Rethinking Console Exclusives

Posted: September 16, 2013 in Current Gaming
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I’ve already told you that I’m a Nintendo fan. I can’t help it. I do come by it honestly, having grown up with the NES, Super NES, etc… Therefore, even though I do own other consoles, I also root for Nintendo just as I would a sports team. A console exclusive is a victory, a shutout in a game of baseball. It’s the icing on the console cake. For a long time, I loved seeing Nintendo get these b/c it was a win for them, another reason why people should try a console by a company I love.

With the WiiU, I’m beginning to rethink this stance. Now, to be clear, I’m not speaking of first party games. They will obviously be exclusive. Mario, Zelda, and Samus aren’t appearing on the PS4 or Xbox One any sooner than Master Chief will have an outing on the PSVita or Ratchet & Clank on the WiiU. No, I’m speaking strictly of third party games. A game like Dead Rising 3 being exclusive to the Xbox One isn’t a big deal to me b/c that is an established brand. It’s going to be fine, if only b/c of name value. And that is the case many times. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles moved over a million copies on the Wii b/c it is a known entity with an existing fanbase (and a pretty fun game, frankly).

I become concerned when I see a game like The Wonderful 101 being released exclusively for the WiiU. At one point in time, this would have thrilled me (it’s a win!), but I’ve come to reconsider this stance. Released in Japan recently, it moved only a few thousand copies in week one, disappointing by just about any measure. It’s not hard to see why it moved so few. A new IP on a struggling console? Not too unexpected, even if it is a fun game (reviews have been fairly positive so far, as has the Twitter feedback I’ve seen).

Making things worse for this game is that TW101 will never be ported b/c Nintendo is handling the publishing duties. It only goes somewhere else if they decide to send it there. I’m willing to bet that Nintendo won’t send it to Sony or Microsoft just for kicks.

The thing is, I wish it could be ported. This is a game that was crafted by a studio with a great deal of love and dedication, and now it could potentially die a slow death simply b/c of the console it has been tied to. This makes me extremely sad. I want as many people as possible to experience this game, and that’s not going to happen. Now, obviously, maybe Nintendo turns around the WiiU, the price on TW101 is dropped and it ends up experiencing a long sales curve and finds success. I never count out Nintendo, but I don’t think this is extremely likely to happen.

TW101 is only the most recent example. Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower are all well reviewed games, made exclusively for the Wii, but released very late in it’s life when WiiU hype (lol!) was taking over. Xenoblade has become something of a collector’s item in NA due to Gamestop controlling distribution. A copy can be had for around $80 now. The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower haven’t seen that fate just yet, but all three of these are good games that some people will never play b/c of the console they are available on and the timing of their release. The backwards compatibility of the WiiU doesn’t seem to be a factor in helping them either, at least, not yet.

I realize this isn’t exclusive to Nintendo, I just happen to know their recent library very well. I’m also not naive enough to think this will change anytime soon, and I completely understand why it wouldn’t. This is a business and success is key. Giving the consumer something your competitors can’t makes your product that much more appealing. I just hope that games like TW101 do eventually find an audience and succeed where it matters most to the businessmen that run Nintendo. Not b/c I want the success for Nintendo, but for the developers that gave so much of their time and effort to crafting a game that too few people may ever play. I’ve evolved from someone that supports a system or a company to someone that supports good games, no matter what medium they are on.


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