If you look back into the annals of video game history, you will undoubtedly notice that the first 15-20 years were essentially dominated by two companies: first Atari, and then Nintendo, with a few smaller companies struggling (and ultimately failing) to keep pace along the way. But towards the end of the 1980’s one of those smaller companies, Sega of America, hired a new CEO and decided to completely flip the industry script and take on Nintendo’s borderline monopoly in a David vs. Goliath showdown for the ages. The rest, as we all know, is history, and gamers have had the privilege of choosing between multiple console brands for going on 25 years now.
In that time, the term “exclusivity” has become a mainstay in the vocabulary of basically all but the newest of noobs. And while there is variation in the specific definition assigned to it, for the purpose of this article I will characterize exclusivity as a game or series of games that is available to play exclusively on one system, and one system only. The developers themselves needn’t be affiliated with the console brand in order to meet my criteria, although they can be (think Nintendo and Mario for your most classic example), as third party developers have been releasing exclusive titles for many years. So that’s our working definition. Everyone clear?
Examples of exclusive games are relatively easy to name, especially if we are willing to go back to the beginning. When the war for supremacy was being waged primarily with Nintendo and Sega, the soldiers in the battles were none other than games like Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Long Country, and Killer Instinct (along with all of their respective sequels), and so on for Nintendo, while Sega had Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star, and Streets of Rage on their front lines. Later, as the industry shifted and new console brands like Sony and Microsoft began hitting shelves, so too did the exclusives along with them (Sony had Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, and Resident Evil on its PlayStation, while Microsoft’s original Xbox hooked gamers with titles like Halo: Combat Evolved and Fable, among others).
All of this continued until somewhat recently, when the concept of exclusivity within the console market, for reasons unable to be discussed in this post, began to recede into the digital cloud. And regardless of whether the trend continues as it has or returns to the form of years past, this is the perfect venue to provide some reasons why exclusivity is still relevant, and why it should continue to exist for all of us console gamers out there. So without further adieu, I present to you my top five reasons why console exclusivity is still important!