It is time to dig a fresh grave. It is time to bury the bloodied and beaten corpse of the internet’s latest victim. Stroll past the crypts of pirates, ninjas, zombies, April Fool’s Day and funny cat photos. Help me lay the body of the video game exclusive to rest. I don’t mean the games themselves, of course. No, the term itself has died as it has effectively lost all meaning.
I recently commented about the hidden meta game played by extremist console fans. To these people playing and enjoying video games is not nearly as important as scoring imaginary points against others who happen to enjoy different things. Few battles are as bitterly fought by extremist fans as the exclusive video game. I am not certain exactly when the concept of an exclusive game became such a hotly debated topic but I don’t recall the term coming up too often during the days of competition between the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Companies certainly touted their exclusives; the “Only On Nintendo” graphics on game boxes are testament to that. However, gamers back then didn’t become quite so hostile about the subject. It seems to me that the argument over exclusives escalated during the last console generation. After all, that was the generation when three rival consoles could all claim massive success so of course the extremist fans had to create a new battleground to wage war against people who like different things.
For better or for worse the exclusivity label has been overused, misapplied and taken so far out of context that the word has effectively lost any meaning when applied to video games. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed exclusive. No Man’s Sky will have an “exclusive console debut” which is just a fancy way of saying it is a timed exclusive. Fans of Xbox systems have likely encountered the argument that a game such as Ori and the Blind Forest is not really an Xbox One exclusive because Microsoft also published the game on PC. More specifically, Microsoft published the game on Windows- a platform that Microsoft also owns. Yes, the extremist fans would have you believe that Microsoft has “lost” exclusivity of their own IP simply because they published the game on the other platform they happen to own. Does that mean a games status of exclusivity is tied to the hardware it is played on?
If so, then what about The Last of Us? Did Sony lose exclusivity of that game because it is available to stream through PlayStation Now? Did Sony lose exclusivity of Ico, Ratchet & Clank, God of War and the first two Uncharted games as they are also available on PlayStation Now? After all, you don’t even need a PlayStation console to play these games. A recent Samsung Smart TV will work just fine for streaming PlayStation Now games.
What about Helldivers which is due to be published by Sony on Steam next month? What if more of Sony games end up on Steam?
None of this really matters that much in the long run. Extremist fans are never logical creatures no matter which side they are on. It would just be nice if we could discuss the quality of the games themselves instead of every facet about a game except for, you know, the actual game.