PC vs Console: Why PC Exclusives Are Good, and Console Exclusives Are Bad
The PC vs Console debate is a very interesting one for me.
I understand why some would deem it childish, but there’s a conversation to be had that goes beyond people shouting their frame rates at each other. A particularly interesting topic within this framework is the matter of platform exclusives. Hailed by some as the number one reason to buy a platform, demonized by others for being the number one reason to AVOID buying a platform, I want to approach this topic through the lens of a dastardly PC elitist.
I say: PC exclusives can exist for good reasons, console exclusives always exist for bad ones.
What good reasons could a PC developer have to restrict their game to the PC? There are a lot of them. Their game might only be properly playable with mouse and keyboard, making a console port unfeasible. They may want to achieve a game of epic scope that is not restricted by console limitations; Skyrim, Witcher 3 and Fallout: New Vegas immediately come to mind when talking about games that were held back by their console versions.
Or, chances are, the developer sees no market for their game on consoles, as console gamer tastes (no insult intended) are much narrower than PC gamer tastes; on consoles, due to the nature of their input devices, action titles reign supreme.
Of course, developers can benefit from console releases financially, and the production of certain titles may even be impossible without porting one’s game to consoles, but from a creative and technical perspective there is no question that PC gamers will always be the ones suffering from a dev going multiplatform; therefore, there are good reasons for the consumer for PC exclusives to exist.
Console exclusives are a completely different beast; they exist to drum up artificial demand for hardware that could otherwise not stand on its own two feet.
Modern consoles, contrary to their ancestors, are feature-restricted, upgrade-restricted, proprietary PCs. Pre-made as well as customized PCs can easily be used as couch-playing devices. The only reason modern consoles exist as a business model is to lock gamers into an eco-system that allows the platform owner to charge them extra for services that are free on the PC and to be able to sell games at inflated prices. To achieve that, gamers have to be lured into playing on their hardware; that’s where exclusives come in.
Apart from Nintendo consoles that often feature unique input devices, there are no technical reasons to restrict console exclusives to their respective platforms.
There is no gameplay reason.
There is no scope reason.
There is no reason other than to remove their software from the open marketplace and its inherent pressures, in order to sell their hardware which in turn works as physical DRM and as a consumer lock-in device after the moment of purchase.
Summarized, there are creative and technical reasons why a PC developer might opt for PC exclusivity, which ultimately results in better games. Console exclusives, on the other hand, are not designed to be beneficial to the consumer; they are designed to benefit the console manufacturer, and no one else.
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