Cross platform games sell better; It's a good thing
When Microsoft announced this week that its upcoming time-bending shooter "Quantum Break" would arrive day-and-date on the PC, alongside the original Xbox One release, it should have been met with praise and happiness.
Instead, many were upset Microsoft was stealing yet another "exclusive" game from the Xbox One a system that has admittedly struggled to gain any sort of sales traction outside the United States. This has been a week of anger and disappointment for some and surprise and happiness for others. It's not all bad, though. Nor should it be. The more people that get to enjoy the newest game from the developers of "Max Payne" and "Alan Wake," the better, right? Apparently, not to some.
A long time ago, in living rooms far, far away ... video game consoles used to live and die on their exclusives. How many of us could forget the age-old rivalry between Mario and Sonic? You chose the platform that offered the games especially mascot platformers that appealed to you the most. Older consoles had such different design philosophies that multi-platform games were rare. These days, that's not necessarily the case.
Despite their obvious power differences, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have extremely similar architecture making cross-platform development much, much easier. The rising cost of game development as a whole ensures most games need to be released on the widest number of platforms to ensure profitability. That's why the PlayStation 2 was still receiving multi-platform games at the start of the latest console generation.
Exclusives, these days, are much more rare and thus less important. The best-selling games each year are the annual iterations of "Call of Duty," "Minecraft," "Grand Theft Auto V" and various sports titles. See anything in common? Each one is available, at the very least, on both the Xbox One and PS4. The similar libraries make it difficult for cash-strapped gamers and families to justify buying both consoles when 90 percent of the library is the same. That means some are going to miss out on those few must-have titles on that other system.
That's where Microsoft's PC release system comes into play. If players pre-order "Quantum Break" digitally, they'll get access to both the Xbox One and PC versions of the game for no additional cost. A Microsoft press release initially indicated upcoming Xbox One exclusives "Gears of War 4," "ReCore" and "Scalebound" would also follow this release structure. This is great news. Not only does this give more people an opportunity to purchase what could be amazing games, but it alsoi ncreases the chance for better sales, leading to further games in those respective franchises. Why is this a bad thing for people?
"Well, because the Xbox One is struggling and it needs all the help it can get," to quote random people complaining about it. There's just one problem with this theory: Xbox One exclusives aren't selling the console. The system has probably the most well-rounded exclusive lineup of any non-Nintendo console at this point in its life span with great titles like "Rise of the Tomb Raider," "Sunset Overdrive" and "Rare Replay," the first of which has already released on the PC this year. The system still struggles to compete against the PS4. "Halo 5: Guardians," once the single-biggest system mover, failed to do much for Xbox One sales. No exclusive title, short of a new "Grand Theft Auto," is going to compel any more people to rush out and by a new Xbox One. So why not open those franchises to the widest audiences possible and see what happens?