A Hadouken Too Far? More on Platform Exclusivity

So this topic comes up again with what should be a bigger knee-jerk than the last time. Street Fighter is a bigger franchise due to its history and wider appeal, so there seemed to be more attention this time around compared to Rise of the Tomb Raider being announced as an Xbox One exclusive. With the announcement of Street Fighter V and its exclusion from the Xbox One, the waves of reactionary rage were more palpable, so much that I had to write this follow-up.

This serves as an addendum to my first article regarding this issue, especially since I don’t think of it now as clean cut as I did before. I talked about platform exclusivity in that post, concluding that it should be perfectly fine for the most part. I wrote it in response to the result of an online debate I had with a friend, as well as how most people respond to a game being announced as an exclusive.

Please read the first article before proceeding in order to understand the context of what follows below.

Since the First Article

Let me start this off with a bit of a rant.

I have backtracked a little bit since I posted the first article because it still sounded like companies bathing themselves in money and letting the peasants eat cake. There is still much to grumble about when it comes to this practice due to customers who can’t play an exclusive title just because they happen to own “the other console”.

Never mind that in the back of my head, I think of consoles in this day and age to be somewhat ridiculous (I hold no sentiment for gaming on the couch in front of the TV as the “true essence of gaming”) and perhaps even a scam; I own consoles nowadays and have plans to buy more.

There is little I can do anyway as a consumer and reluctant acceptance is the attitude I’ve ultimately taken upon with this. I can just take whatever games I can get in the platforms I do own whenever I’m willing to part with some disposable income.

Sorry about that, I just had to get it off my system. I think I was too soft and corporate in the previous one, but it seems that reluctant acceptance really is the inevitable conclusion here. In this follow-up article though, I would like to talk more about compromise and finding the silver lining in all of this.


After brewing on it a bit longer and listening to some gaming podcasts (particularly The Co-optional Podcast), as well as taking my personal feelings aside for a more balanced viewpoint, I came to a conclusion that I totally missed in that first article. (It’s nothing groundbreaking or original though.)

Platform exclusivity for a game is fair if the publisher in question is the original owner of that intellectual property.

It’s not by any means a hard and fast rule, but it could reflect badly on a product in the long run if this principle is disregarded. In the first article, I mentioned that if the series in question has been there for a very long time, then platform exclusivity on a new title while its predecessors were available for multiple platforms should be a bad move. That was the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider since the Tomb Raider reboot was available for major consoles.

With Rise of the Tomb Raider, it gets a pass since it was later revealed to be a timed exclusive for the Xbox One instead of permanent. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics were not the original proprietors of the Tomb Raider franchise — that would be Eidos Interactive. Crystal Dynamics had been given responsibility for making Tomb Raider games when Eidos purchased them, and Square Enix would go on to purchase Eidos and its holdings.

The timed exclusive deal for Rise of the Tomb Raider is understandable, and perhaps Microsoft even needs it more now due to recent developments. This leads to the announcement of Street Fighter V, which had more heads exploding compared to Rise of the Tomb Raider announcement. What I said in the first article is now rendered irrelevant; few could have anticipated this move by Capcom.

Street Fighter V

Street Fighter VThe latest iteration of Capcom’s flagship series is going to be exclusive on PS4 and PC, so there won’t be an Xbox One version. This puts PS4 even further up the 8th gen mountain. As of this writing, the Nintendo Wii U is up higher (despite the really slow start), but Sony is starting to catch up really fast. Then again, the Xbox One is not a miserable failure like a lot of trolls and Sony fanboys would like to think.

Going by the principle quoted above, Capcom is well within their right to release Street Fighter V for the PS4 and not for the Xbox One. Maybe it’s the dismal sales of the more western Xbox One in Japan that made Capcom consider this surprising move. At least it’s also coming out for the PC, so it’s not like a large chunk of the market will never get to play the game.

It’s a rather interesting case though since it’s said that the best platform for playing Ultra Street Fighter IV is the Xbox 360 due to the online player base on Xbox Live and the lack of frame skip like in the PS3. Now that the Xbox line is totally out of the running for the sequel, the PS4 and PSN better be good enough for this game.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Obviously, the advantage is being able to make up your mind more easily. Street Fighter V gives me a much bigger reason to get a PS4 (although I might get a Wii U before that), so I can say first hand that the practice does seem to work in swaying the consumers’ judgment. If you’re in the market for a new console, then you can look at lists of exclusives on the Internet to help with your decision. Online services such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Network may also play a factor in that process as well.

Another pro here with Street Fighter in particular is the potential for a more unified player base. Street Fighter IV is beset by the players on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC being divided, which is a long-term detriment and can be off-putting for those who get into the game only to find the experience rather lacking. I myself don’t have an Xbox 360 (yet), but I did buy both PS3 and PC versions of Ultra Street Fighter IV to play as many online matches as I can to get better. However, it hasn’t been enough and I’m now thinking of getting an Xbox 360, even though I should be saving up for that PS4.

As for the disadvantage, those who don’t have the cash will have to make do with just one platform (I had been a PC-only gamer for over 15 years before finally getting a PS3). Also, most console owners tend to only own one, so they have to choose wisely for themselves. As for playing games that are not on their chosen console, they’ll have to either play it at a friend’s house, make due with not playing it at all, or just watch playthrough videos on YouTube.

With fighting games like Street Fighter, it’s common for a lot of players to only be able to play them somewhere other than home like an arcade or a friend’s house, so perhaps it’s not a total loss. Sony did score a victory with Capcom’s recent decision, and the PS4 is also the home for other fighting games like Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (which also has crossplay with PS3), but it’s not like the Xbox One wouldn’t be a good system for fighting games. Maybe since the Xbox 360 had its time, then it’s Sony’s turn now with the PS4 being the fighting game platform of choice.

Microsoft still has Killer Instinct, which is a game that had me considering saving up for an Xbox One (not to mention my lingering doubts with PSN’s online multiplayer capabilities). But then again, Microsoft themselves are now considering porting Killer Instinct to PC, which I’ll be watching out for. If it does come out for the PC, then there goes my desire for an Xbox One (maybe for now).

†: This paragraph was added on 2014-12-15.

Conclusion

This is where I thank my friend again for the debate we had on Facebook that resulted in the first article. With both of these articles, I can conclude that it’s absolutely alright when these things happen, despite remaining pockets of reluctance in the back of my mind. Even Microsoft thinks it’s fair game, so it’s not like a travesty has occurred.

With that said though, perhaps it really is all upon the consumer’s discretion, and I say this as someone who generally dislikes using caveat emptor as a be-all, end-all conclusion to such a discussion. As long as one doesn’t fall into the traps of relying on coping mechanisms such as becoming a fanboy for one system over the other, making a choice on which platform to own shouldn’t be too hard.

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