This year, all three major gaming companies (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) will be releasing exclusive games in an effort to encourage people to play games on their platforms. The PS4’s biggest exclusives include Detroit: Become Human and Marvel’s Spider-Man, Nintendo will release Super Smash Bros. on Switch, and Xbox One will be the only console with State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3. These are some major titles with a lot of publisher support behind them, but do exclusives even matter?
Maybe not, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. In a new interview, the analyst explains that while companies used to use exclusives as a way to stand out next to their competitors, “These things are so well established by now, though, that I don’t think you need tremendous first party support anymore.” He adds that, “I’m not even sure first party support is why most people buy PlayStation consoles,” pointing to the console’s mix of first and third-party content, such as the timed exclusive Call of Duty DLC, as a “major driver” instead.
Based on this assessment of the market, Pachter also suggests that Microsoft is “fine.” Microsoft has been heavily criticized recently for the lack of Xbox One exclusives; criticisms which only grew louder after the company canceled Scalebound. Pachter suggests that Microsoft’s first-party games are not poor quality but its games appeal to “smaller addressable markets” and don’t have “the broad appeal that a Sony or Nintendo game has.”
Pachter’s analysis will divide many who feel that console exclusives are important when it comes to showing off what a console can do. Exclusive games, made by a first-party studio, are often a strong way to showcase a console’s features and its power. Moreover, when comparing two consoles of a similar price, the crop of exclusive games is going to be a major factor that sways a person.
The Nintendo Switch could also be an example against Pachter’s comments. The Switch isn’t any more powerful than the PS4 or the Xbox One, nor is it substantially cheaper, but the strength of exclusive games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey has helped the console become such a huge success. This isn’t to say that exclusivity deals don’t also help a console’s sales (Sony’s FIFA and Destiny partnerships will have also made a difference), but few would agree that strong first-party support isn’t needed.