Bloodborne has been unleashed upon the world. As a fanatic of From Software’s previous games, especially Dark Souls, there’s nothing I’d like better than to swan-dive into their latest merciless masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s one of the precious few recent console exclusives anyone cares about, and since I don’t own a PS4 and can’t justify buying one for basically a single game, that means it’ll probably be years until I ever really get a chance to sink my teeth into it. But as bitter as I am about this situation, I grudgingly admit that exclusive games may not always be the anti-consumer practice I once assumed they were.
In the time since I started leaning more towards PC gaming, I’ve rattled off a diatribe or two about the current state of consoles. One recurring argument I’m guilty of parroting is that recent consoles have little to offer beyond exclusive games, a position I still support, but lately I’ve come to realise the situation isn’t quite as black-and-white as my initial vision of games being held hostage to sell overpriced hardware.
Yes, it’s a shame that some titles can only be played on certain brands of machine. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need a PS4 to play Bloodborne any more than you’d need a Chilton bookmark to read Dune. On the face of it, then, exclusive games seem like a net loss for the consumer and serve only to add value to consoles with steadily decreasing advantages over even a moderate-tier PC.
What I hadn’t considered was that in some cases, such as Nintendo’s decision to fund Bayonetta 2, a game’s creators might not have been able to get their project off the ground if not for an exclusivity agreement. Sure, Kickstarter has worked wonders in the past, but crowdfunding even a fraction of the average AAA game’s budget is an extreme exception to the rule. And certainly if I was a developer struggling to acquire capital and I saw a letter from Sony or Microsoft land in my porch, I’d be mad not to at least hear them out.
So, while I’d still prefer if Bloodborne had been released on a platform capable of smooth and silky framerates, I’ve learned that some exclusivity deals may still bring more to the gaming landscape than they take away.