In Defense of PlayStation: PS5 Exclusive Content Is a Good Thing
Despite a building narrative, PlayStation exclusive content is far from anti-consumer; and it might sell me on jumping to PS5 first.
Ever since it was revealed that Spider-Man would be exclusive to the PlayStation version of Marvel’s Avengers, the general gaming audience has heard a lot of hemming and hawing from gaming journos and personalities that we should be throwing shade at Sony and PS5 exclusive content. But… why? As a primarily Xbox gamer, I want to make the case that PlayStation exclusives are far from anti-consumer — and I wish that Microsoft was doing the same thing for us.
The Argument: Is Third-Party Exclusive Content Anti-Consumer?
In case you’ve been living under a rock this week, large parts of the gaming community were shaken with the announcement that Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers would have Spider-Man as PS4 and PS5 exclusive content. What followed was a confirmation that there would be no other console-exclusive characters (sorry Stadia, PC and Xbox), alongside some petitions and ‘boycotts’ from some in the Xbox community.
Boiling down the collective rage, the argument is that PlayStation is looking to create an actively worse gaming environment across all other ecosystems. With Spider-Man being the most popular Marvel superhero, there is little doubt that developer Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal were intending on putting him into Marvel’s Avengers. Instead, (according to critics) Sony had robbed an experience from the broader gaming community.
I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t a split on our team about this issue as well — hell, DualShockers’ Logan Moore and Mario Rivera had a 20-minute conversation on why Spider-Man exclusivity is bad to the gaming scene at large. You can catch that whole video here:
They hit a few points — that the move is allegedly anti-consumer, creating artificially locked barriers to content in Marvel’s Avengers. In that argument, they (along with many others on the internet) state that this is content that wasn’t added because of PlayStation’s work, but likely removed from the total product. The end result leaves broader gamers across Google and Xbox systems (as well as PC) in a worse state.
I disagree with that message. And hell, it may be a generally unpopular opinion among the ‘professional gaming’ sites that seek to be unbiased.
Fact Check: PS5 Exclusive Content Is Pro-Consumer
Let me start off with a click disclaimer: Despite the fact that I write for DualShockers, I’m far from a Sony fanboy — I play my Xbox One X daily, and it’s my primary console towards the end of this generation. Hell, I’ve even had some fairly public spats with the Sony and PlayStation brand on DualShockers. Even coming from my Xbox perspective, I’m glad that PlayStation is fighting for their consumers.
When push comes to shove, the PlayStation brand should have one focus: making sure that their consumers, fans, and audience have the best place to play. Whether you are playing the games on PS4 or PS5, there is no doubt that Sony is building value to your console purchase and investment in their ecosystem. Why should they have to cater to the gaming audience at large?
When I buy a gaming console, it isn’t just a purchase into a plastic box that will serve games to my TV — it is a vote of confidence in a broader ecosystem and the community at large. When I started this generation with my PS4, it was because Sony had expertly crafted a narrative that their system would be the best place to play games, instead of being an all-around media device.
Since then, Xbox has done a great job smoothing over their early PR nightmares (thanks to the stewardship of Phil Spencer). In my opinion, through services like Xbox Game Pass and Backward Compatibility they have been making all the right moves. But with the next generation in sight, people have to make up their mind on which console they will buy first. Has Xbox made a strong enough case to the gamer audience at large?
Exclusivity Is a Way To Add Value
Time and time again we see that PlayStation has been willing to make their audience the primary beneficiary of their success. Instead of sitting on their wealth and success this generation, reports show that they are using their cash advantage to shore up more third party exclusive games and content. According to reports:
There isn’t a major third party out there Sony failed to approach asking what kind of deals they could work out. Some had content, some had games, some had content and games. It is not like Microsoft was not willing to offer, they just didn’t want to pay the asking price, because Sony approached with pretty high numbers in the first place.
And while we don’t know definitively how true or far-spread these reports are, it instantly gives me some hesitation as a primarily Xbox consumer — as it should. Why isn’t Microsoft fighting tooth and nail for these same deals? And why should I investing heavily in the Xbox ecosystem next generation when I will get more bang-for-my-buck on PS5?
Those are some real questions that I — and the Xbox community at large — will have to reckon with, during the lead up to Holiday 2020. Can Xbox Series X offer up enough in terms of high-end performance, services, accessibility, and exclusive titles to offer a better experience than PlayStation? We will know soon.
There is still a lot to learn about the PS5 and Xbox Series X, with performance face-offs, price comparisons, and release dates coming in the future. Without a doubt, any gamer will enjoy their time on either system. However, I’m glad that PlayStation is standing up for consumers in their ecosystem and publicly demonstrating why its the best place to play. Hopefully, Xbox can start pointing to a similar message soon.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are set to launch in Holiday 2020, though their specific price and release date are unknown. Keep an eye on DualShockers for more information as it becomes available.