The Next Generation Will Thrive or Die on Exclusives
Exclusive titles have been a big deal for videogame consoles since the major game console developers began competing with each other. The competition between platforms has led to developers signing on for console-exclusive titles and for these titles being make-or-break for them. The most obvious example of this would be Nintendo’s first party titles that have set the standard for years to come by the way of the Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Mario Kart and many other series. If you want to see what is going on with Mario or Link, you’ll need to have that next Nintendo console or else you’ll be left in the dark.
Some companies have had less luck when it comes to developing those must-have first party titles with there being no better example than Sega. Sega has a bunch of incredible titles that they’ve published over the years and have introduced some amazing characters and stories, with their most notable mascot being Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic did a lot of work to try to catch up to Mario, but ultimately Sonic was not marketable enough to keep Sega in the hardware business and the Sega Dreamcast was the end of an era of Nintendo’s main competitor being Sega.
The market has shifted now and both Sony and Microsoft are the big dogs out there competing with Nintendo and both have their own exclusive titles, which vary when it comes to market penetration. Microsoft has done a fantastic job with pushing the Halo series as their bread-and-butter, making the Xbox and Xbox 360 seen as the natural successor to windows-based FPS games of the turn of the century. Hell, the controller was even devised with FPS games in mind, which is really all that you can ask for. Since then we’ve seen a wide array of games with the Halo name attached to it and Master Chief is one of the heavies in the world of gaming.
Microsoft has had some other successes with stuff like Gears of War and Fable, but those have not been able to duplicate the success seen with the Halo series.
Sony has also had some great successes when it comes to pushing exclusive titles, with developer Naughty Dog leading the pack for quality titles across all of the PlayStation platforms from PlayStation One to PlayStation 3. Naughty Dog have introduced the PlayStation world to an array of characters from Crash Bandicoot to Jak to Nathan Drake, developing a few games in each series before moving on to the next. Outside of Naughty Dog it has been hit-or-miss. We’ve seen Sony try to play catch up when it comes to Microsoft’s Halo in both the Killzone and Resistance franchises and sadly neither one has been able to really make a dent into Microsoft’s offering.
In a way, Sony has yet to really have that defining character, but they have had so many great exclusives that it is hard to argue against what they are doing.
For all three companies, this next generation is going to need their best push yet as technology is rapidly advancing and games are being played by more people on more variable platforms every day. The cost of putting together a PC that will outperform most consoles and will feature most of the games is lowering by the day, more and more games are being released for iOS and Android and it just feels like it is going to take a mighty push for consoles to not lose ground in the upcoming console battles. These next systems need killer apps right off of the bat and so far we’ve seen the Wii U launch without one, will Sony and Microsoft follow suit?