Marvel’s Avengers’ Spider-Man and PlayStation deal is the worst kind of exclusive

Marvel’s Avengers has revealed that Spider-Man will be a PlayStation-exclusive, with your Friendly Neighborhood Sony-man swinging onto the PS4 and PS5 while skipping the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. This is an example of one of the worst kinds of console exclusive, locking players out of exciting DLC solely due to their platform of choice.

Crystal Dynamics revealed the exclusivity deal in a post published on the official PlayStation blog. “We can’t wait for you to add Spider-Man to your Marvel’s Avengers roster in early 2021,” wrote Associate Art Director Jeff Adams, “and as we’ve promised before, he will be available at no additional cost to owners of the base game, exclusively on PlayStation.”

Console exclusives are part and parcel of the games industry. Games frequently release on one platform, while timed exclusives are now also a thing, forcing owners of certain systems to wait it out for an unspecified period of time to get a game on their console. These deals can be frustrating for consumers, though they can also give studios some much-needed funding and help with a game’s development.

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However, this new Marvel’s Avengers exclusivity deal represents the worst kind of outcome. Unless you’re one of those wrong’uns who flies their flag for a console manufacturer as though it were your local sports team, there’s no benefit here for any consumer. Regardless of Sony’s decision to stamp an exclusivity deal on Spider-Man, the hero was always going to come to Marvel’s Avengers — he would have instead been available to everyone, not just PlayStation owners.

Spider-Man, literally the most famous Marvel hero, would undoubtedly still be in the biggest Marvel video game even if the Sony deal wasn’t on the table. This exclusivity deal hasn’t helped bring Spider-Man to the game, nor has it provided the financial support needed to make Marvel’s Avengers happen. It has simply taken one of Marvel’s biggest heroes away from those who only own non-PlayStation platforms.

Considering how passionate comic book fans can be, and how long many have waited for a proper Avengers game adaptation, keeping Spider-Man locked to PlayStation consoles isn’t exactly a consumer-friendly move. Yes, this is likely to get more people playing Marvel’s Avengers on PS4 and PS5 than elsewhere, and there will be people who argue this particular point. But ultimately, we shouldn’t be defending business practices that reduce the quality of a game on several platforms to increase its profits on others.

This move has been compared to the controversial Soul Calibur IV, which locked certain characters to certain platforms. However, whereas in Soul Calibur IV players at least received exclusive characters across PS3 and Xbox 360, this Marvel’s Avengers exclusivity deal will only see Xbox and PC players losing out.

With the next console generation nearly upon us, we should hope that Sony’s move here won’t be reflective of its plans to lure players away from Xbox in the future. With the gaming industry moving closer towards cross-platform play, exclusivity like the Spider-Man deal would be a big step in the wrong direction.