3rd Party Exclusives: The Declining Relevancy of Gaming Consoles

While perusing the internet, fiddling around on YouTube earlier this morning, this video showed up in my feed and it got me thinking. It mostly focuses on the decline on 3rd party exclusives and increasing dependency on 1st party exclusives:

Here is the article about the game discussed in the video: “Rayman Legends jumps to pc.”

It’s weird, seeing how the gaming market has changed so much over the years. Video game consoles were at one time very distinct from, well, practically all other hardware. Obviously it was because of their intense focus on gaming, a relatively new medium.

What is even more interesting is seeing their transition from primarily gaming platforms, to “entertainment” platforms, and now “all-in-one” multimedia devices.

Despite all of the extra features and knick-knacks being added on to the systems with every generation, the consoles still had (and more or less advertised themselves as such) a singular focus on gaming. Of course, adding on extra features is fine, but at what point does it become redundant?

We’re playing with a bunch of different little black boxes that are all doing mostly the same thing.

Hell, even the laptop I’m typing this on is a little black box of its own. Then there’s my phone, my projector (for movie nights), my old PS2, my old PSP, my smart TV, etc., etc. When you think about it, it’s almost as if we’re surrounding ourselves with little H.A.L.s in the form of cameras, phones, and Kinects (yes, I brought that up, because I think it’s funny and creepy all at the same time).

Jim Sterling via the Jimquisition has had more than a few videos talking about this, and I agree with him 100%.

Even considering the game discussed in the video and article provided above, as an example, I already have the “smaller” version of that game(s) on the little black box I call my phone: Rayman Jungle Run. I’ve played and beaten it more time than I can count, and I still play it regularly, and do not have a lot of motivation to buy more of the same.

Rayman Jungle Run

Rayman running for his life. Pretty much the entire point of the game.

Then again, they’re not all little black boxes. I had a Wii, once. Nintendo continues to pursue the “Apple of videogames” feel, which is fine. The Wii-U has also been warming up lately, with Pikmin 3 released and a new Super Smash Bros. on the horizon.

It’s just strange that the consoles would seemingly want to eschew the one attribute that made them distinct and relevant, that of course being exclusive, accessible, high quality video games.

One interesting find can be found in this article from IGN earlier this year in an interview with Ryan McCaffrey, Executive Editor of IGN Xbox:

Divider - Design - 45%

These days, it’s all about the services. You play Xbox because your friends do their gaming on Xbox Live. You play Xbox because it does Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video, and a bunch of other neat stuff you never thought about back in 2005.

They’ll matter early — when the early adopters are deciding which console to buy. But once the next Xbox and PlayStation 4 get entrenched, we’re likely to see very few exclusives, especially with both systems reportedly having such eerily similar technical specifications.

It just won’t make financial sense for a publisher to release a game for one console and not the other.

Divider - Design - 45%

Well, then what’s the point? Though a somewhat rhetorical question, I find myself asking that a lot about video games in general these days.

The eighth generation hasn’t even come full force yet (I know, there’s the Wii-U, but that didn’t exactly set the world on fire upon its release) and already they’re morphing together with all the other little black boxes of entertainment.

I’m curious as to where this will all go.

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