Despite the industry steadily moving towards its inevitable digital-only future, console exclusives are still a huge selling point for manufacturers. Big games like God of War, Breath of the Wild, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection have each been used to convince players to pick up a new console, and it’s imaginable that we’ll be seeing plenty more in the next console generation.
But should these exclusives continue to be so prevalent? Do we really need games that only launch on one console in the future, or should we be championing a multiplatform utopia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Paul Tamburro, executive editor: “Begrudgingly, yes. While the gaming industry is in a different place now compared to when the PS4 and Xbox One launched, I still think consoles are reliant on those exclusives to pull in their audiences. It’s curious that Microsoft appears to be moving further away from exclusives, when its lack of Xbox-only titles was arguably what caused the Xbox One to struggle this generation.”
Jason Faulkner, senior editor: “I suppose from a consumer standpoint console exclusives are undesirable, but they’re one of the only things that keeps consoles competitive. From a hardware point of view the PS4 and Xbox One are pretty close. They share the same architecture, and when it comes down to it they’re just x86-64 computers running custom software with a little bit of custom hardware. Gone are the days of the Emotion Engine and the Cell processor, and the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett are probably going to be even more similar than current-gen consoles. Sony and Microsoft really just have branding, online services, and exclusive games to differentiate themselves now.
“One of the reasons the PS4 is so far ahead of Xbox this gen is because of good exclusive games. The Xbox One X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro, but doesn’t offer God of War, The Last of Us Remastered, Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, Spider-Man, Bloodborne, or Uncharted. With Xbox this gen you’ve got one Halo game and some old Halo games with Master Chief Collection as true exclusives. That isn’t even going to last for long since Microsoft is porting all the Halo games to Windows, and every other exclusive the Xbox has is available on PC. We can already see that Microsoft is trying to rectify the Xbox’s deficit of exclusives by purchasing studios and converting them to first-party developers, so I think console exclusives are going to be an even bigger thing for the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett than they were for the PS4 and Xbox One.”
Mack Ashworth, lead editor: “For someone like me, who’s fully open to PC gaming and prefers to play multiplatform games on PC, exclusives are really the only things that keep me coming back to consoles. I actually ended up selling my Xbox One due to the lack of exclusives, as I could just play those Microsoft games on PC instead. Sony has already pulled me in with The Last of Us 2. Now I’m waiting for Microsoft to earn my attention.”
Michael Leri, features editor: “I know it sounds great for all console owners to live together with the same pool of games but we need to have console exclusives next generation. While fewer and fewer each generation, these games give consoles a unique flavor that helps breed competition. Would Microsoft have been compelled to buy all those studios if the Xbox One had just gotten the PS4 exclusives? Hell no.”
“And while more cross-communication wouldn’t be bad, I would like each one to keep some games to themselves because that is where the true magic can happen, especially if each has different guts.”