What’s good for some…should be good for al!
I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with the extravaganza Sony was able to throw over the weekend. The PlayStation Experience was a huge event, almost acting as their own personal E3 convention. The sights, sounds and spectacle of it all really cast the Sony brand in a favorable light and helped put the period at the end of the sentence that was an utterly dominant 2014. However, there was one dark cloud which hung over the festivities I feel needs addressing.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Street Fighter franchise is taking a turn in a very different direction. Starting with the upcoming sequel (fifth in the official line and 105 th overall), only those who own a PlayStation will be able to play the game. After its official reveal l trailer leaked online a day or so ahead of the Vegas conference, many were shocked to learn Sony had seemingly locked up the exclusive rights to the epic title for good. It was a devastating blow to be sure; even to those harden vets behind the scenes at Microsoft. Xbox head Phil Spencer had the following to say via Twitter regarding the announcement, promising he would somehow make it up to their base. “Business deals happen. We won’t do all of them. When we have a 1st party franchise in a genre I’d rather invest in ours…There is a mix of deals to do. But making sure we own IP that Xbox gamers love is critical in my opinion…I’d love it if Xbox fans could play all the games, but business just makes some deals happen. It’s all part of competition…I’ll work on making amends for SF.” His Tweets read.
I’m sure many Sony-ites chuckled after learning they’d now be getting VIP access that others are no longer privy to, but here is why even those who own a PlayStation should be worried. We’re starting to see a dangerous (I might even call it a toxic) trend in the industry today. While I’ve always felt 1 st party exclusives are a valuable tool in selling your platform, locking up 3 rd party franchises in a console-specific death grip does nothing but hurt the market overall. Some might argue featuring Street Fighter V only on PlayStation helps reward those loyal followers of Team Blue.
That might be true to an extent, but you have to consider the flipside of that coin. By extension, that means those who own an Xbox are subsequently being punished. And for what? They’ve done nothing wrong to deserve being left out in the cold, and yet they’ve been cut off from a life-long staple that some have invested 20+ years into. All for the sake of back-door dealings taking place in a conference room somewhere. By all accounts, this is NOT what’s best for the fighting genre as a whole or you as consumers.
And consider this; there’s never been a time when titles like Street Fighter weren’t available on competing systems. No matter what kind of gamer you were (whether it be console, handheld or PC), you always had options. Capcom was like a melting-pot of gaming heritages and religions. Now, that mentality is apparently being thrown by the wayside (although there will be a cross-play option for matchmaking with desktops). What Sony fans should realize is that Microsoft can just as easily drop a huge bag of money on the table and snatch up rights to their long-time favorites just as easily (cough…Minecraft…cough).
So even if you’re a card-carrying member of the PS4 club, I’d suggest not crowing to loudly just yet. You should be more worried about the flood gates of unintended consequences which are likely to swing wide open. Every 3 rd party series around is not up for grabs…and Microsoft is on the hunt.