Overall, platform exclusivity is not a good thing for gamers. It can be a good thing for platform holders, of course.
In principle, it's great for games to be as widely available to as many potential players as possible. Releasing across formats helps that. Of course, it comes with other complications – multiformat releasing are technically far more challenging for developers – but in an ideal world, where this is handled correctly, it's a win-win.
So why did Xbox boss Phil Spencer face hostility on Twitter yesterday when it was announced that Quantum Break would release on PC at the same time it arrives on Xbox One?
Lots of arguments were presented, but the ones that attracted the most attention online were these:
@XboxP3 Phil, you didn't stop to ask the hardcore fans that stuck by Xbox if this is even what we wanted. It's not.— The CrapGamer (@The_CrapGamer) February 11, 2016
@XboxP3 And sad to say, I cancelled my Quantum Break pre-order as I said I would. You weren't up front on QB going to PC.— The CrapGamer (@The_CrapGamer) February 11, 2016
The argument here is that Microsoft should have consulted with fans before making a business decision, and that by making the game available to PC players, Xbox One players are in some way harmed.
Which seems ridiculous on both counts, as Spencer very politely pointed out:
@The_CrapGamer You cancelled a pre-order for a game you want to play because someone else get's to play the game on Windows?— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
Although the debate continued:
@XboxP3 On principle Phil. It wasn't listed and suddenly gets listed a month before it releases? And I know Halo, Gears, Forza are next.— The CrapGamer (@The_CrapGamer) February 11, 2016
@The_CrapGamer I've said it over and over, we are focused on the best place to play for gamers, not about creating walls.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
That wasn't the end of it for Spencer, either:
@Fir3blad320 High end PC gaming rigs aren't the price of a console. People play on console because they love that experience, same for PC.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
@PNF4LYFE We've been evolving our strategy over 2 years. We try to share as early as we can, GDC, Gamescom. I'll take the feedback on timing— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
@The_CrapGamer I think u know how much I respect our hardcore Xbox fans. And I understand your passion. Making Xbox great is a big priority.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 11, 2016
Whether Microsoft is right to release some of its Xbox One exclusives on PC is a valid debate, however. With the console lagging so far behind PS4, a stronger slate of exclusive games can only help sales.
On the other hand, Xbox One sales are outpacing the wildly successful Xbox 360. PS4 sales, in that context, are beside the point. And why not make the most of its Microsoft Games Studios by making its titles available to a wider audience? After all, are PC versions of these games really likely to eat in to Xbox One sales?
And is this not precisely the thing that Nintendo has for years been urged to do – release its top quality in-house releases from the confines of its own struggling hardware?