Tomb Raider's Exclusivity Deal Is Bad For Everyone Not Involved - o_JMan240_o Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Tomb Raider's Exclusivity Deal Is Bad For Everyone Not Involved

"Rise of the Tomb Raider's" availability was easily the biggest news coming out of Gamescom. There's little doubt Square Enix's surprise exclusivity deal is lucrative for the company, after all it makes little sense for them to limit their sales to the current-generation platform with the lowest install base if they aren't compensated for it. It also sets a terrible precedent at the start of a new generation. "Rise of the Tomb Raider's" exclusivity is just one more move in an evolving console war between Microsoft and Sony, but the tactics involved are becoming consistently worse for fans.

In a fledgling digital marketplace it was rare for even large games to get multiple DLC packs, and console or pre-order exclusive content didn't exist. The start of the last generation was very much a battle of first party games, peripherals and features. Microsoft lost the format wars as HD DVD died a quick death, Sony lost the motion control competition as even the pedestrian performance of the original Kinect crushed the pathetic offerings of the Move controller. As prices and features became more set in stone, however, Microsoft's Summer of Arcade quietly began a one-sided war over the indie market - one Sony wouldn't begin earnestly participating in for several years - and moved the fight over games from first-party to third-party.

The back and forth between Microsoft and Sony during the last generation arguably hit its peak as the manufactures took sides in the open feud between first-person shooter giants "Call of Duty" and "Battlefield." The two companies had been trading back and forth on occasion, but involvement in other companies' fights really seemed to cause the battle for exclusives to explode. Most big releases have content exclusive to one side or another now, as opposed to just a handful of select titles. Sony also made a big play for the indie market as Microsoft's policies towards the growing space became outdated.

The exclusivity size-measuring contest has, predictably, bled over into the new generation. Microsoft's play for "Rise of the Tomb Raider" exclusivity isn't their first either, it's just the only successful example focused at a previously multi-platform series. There was a time when "Titanfall" was multi-platform, but muddled messaging and its status as a new IP reduced the rumblings of dissatisfaction to muted murmuring when it became an exclusive. Square Enix and "Rise of the Tomb Raider" have no such excuse, and their business decision has given the very real impression of abandonment - leaving fans of the series justifiably upset. As much as I was looking forward to the game, though, I have a huge issue with the precedent it sets for concept of exclusivity.

There are situations where exclusivity makes sense, most specifically in the realm of first party development. Although the concept of exclusive games is harmful to consumers who have access to just one platform, it's unreasonable to expect Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo to pay royalties to their competition for something they made. Microsoft's newly adopted approach to exclusive games is a whole different story though, and potentially far more damaging.

With their new approach the precedent is set for blockbuster games to sell to the highest bidder; pe-order bonuses and exclusive DLC have already shown it's perfectly reasonable to expect the practice to proliferate as the generation continues. Microsoft isn't alone in buying exclusivity either. Although couched the premise of supporting indie games, and given a free PR boost by Microsoft's laughable launch exclusivity policy, Sony made big moves to make sure small-time darlings launch first on its consoles.

I currently play mostly on PC, and even though this fight is taking place on different platforms it still hurts me - mainly because Microsoft's terrible stumbling out of the gate likely means any similar future games will see a delay on my preferred platform as the Xbox brand scrambles to close an ever widening sales gap. When I do pick up a new console I still plan on getting a PS4 first, mainly because I've had a lot of issues with Microsoft involving my money. I don't want to play games in a world where Microsoft can snatch up launch exclusivity for "Final Fantasy XV" or "Kingdom Hearts III" with a liberal application of their massive pool of cash, because I'd prefer to play those games on Sony consoles.

I'm also sure Xbox One owners and fans don't want to play in a world where Sony ratchets up their efforts to lock down indie games like "No Man's Sky" as permanent exclusives. I hate to see such a scary precedent set for what seems likely to be a short-term gain for Microsoft - especially in the wake of Titanfall's inability to significantly close the gap between the two consoles. Contrary to what some people suggest, I know most gamers probably don't own both consoles so early in the generation. We all just want to play games, and having the people who make our console playing the the world's saddest game of single seat musical chairs with the things we love can never be a good thing.

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