With the announcement of Borderlands 3 also being an Epic Games Store exclusive for an as-of-yet-unknown amount of time, its time to talk about the elephant in the room. Exclusivity in an open platform. Currently, Epic Games store hold the exclusive rights to sell 3 new games on their store front; namely Borderlands 3, The Outer Worlds and Metro Exodus.
Traditionally, the only places where this would happen are on consoles because the big manufacturers want to push and sell their hardware and exclusive software is one of the ways for them to entice people to get on board their platform.
Times when it matters
In the times of yore, this practice also had real, legitimate reasons for existing beyond “muh sales”. In the fifth generation of consoles, there is a technical limitation on the kinds of storage Both Nintendo and Sony have went for that necessitates this division between the games that were developed for it. A game made for cartridge access speeds certainly wasn’t going to make full use of CD access speeds.
Times when it didn’t
Fast forward to today when both Sony and Microsoft have basically the same kind of system from AMD, only arbitrary reasons exist for a third-party developer to pigeon hole their games into one platform.
We can also draw parallels to manufacturers outside the games industry for such examples. Famously in the mid-2000s, the EU regulatory agency banned the sale and use of proprietary chargers for mobile devices. The agency stated that it was anti-consumer for companies such as Sony Erricson and Nokia to lock down a common purpose (to charge their phone) so that consumers would continue to buy phones only from them to prevent the hassle. This led to the standardization of mobile phone chargers with USB which is what we have today.
In other cases where this has some reason to exist, take a look at Nikon and Canon in their DSLR line-ups. In general, you are unable to fit a Nikon lens to a Canon body as their mounts were incompatible with each other. Now this has a more dubious, but still technical reason for existing: Both Nikon and Canon needed to design lenses for their own bodies to match their own specifications. Namely things like flange distance and the physical mounting mechanism need to match what their engineers deem to be “ideal”.
Devil’s Advocate: They won’t be exclusives forever
Playing the devil’s advocate, while the news may seem disappointing for people who would like to stick to their digital platform of choice, let us remember that they won’t remain as an exclusive for long. Metro Exodus for example, will be available from other digital platforms a year after release. I’m sure the other two games, Borderlands 3 and The Outer Worlds will also follow suit (depending on their contract with Epic Games, of course).
In the case where a software is required to unlock software, that decision is only made under arbitrary reasons which is frankly BS to me. All this does is garner bad rep for the new digital platform; burning bridges before the bridge was even constructed.
As a primarily PC gamer, this certainly wasn’t good news for me. Limiting consumer choice and freedom is always a bad idea and only the biggest companies get away with it. But I think instead of complaining ONLY about the Epic Games Store, how about complain that ALL games shouldn’t be platform locked for arbitrary reasons?
What are your opinions of these exclusives? Let us know in the comments below.