Versus! Console Exclusives

Following the recent Bayonetta 2 fan rage, Bradly and Pierre debate whether console exclusives have any place in today’s world of gaming.

By Bradly Halestorm. Posted 11/23/2012 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Games for You and Games for Us!

By Pierre Bienaime

What’s a console without exclusives? More than hardware, controllers, and operating systems, what defines a gaming system– what makes it so hard to pick a favorite– is its stable of mascots and first-party experiences.

And how does the argument against exclusives even go? Single-console-bound games shouldn’t exist? Or be played? The gaming landscape would be all the poorer for it. We as game players would lose. No one would win.

Unless, ah yes, you mean that exclus-ivity shouldn’t exist. I see. You dare dream of the Ur-console. I did so too, as a young boy. A machine that has it all: cartridge slots, CD drives big and small, sundry ports and jacks… A weird contraption that devours all formats, please and thank you. An electronic behemoth, the silhouette of which, so shapeful that it is shapeless, would stump anyone seeking to calculate the thing’s terrible volume.

The thing is, it’s only as a child that I could have expected one of these things. To me back then, logistics and corporate entities weren’t part of the equation. One machine that could do it all just made joy-bringing sense for me as a hungry little consumer.

But corporate entities are real, and we don’t have to see them as getting in the way. Within them, developers and designers are artists. Ideally, a console is created with as much love for itself as love for the cash that sales will generate. And naturally, these designers have very different visions of what they think deserves a place in your living room. The companies and brands they work for only have so many man-hours to make the system that they think rocks.

Bringing every game to every console (or making the Ur-console a reality) would only stifle the creative process. Corporate entities are also identities. Having to get down on hands and knees to switch out RCA connectors makes us recognize that. So do the introductory jingles that unfold when we power our consoles up. Without all that, would websites like Nintendojo be possible? Sure. We could still be writing/reading/nerding out about that group of games designed by the company (and its subsidiaries) instead of its next console.

That next console, though, will be doing things others just can’t, bringing in Wii’s motion control remotes and adding a GamePad to the mix. Wii U games will be much more than gaming experiences that happen to live on Wii U. They’ll call it home. They’ll be defined by that exclusivity.

As for Bayonetta 2… well, I never played the first one (beat ’em ups don’t sit well with me). Still, I was glad to hear the news that it would be exclusive to Wii U, for a few reasons. First is that it marks a shift towards more mature content for the company. Developers are making the jump. Second is that hopefully consumers will take notice of that shift, and see the system for its broad appeal rather than just a house of Mario. If Bayonetta 2 is a carrot for Nintendo to keep thriving, I’m all the happier.

Back to the fabled Ur-console. Even if you told me you could solder the thing together, I don’t know if I’d buy into it. It’s not that I can’t stand seeing Mario and Master Chief doing what they do on the same game system. It’s that I want to flash my Nintendo pride a bit sometimes, and that pride is defined in part by the keeping out other games and fictions. It’s a little chauvinistic, really. But only a little bit.

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