There’s No Downside To A Game Ditching Exclusivity

Quantum Break will never arrive on PlayStation 4, but PC owners can play it the same day as Xbox One owners. This has caused anxiety among some Xbox fans, prompting Microsoft executive Phil Spencer to digitally spar with passionate Xbox One owners. It’s been fascinating to watch.

This started when a Twitter user blasted Spencer for today’s news:


Spencer was, unsurprisingly, a little taken aback.

Is this just a riff on the “console wars” argument we’ve seen play out on playgrounds and message boards since the beginning of time, in which people ascribe too much personal identity to brands, prompting them to take business decisions personally? Or is it part of an underlying frustration that Sony’s been kicking Microsoft’s butt for a while now, Quantum Break was supposed to be a way of feeling good about your purchase, and the PC release diminishes that?

A little from column A, a little from column B.

I can remember acting a bit like this guy, though. When I was younger, most of my friends owned a SNES, but one friend owned a Genesis. Most arcade ports were way better on the SNES, and we would lord that over him, loudly and constantly laughing at him for having the shittier console. But there was one exception: Mortal Kombat. Nintendo didn’t allow blood, but Sega did, and my friend reminded us of that all the time. It legitimately pissed me off.


(Thankfully, Mortal Kombat 2 on SNES had blood. Take that, Matt! Have fun with Eternal Champions or whatever.)

Exclusives are a funny business. We understand why they exist: to convince people one platform is a better purchase than the other. But they also suck, right? Not everyone can afford every console, so for many consumers, it means missing out on some awesome games. Who doesn’t want more awesome games?


We tend to view exclusives differently, depending on the context.

How many times have we heard Sony and Microsoft call a game a “console exclusive” because it’s also coming out on the PC at the same time? Goofy.


When Rise of the Tomb Raider briefly became an Xbox One exclusive, people flipped out because the last game had been released one every platform, and it seemed Microsoft was using a war chest to snatch a game for themselves. But we don’t know the context for that deal. Did Rise of the Tomb Raider become a better game because of Microsoft’s money? Maybe it didn’t make any difference.


We don’t know, though due to the budgets of games these days, it is a complex question. I’ve heard on more than on one occasion that exclusivity talks for some very big games happened because they might otherwise get cancelled, but that’s not something either company is going to brag about on stage at E3.

Spencer and Twitter Guy never really found common ground. Twitter Guy seemed to have a chip on his shoulder about PC owners in general, worried that Xbox One’s other exclusives will eventually come to the PC, as well, and that wasn’t fair because Xbox One owners had to pay for things like Xbox Live Gold.


(Quantum Break does not have multiplayer.)


Again, in a vacuum, exclusives suck. I feel bad Xbox One owners can’t play Bloodborne. I feel bad PS4 owners can’t play Quantum Break. In an ideal world, everyone gets to play everything! But we don’t live in that world, and lots of games wouldn’t exist unless companies spent tens of millions to convince us their platform is the better one. Bottom line? It’s never been better to own a PC!


You can reach the author of this post at or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.

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