As Sony and Square Enix announced in a joint blog post, it will be for Marvel’s Avengers give an exclusive Spider-Man DLC after the game is released. A Sony exclusive deal. In addition to being exclusive to PlayStation, Spider-Man will also be free. This is not just an uncool move by Square Enix, because Marvel’s Avengers appears on multiple platforms and it is unlikely that the Xbox version will be sold for less. Although less content is offered to Xbox players. At the time of this writing, Marvel’s Avengers is even five euros cheaper on Amazon * for PS4 than for Xbox One.
It’s also not very smart from Sony, and it is doing the PlayStation brand a disservice. The exclusive deal is of course celebrated in the comments column on the Sony blog, but things are different on social networks. There are quite a lot of negative opinions about it and I agree with them. Not just in terms of content. I also find the way of the announcement, which feels as if it was very deliberately written from a kind of pole position.
This is not about exclusive games …
Spending money to withhold Spider-Man in a multi-platform game from other video gamers is something very few find cool these days. And it was already different. In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PCs, Spidey was a playable character for all fans. The game was released in September 2017. A year later, Marvel’s Spider-Man was released exclusively for PlayStation 4. Now they seem to want to give the impression that Spider-Man is a PlayStation brand.
Of course, Sony holds partial rights to Spidey and I am expressly not interested in exclusive games. If Sony financially supports the overall development of a video game as a publisher, exclusive publishing is perfectly fine. I even wish that. Platform-exclusive games, especially those from first-party studios but also those from third-party manufacturers, have almost always been among the best video games of the generation in the past.
Sony PlayStation doesn’t need that
Just think of the revival of Bayonetta (Platinum Games) by Nintendo or Bloodborne by FromSoftware. Or … oh man, the Xbox god (and his followers) please have mercy on me. Um, Cuphead from Studio MDHR, at least temporarily? Exclusivity will also be an important marketing tool in the next generation and I find that completely legitimate and ultimately also to the benefit of the video game community. Good games are good for everyone; competition is good for business.
But in the case of the Spider-Man exclusive deal for a multiplatform game, it doesn’t feel as if Sony primarily wants to do something good for its own platform, but rather withholds something specifically, almost maliciously, from others. To shine yourself. This is exclusivity of the less smart kind and, above all, PlayStation doesn’t need that at all. Sony has proven to its well over 100 million PS4 buyers at the end of the generation that it was definitely worth it to own a PlayStation 4. You will be able to benefit from this advance praise for the release of PlayStation 5.
Real deals instead of thieving steals
Sony would do well to rely on feel-good exclusivity rather than such strange exclusive deals. Fall Guys at PlayStation Plus, it was a win-win. Real deal instead of thieving steal! But when you hear from industry insiders like Imran Khan (Kinda Funny Games) that Sony wants to spend a lot of money in order to secure “more exclusive deals”, I get worried. Because according to Khan, it should not only be about exclusive games, but also continue to talk about exclusive content in discussions with third-party manufacturers. There should hardly be a third-party manufacturer with whom this was not at least explored.
In this generation, PlayStation has worked hard to achieve a “For the Gamers” image, which Sony has now bought and which, despite some missteps in the recent past, still exists. With a restrictive and non-transparent publication policy (keyword “anti-ecchi guidelines”) and sometimes strangely arrogant cross-play policy (Microsoft and Nintendo benefited from this), it has already caused a few frowns. I think you shouldn’t tie in with Sony exclusive deals like the latest one. Because you don’t have to. Anyway, I think that’s pretty unsexy and think the money would be better off with indie studios, FromSoftware exclusive games or first-party developers.
Images: Marvel’s Spider-Man, Sony, Insomniac Games