As you may know, Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge, not so long ago advertised as a WiiU exclusive, will release on April 5th for PS3 and Xbox360, and thus enters the wonderful world of timed exclusives.
There are two types of timed exclusives, those that are known as such (the nearest example being the Call of Duty DLCs) and the ones that are so without telling you. In the first case, you do know you will be able to access the content, but you have to wait. In the second situation, of which Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge is an example, you do NOT know that the game in question is coming to your system 3 months later. Consequently and if you are a big Ninja Gaiden fan, you may think it NECESSARY to buy a WiiU to enjoy your hobby, which is slicing demons while playing as a busty female ninja. And as all the promotion campaign around it tells you that you won’t be able to play it elsewhere, you take your credit card and go invest a whopping 350€ in a system you wouldn’t even have considered buying before. The problem is that on Feb. 6th, you wake up and spend a lovely day until the moment you realize that not only have you wasted 350€, but also that some ill-mannered people gave you an inferior version. This kind of practice has a name : this is FRAUD. By moneyhatting Tecmo to have them shut up during a few months (during which they were secretly developing the PS3/360 versions), Nintendo clearly intended to DECEIVE Ninja Gaiden fans by luring them in buying their poor excuse for a system.
Let’s say it loud and simple : timed exclusives are BAD. It is a lose-lose-lose situation, everybody loses. Gamers obviously, who either throw money in something they don’t want or wait in anguish. The publisher probably gets a nice amount of money, but has to face the uprising of outraged fans, a blackened brand image and an eroding consumer confidence. And when like TecmoKoei you still have PS3/X360/Vita games to sell, it’s not very clever to flout your client for a game destined to bomb. For the manufacturer as well, it’s a very risky option : denied fans tend hold it responsible for their misfortune, and you don’t give money to somebody you resent. When an exclusive isn’t seen as legitimate, people aren’t likely to believe it. That’s precisely what happened to Ninja Gaiden Razor’s Edge on WiiU. It sold only a thousand units in UK and France, far to less to move a significant amount of systems. And the long-term consequences are serious : when the game is finally known as «temporary» exclusive and players realize they’ve been deceived, they will no longer trust the instigator of such a scheme. Since its infamous takeover of Tales of Vesperia or Star Ocean 4, Microsoft has been non-existent in Japan, and they have little chance there for their next-gen console. Japanese RPGs are back exclusively on Playsation systems and the public for those games only there.
A good exclusive is not temporary, it’s definitive. It can have a positive impact only when it’s perceived as legitimate. It can be so because the studio in charge is directly tied to a manufacturer (The Last of Us, Forza, Zelda…), when the technology doesn’t make possible to port (ZombiU), or when the audience is mostly on one platform (Tales of Xillia, Hyperdimension Neptune).
This madness must STOP! Too many angers have exploded, too much tears have been shed for always the same result : divided gamers going against each other. It would be far better for everyone that manufacturer play their true hand without concealing additional aces in their sleeves.