Nobody likes to wait.
People cough up money without thinking twice to get an item shipped overnight. In our world, it’s “I want it now,” rather than “I’ll just wait.” With the choice between now or later, many will put out a pretty penny to have it this moment, instead of running the risk of missing out or not being the first.
Console exclusive games are hardly foreign – Sony and Microsoft obviously have their first party studios that produce their own games to persuade you to buy their system. But timed exclusivity is a whole other demon that gamers must deal with when deciding where to put the few dollars we sometimes find ourselves with. A game arrives first on one console, weeks or months before it makes its way to other systems (looking at you, Lara Croft). But most recently, it’s moved beyond just games. Downloadable content, expansions, and whole portions of gameplay have become available on a single system for an extended period of time before they arrive on another.
If you get bothered by seeing a title arrive on one particular console first, you may not like where this is going. Timed exclusive games and DLC are only going to get bigger as this generation continues. AAA games continue to become more expensive to produce, and we are seeing fewer and fewer of them being released successfully. Sony and Microsoft must do everything in their power to differentiate themselves from another to get you to buy their system and this has overflowed into the third party sector. First party titles are no longer enough to differentiate between the two boxes, so a multitude of deals with third party companies has created an industry full of exclusive missions, downloadable content, and “ultimate experiences” you can only get on one console.
While Lara Croft may currently be leading the charge of timed exclusive games, she’s not the only culprit. Destiny had a slew of content that was part of PlayStation’s “Play it First” campaign. On their systems, exclusive content was marketed that would be available only on PlayStation through fall of 2015. In a title like Destiny, getting content first could make a huge difference in how you play and succeed throughout the game. Activision wins because they get the extra marketing. Sony wins because more (but not all) players will gravitate towards buying Destiny on the PS4. The only loser in this scenario are the gamers who are left missing out on this content for up to a whole year.
More recently, DLC for last year’s Dragon Age: Inquisition launched first on Xbox and PC, a whole two months before coming to Sony platforms. When content such as this finally does release on other platforms, it fails to have the significant splash or appeal that it did when originally released.
Looking back, this increased amount of timed exclusive content and games became written in the stars for this generation when Microsoft took back their original vision for the Xbox One, removed the Kinect, and met Sony’s price level. Since that day, the PS4 and Xbox One have lost most of the things that make the systems different and have been relatively the same boxes of hardware that play a great amount of the same games. To get you to pick a side, each company now must fight feverishly to differentiate themselves from each other, and as of right now, the thing that Microsoft and Sony are battling the most over, is time.