FFD: How important are third party exclusives?

2 min read


The usual selling point for consoles is the fact that each platform holder has a handful of first party games that are, and likely will forever be exclusive to those platforms. Sony has its Uncharted, God of War, Killzone et al, with Microsoft boasting Forza, Gears of War and Halo. They’re the sort of games that can get people to buy consoles. It seems that the third party exclusive is back on the rise.

It’s nothing new. In the 8-bit era, Nintendo was king of the 3rd party exclusives. They had fierce contracts that kept developers tethered to their hardware for years – making things difficult for SEGA’s Master System and Atari’s 7200. Developers stuck with Nintendo though, because they wanted access to the system’s millions of users.

When SEGA kicked off their 16 bit Genesis with much more favourable terms, the 3rd party market shifted considerably, and both their and Nintendo’s 16 bit machines were home to 3rd party exclusives and pseudo exclusives; the SNES got Street Fighter 2 Turbo, the Genesis got Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition.

The next few gens also had a strong 3rd party exclusive market; and PlayStation was home to most of them; Metal Gear, Tekken, Tomb Raider. Microsoft’s Xbox got things like Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire.

In the last generation it shifted again, and most publishers stuck to playing it safe and releasing their games on both the 360 and the PS3: Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield,Elder Scrolls, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy etc all made their way to both systems.

This generation though, we may be looking at a new rise in third party exclusives as backroom deals make way for console exclusive third party games. Rise of the Tomb Raider is increasingly looking like it’ll only be on the Xbox One, and Street Fighter V is almost certainly bound to PlayStation.

If this continues it’s possible that your very favourite games might be locked to a single system. How important are 3rd part exclusives? Would they make you purchase a system for a single game or series of games? I know that if Street Fighter wasn’t headed to PC, and I didn’t have a PlayStation, I’d have to  get one.

Are there any games that if they became a third party exclusive would make you consider a new console – or do you think this sort of locking out by platform doesn’t really help anyone (except enrich developers at the cost of gamers)?

Last Updated: December 12, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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