It is time for console exclusivity to go away entirely

Console exclusivity is a thing of the past and as demands for returns grow, it's time for it to go away entirely.
Game Maker Square Enix's Holds Event At E3 Conference
Game Maker Square Enix's Holds Event At E3 Conference / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Appeasing the bottom line will cause corporations to take on directional shifts like none other. One is happening in the gaming industry, as organizations look to secure as much revenue and profits as possible. That shift is the eventual end of console exclusivity as we know it. This is a positive step for gamers and one that should have occurred long ago.

There was a time when console exclusivity made perfect sense. Sega had Sonic the Hedgehog and several other exclusives. Nintendo had the Super Mario series. PlayStation joined the fray and had its own exclusives as well. But that was decades ago. The industry has changed, as has the demands on publishers and developers. As those demands change, the need for console exclusivity begins to shift as well. The age that gamers once knew is slowly coming to an end.

Look at what has happened in recent months. Hi-Fi Rush, a critically acclaimed game that caught the industry by surprise as an exclusive for Xbox in 2023, has now made its way to PlayStation. Sea of Thieves is another major Xbox game that has made the jump. Many are paying close attention to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, an upcoming major release and sequel to a major multiplatform game. There are thoughts that the game is going to eventually pop up on PlayStation as well. And it’s not a one-way street. Popular PlayStation games like Helldivers 2, Returnal, The Last of Us, and others are showing up on PC. More titles are expected to make that same debut in the coming months.

Everyone knows Square Enix. There were cheers of joy when it was announced that a popular publisher will move to end its exclusivity on PlayStation. That comes after two major games in Final Fantasy 16 and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth did not meet sales expectations locked to one console.

This is a win for gamers. Actually, not only the gamers, but the people that work in the developers and publishers continue to face mounting layoffs. These organizations cut jobs because of dwindling financial success. Well, opening the doors to feature games on several platforms creates more opportunity for stronger performance. Hopefully, this is a boost in performance that leads to fewer job cuts. But that is contingent upon these organizations putting the workers first and that’s a big ask for an industry driven by capitalism.

Now, this does bring up a question about games like Gears 6 or the next God of War. Will those show up on multiple systems on release day? Absolutely not. But there's a world to live in where they are rolled out on other systems in a delayed approach. Is this a possibility that Xbox and Sony are willing to discuss? In the words of Jerry Maguire, "Show me the money!"

There was a time when console exclusivity made sense. Those games were used to draw in players and kick off the console wars, for better or for worse. In 2024 and beyond, the industry is in a different place. Many players want the ease of accessing their games wherever they want to play. Limiting them to one access point is a problem that has hit the industry in a way leadership didn’t expect. The winds of change have hit gaming in a necessary way. Here’s to hoping that it plays out well for everyone involved and isn’t another example of the rich getting richer.