Just a few short days ago Capcom accidentally released trailers and later officially announced Street Fighter V exclusively for PS4 and PC. This may have come as a surprise to some, but it’s been hinted that there would be a new iteration of Street Fighter for the next generations of consoles for a few months. The real shocker is that the next incarnation of Street Fighter will be exclusive to the PS4 and PC (with cross-play), which is a change from the status quo. Instead of releasing the new SFV on all platforms, Capcom has struck a deal with Sony to keep things exclusive and disenfranchise their fan-base.
If I could give one word to describe the state of the current console war, it would be exclusivity. To me, that is a dirty word which only serves to hurt the gaming ecosystem. Sure platformers such as Halo, Mario, and Little Big Planet are exclusive to their home console, but they were specifically owned and developed by the parent companies of their respected consoles. “Exclusive” titles are developed by third parties and then locked into deals with first parties (consoles) to bring their games or content only to their hardware. These deals are made for various reasons like attracting new gamers (or tapping into a player-base) to their platform or (more often then you’d think) because the third party company is in financial trouble and need guaranteed incentives. I believe that Capcom falls into the latter.
Capcom’s most recent financial report revealed a drop in revenue by 51.3 percent compared to the same period last year and also recently voted to no longer fight against outside interests from buying controlling interest in their company (source). I believe that these financial woes are what are leading Capcom to seek exclusive deals like with Dead Rising 3 and Street Fighter V. By developing the content exclusively for the first party, Capcom is able secure guaranteed funds to continue to operate or develop other titles. These are sound business practices, but may end up hurting the community that supports Capcom.
Street Fighter IV is one of the best fighting games ever made and completely revitalized the dying genre. It was released in 2009 on Xbox 360, PS3, and in arcades (2008) and enabled more people then ever to fight each other thanks to Xbox Live and PSN. Not only that, but since this was the first major fighting game to be released on the current gen consoles of the time in an era of amazing communication, the fighting game community was able to grow and share information exponentially. Popularity grew and spawned many updated versions and additional releases to new platforms like PC, iOS, and now PS4. But it was the availability across many platforms that enabled the game to not only succeed, but completely revitalize a dying genre and pave the way for more fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, Killer Instinct, Skullgirls, and more.
However, the more recent trend has been to make games exclusive to a single platform. BlazBlue was one of the first to make this change and switch from an every platform to just Playstation in their most recent release. Guilty Gear also followed suit with their new release Guilty Gear Xrd. Now Capcom has struck a deal with Sony to bring Street Fighter V only to PS4 and PC.
While the companies behind these great games may be getting some really nice incentives to bring these games to consoles exclusively, they are leaving a large portion of their player-base with a hefty bill to continue to support them. For hardcore gamers or tournament goers, they need to invest several hundred dollars in new hardware, equipment, and a subscription to play the game they love. For some, that isn’t an option. On top of having to buy a PS4 ($400) and PS Plus ($50 annually), they also need to invest in new arcade sticks which can range from $100 to $200 or mod their current arcade sticks to work with the PS4. Wanting play your favorite games just became a lot more expensive thanks to exclusivity.
More than money or investments though, these exclusive deals hurt our gamers ability to choose the most. If you wanted to play Xbox, or have an Xbox Live subscription or friends, or just like the Xbox Live network better, you no longer are able to choose to play a genre that you used to be able to on the system you like. If you have a Playstation with a PS Plus membership and wanted to play the new Tomb Raider because you love the series, you no longer have the choice to choose the system you like.
This war of exclusivity needs to stop.