Rise of the Tomb Raider’s timed Xbox exclusivity brings up an age-old question: is it better or worse for a game to hit only one platform? People are certainly upset about Tomb Raider’s limited availability, but in their ire they may be forgetting that exclusives do have pros to go along with their cons.
MULTI-PLATFORM ADVANTAGE: More people can play
Multi-platform games are able to reach more people, purely by virtue of casting a wider net. The more systems a game releases on, the more likely more people will play it. Would Call of Duty be as popular as it is if it was only on Xbox? Probably not. By tossing out the spoils to more onlookers, the gaming community is less likely to be divided. This isn’t rocket science; it’s basic math.
EXCLUSIVE ADVANTAGE: Standing out in a crowded market
An exclusive game can stand out in the crowd with much less effort than a multi-platform release. It represents the console itself, a connection that a multi-platform game cannot achieve. That connection can result in collaboration with other parties, such as a stronger marketing source or even the console manufacturer itself. Super Smash Bros. games have consistently been among the best-selling titles on each Nintendo console and the most talked-about games of their respective generations. Even without a large library of games around it, Smash Bros. got plenty of attention as the exclusive Nintendo couldn’t help but flaunt.
MULTI-PLATFORM ADVANTAGE: Creates a shared experience
Console wars divide gamers into sects, but popular games that are available to everyone help bring them together. If a series like Assassin’s Creed is great, then that greatness can bring Sony and Microsoft fans closer than they woul be if the game was exclusive (or even delayed on certain platforms). Similarly, if a multi-platform game is awful, we can all rally around hating it. Multi-platform games let gamers form collective opinions, despite being on different sides of the console war.
EXCLUSIVE ADVANTAGE: Can bring out the most in a system
By focusing on a single system, a developer can invest all of their expertise into mastering just the single version. There’s a reason that exclusives usually demonstrate the best art direction, the fewest technical issues, and the best game design. Whether it’s an inventive new control scheme or an impressive shading trick, developers who are intimately familiar with the ins and outs of a specific platform have an advantage over those who have to worry about portability. Many multi-platform games – especially cross-generational ones – are jacks of all trades and masters of none.
So, are you for exclusives or multi-platform games? Does Genesis do what Nintendon’t? Share your thoughts in the comments below!