Every time there is a first-party event, whether it’s Inside Xbox, Nintendo Direct, or PlayStation’s State of Play, we see a weird masked dance repeating over and over.
First parties announce multiplatform games for their platforms while carefully hiding any reference to competing consoles.
After that, third-parties come forth with their own trailers, announcements, and press releases, and those flimsy masks are shattered, revealing that indeed those games aren’t coming only for Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch.
It’s a proverbial “the emperor has no clothes” moment that has been repeating for years and that, in a third-party market in which exclusives become increasingly rare, feels more and more ridiculous.
Yesterday’s Inside Xbox livestream added another clumsy twirl to this petty dance with games like Scarlet Nexus and Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 revealed for additional platforms exactly 24 hours after the broadcast.
Honestly, I’m not holding my breath for anyone at Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft to actually consider this message and change the way they do things (but I’d be happy to be proven wrong). Yet, this is something that needs to be said.
Announcing games for your own platforms while hoping that people somehow won’t realize that they’re not exclusives, has gotten to the point of being silly. It’s as if the whole exclusivity messaging wasn’t muddled enough to begin with.
Gamers who watch this kind of first-party livestream aren’t stupid. They’re going to realize that the games are multiplatform just as soon as that is revealed, and having seen an original trailer with some logos omitted isn’t going to influence their purchasing decisions in the least.
As a matter of fact, core fans of a platform hoping for an exclusive, often end up being annoyed when they realize that such hope was misplaced to begin with.
Even assuming that a relevant amount of casual players that don’t actively follow gaming news somehow decided to watch the latest Inside Xbox, we live in the information age. They’re going to see beyond the trickery at some point during a game’s long promotional cycle, even just by spotting the available platforms on the (virtual or physical) store shelves.
Ultimately, it’s borderline misleading in the pettiest of ways, because it isn’t even effective.
It’s funny (and a bit disheartening) to see Sony’s, Nintendo’s, and Microsoft’s executives talking the talk by standing together on this or that stage and delivering proud messages of unity among gamers, but unable to walk the walk by simply permitting third-party developers to deliver a clear and honest message on what platforms a game is being developed for.
Unfortunately, misleading your customers just as much as you can get away with and stopping just short of explicitly lying is an extremely widespread way of doing marketing. It’d be nice if gaming, which is a hobby with a highly-informed and educated customer base, perfectly able to see past the smokes and mirrors, could be better.
If platform holders want to assert the superiority of their consoles’ catalog, that’s perfectly fine and dandy. That’s what actual exclusives are for.
Pretending that multiplatform games aren’t coming for other consoles is simply dishonest. I’d be delighted to see Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do away with it, but again, I’m not holding my breath. Please prove me wrong.