In the Background of Video Games' Exclusive Deals, There's More Than Meets The Eye

Illustration for article titled In the Background of Video Games Exclusive Deals, Theres More Than Meets The Eye

They are the heroes of our childhoods. The glory of their times. Their video game comes out later this month. For the entirety of the current console generation, just one mega-publisher has solely controlled the exclusive right to immortalize their triumphs. It's a deal that has reaped gobs of cash, and the latest edition of that money grab hits shelves later this month.

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Even after the years of disappointments, the gameplay gimmicks and vaporized promises, the listless Metacritic scores and consumer indifference, there's no reason to think we'll ever see a true competitor pushing it to be better.

Really, why should these guys try hard? You think that studio's getting any money from the publisher? Not when we've seen how emotion and nostalgia are enough to separate overgrown teenagers from $60 of their money every year, even if it's for basically the same game with an updated roster of players.

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Now, some people might tell us that this kind of an exclusive license isn't really a "monopoly," even if the customer has no alternative. Some might call this a private deal, between private businesses. But we really know it's only because one company owned something really valuable and another company had the money to pay for it.

Is that really what a free market is all about? Aren't we talking about something larger? Legends? Legacies? A cultural mythology? Aren't we talking about a public trust here, really?

This is simply un-American. What about our right to competition? Will we ever see a real challenger to this series? Something that forces it to innovate? To listen to customers who are entitled to something better? What can we do, start a petition? Sue someone?

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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron releases on Tuesday.

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DISCUSSION

I believe the NFL is considered a psudo-public company due to some of the team stadiums using public money. Therefore they cannot offer exclusive contracts behind close doors like a regular company. This is probably far more complicated, but I think the idea is simple EA didn't want to compete w/ 2K, and they bullied them out.

Now exclusive contracts in games isn't a bad thing. For example THQ holds the rights to the Warhammer 40k series, and puts out really good games w/ this license. Now Namco Bandai bought the rights to use Warhammer FB, and released a few lower quality games, and EA released an MMO. This caused a bit of confusion with some consumers who felt the Warhammer 40k series quality had dropped because of the WFB games even though they are different licenses. Now could you imagine if just any developer could buy an extrenal license to produce crap? Movie tie-in games tend to be bad enough though one could argue if the license was let in mass then odds are one of the games would have to be good right?