E3 2014: “Exclusive Content” Is Not Good For Gamers

It’s no secret that there are more multiplatform games than ever before, which has certainly made what exclusives remain even more important to the console makers. This trend towards almost everything being multiplatform really started last generation, and there is no indication it will change anytime soon. As a result, we’ve seen Microsoft and Sony shift their focus towards obtaining exclusive content, first access DLC, and other minor bonuses to try and make their version of multiplatform games the best one. However, during this year’s E3 press conferences this concept has really gotten out of hand.

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During both the Microsoft and Sony press conferences it seemed like pretty much every game shown had either exclusive content, exclusive betas, or timed exclusive DLC. Microsoft was pretty good about just flashing that info on screen and not making a big deal out of it, but Sony insisted on touting these “exclusives” like they’re something to be proud of. Even more distressing is the fact that every time they announced one of these things the crowd erupted in applause. Despite what Microsoft and Sony want us to believe, these pieces of exclusive content are not good for gamers and are certainly not something to be cheered.

When they make these announcements they like to present them as if loyal owners of their console are getting extra content, but the reality is that other gamers are simply missing out on content. The only exclusive content of either press conference that was actually worth cheering were the infected from The Last of Us making an appearance in Diablo III. That is an example of content that was made specifically for a certain console and couldn’t exist on another system, so it’s much more justifiable than most examples of exclusive content. In most other instances when a console maker announces that their version of a multiplaform game is getting exclusive content, what they are really saying is that they paid the game’s publisher to prevent gamers on other consoles from getting the complete experience, which simply a crummy thing to do.

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There’s really no getting around the fact that both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are incredibly similar machines with comparable feature sets that will end up sharing 90% of the same library of games. With this reality it’s certainly understandable that these companies will do everything in their power to differentiate their system from the competition. However, no rational human being is going to make a $400 purchasing decision based on the ability to play the Destiny beta a week early, buy Call of Duty map packs a month early, or to get bonus costumes and weapons for a game on one platform over the other. These exclusive content deals provide no benefit to anyone and only ever take things away from the gamers that happen to have the other console, and they should never be cheered by anyone.