Microsoft’s console and the chance of that version being even better due to the Sony deal is significant.
The reality of the situation is that in this day and age AAA titles cost a fortune to develop and publishers need to work out ways to ensure they have the resources at their disposal to continue making games. In both of these instances there was a very real possibility of these games not being released in a timely manner, being released in a mediocre state or even not being released at all. The exclusivity deals have allowed the developers to create the games that they want to create without the burden of super tight budgets forcing corner cutting and short cuts.
In the lead up to E3 there is every chance that more of these sorts of deals will be announced and there is a chance that you, as the gamer, will end up with the short end of the stick. By all means be disappointed, after all it is upsetting that you may not be able to play a game you are looking forward to. But perhaps just take a minute or two to look at the reasons why it occurred and how possibly you may benefit in the future from such a deal. There is a silver lining folks and in this case it is more games for everyone, not just one console or the other.