Once upon a time, video game exclusives were a simple concept. Either a game was available for more than one console or it wasn’t. It was hardly a perfect concept but at least everyone knew the score.
Now…well, now things are slightly more complicated.
Now, a game can be available for more than one console, but feature content that is exclusive to certain consoles or exclusive for a time. Gamers who purchased Resident Evil 7 for PlayStation 4 were able to access the game’s DLC add-ons weeks before Xbox and PC owners, for instance.
This concept has created some tension among console owners. In a way, the idea of timed exclusive content or content that is exclusive to certain games based on which console you own is more annoying than a game simply being exclusive. You used to be able to buy a console knowing that certain franchises were simply going to only be available for certain consoles. These days, you kind of have to be able to predict which of your favorite games might receive exclusive content.
As strange as this new approach to exclusive content usually is, the relationship between Sony and Destiny thus far has been downright bizarre.
If you owned Destiny on the PlayStation 4, you got to enjoy exclusive content, an earlier beta, timed release exclusives, and the chance to buy a pretty sweet Destiny-themed PlayStation 4. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that Destiny and the upcoming Destiny 2 are PlayStation 4 exclusives.
That seems to be the point. Sony wants you to believe that the only way to truly experience Destiny is to play it on the PlayStation 4. They even go so far as to prevent commercials in certain markets from even stating that Destiny is available for the Xbox. That’s quite the low blow when you consider that Destiny was almost an Xbox exclusive years ago.
Now, if you own a PlayStation 4 and love Destiny, you’re probably not bothered by any of this. Sony invests more money into Destiny, so why shouldn’t they receive favorable treatment? Besides, it’s more content for you.
What’s scary is the precedent this relationship sets. It’s easy to imagine a future where there are very few true exclusives due to the increasing expense of developing video games, but Microsoft and Sony still spend money to curry the favor of third-party publishers and convince them to hold back certain content.
This creates an ethical dilemma. At what point do developers begin holding significant pieces of content hostage until ransom demands are met? The Sony/Destiny relationship represents the most extreme example of this tactic that we’ve seen thus far, but does anyone believe that this tactic will not become more popular as time goes on?
There was a time when exclusives were just that. Exclusive. If the Sony/Destiny relationship is any indication, there may come a day when every game is exclusive and no game is exclusive. Meanwhile, console owners everywhere are left hoping they won’t end up with too many inferior versions of games on their shelves.