A reader argues that exclusives are not as important to the success of the PS5, or Xbox, as many people think.
Like many I thought Horizon Forbidden West had already been confirmed to not be coming out this year so it wasn’t any kind of an upset to hear it officially confirmed during Gamescom. This immediately had a lot of people saying that this benefited Microsoft because they had Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 coming out this Christmas and Sony had nothing exclusive. But I’m pretty sure that’s not how these things work.
Someone also mentioned that Xbox was already on a roll because of Microsoft Flight Simulator and Psychonauts 2 that came out recently and yet neither of these games even cracked the top 10 of the UK sales charts. Now, obviously that’s because of Game Pass where you get to play them for ‘free’ but to not have their release even register tells you just how irrelevant they are to mainstream gamers.
I don’t mean this to be some massive anti-Xbox rant (I don’t like how they try to win by outspending other companies but other than that I have no issue with them) but more about what actually matters to ordinary casual gamers and, by association, publishers. For most ordinary gamers video games are a very narrow concept, they are FIFA, Call Of Duty, GTA, and whatever free games are currently popular – like Fortnite and Warzone.
For causal gamers being adventurous means playing Assassin’s Creed or Battlefield, not Dark Souls or an indie game. Psychonauts 2 just doesn’t exist to anyone but hardcore gamers and it isn’t much different for PlayStation exclusives. The Last Of Us Part 2 has been the most high profile of recent years and how much did it sell at launch? 4 million copies. That’s it. It’s not a flop but it is completely unnoteworthy.
Sony has never bothered to update the sales figures but judging by God Of War, which had a similar launch, it was probably around 10 million total. That’s a bit better than NieR:Automata, at over 6 million, but less than New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, on around 11 million, on the Switch. A port of a Wii U game that nobody ever seems to have liked but nevertheless sold more than almost all recent Xbox and PlayStation exclusives.
My point is that exclusives are not the reason that people buy an Xbox or PlayStation, or at least not directly. Exclusives definitely help Sony create good word of mouth for their console, with their positives reviews and quality graphics making the PlayStation look like a classy choice but only a small percentage of people ever play them. The PlayStation 4 has sold over 115 million consoles in its life time and that means less than 10% of PlayStation 4 owners bought the highest profile and most critically acclaimed game on the format.
Casual gamers like prestige games like The Last Of Us Part 2 to exist because it makes their console sound good but surprisingly few of them are interested in actually playing it.
The only games that will matter for most people this Christmas are FIFA 22, Call Of Duty: Vanguard, GTA 5 on the next gen, and maybe, if they’re feeling adventurous Battlefield 2042 and Far Cry 5. And all those games are on both formats. Given the PlayStation 5 has been outselling the Xbox by 2:1 for the last year there is absolutely no reason to think that will change either because the PlayStation 5 doesn’t have any exclusives or because the Xbox does.
By reader Pinky
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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