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'Destiny' and Console Exclusivity: Why It's Gone Too Far

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 13 comments
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When Sony's E3 2014 news conference kicked off in Los Angeles' Memorial Sports Arena last month, the first thing viewers saw was an epic sci-fi trailer focused on a bleak post-Earth future.

But the footage wasn't from a game made by one of Sony's own studios, which you'd normally expect a console maker's E3 presentation to showcase. Instead, the title was "Destiny," a much-hyped first-person shooter published by Activision and developed by genre veteran Bungie. Activision has budgeted $500 million to develop and market "Destiny," which would be the most ever spent to create a video game.

For seven-and-a-half minutes, Sony presented a healthy helping of "Destiny" gameplay footage. Then, Sony announced that PlayStation gamers would soon get exclusive access to the game's alpha preview build. And early access to the beta build later on. And a limited-edition white PlayStation 4 console that ships with a copy of the game.  

MORE: Most Anticipated Games 2014

"Destiny," due out this fall, is not actually a PlayStation exclusive. But that night, it was hard to believe otherwise.

Destiny E3 2014 Trailer

The Sony-"Destiny" love fest didn't end there. Soon after E3, Sony announced a slew of timed-exclusive missions, maps and gear for the PlayStation consoles, and extras that aren't slated to hit Xbox consoles until the fall of 2015.


Considering that "Destiny" developer Bungie made Xbox a household name with "Halo," the fact that so much content is being kept off Microsoft's consoles may make many Xbox gamers feel positively gutted.

At the end of Sony's "Destiny" showing at E3, the tagline "Play it first, play it better" appeared on the arena's big screen. But for a game that has a huge community of Xbox fans eager to play it, "Play it first, play it better" isn't better for everyone.

Sony and Microsoft: A tale of two destinies

Before we start dissecting differences, let's get this out of the way: The bulk of what makes "Destiny" such an exciting video game will be playable regardless of whether you own a PS4, PS3, Xbox One or Xbox 360. (The title is being released for all four consoles.) All versions of the game will offer a sprawling, futuristic world, complete with story missions, multiplayer arenas and freely explorable environments.

The real problem, for the near future at least, is that PlayStation gamers will have more access to the "Destiny" experience, even though fans of both platforms are ready to pony up $60 for each copy.

MORE: PlayStation 4 Review

When the "Destiny" beta (which, for most, requires a preorder of the game) becomes available July 17, only PlayStation owners will be playing it. When the game returns from a two-day maintenance period on July 23, both PlayStation and Xbox players will get to play through July 27. Both parties get an early taste of one of the year's biggest games, but there's about double the available playtime for those on Sony's console.

The Playstation-exclusive \The Playstation-exclusive "Vanir" armor for "Destiny"Then, there's the actual in-game content. When "Destiny" is released on Sept. 9, PlayStation owners will have exclusive access to a co-op Strike mission located on Mars, a multiplayer arena, three extra pieces of armor, two weapons and three spaceships.

Neither Sony nor Activision have mentioned if you'll have to pay for this extra content, but either way, Xbox fans won't be able to expand their "Destiny" experience with these features until the fall of 2015.

These extra pieces of content might seem superficial, but for those who want to explore every possible inch of the game on Xbox, the year-plus gap is staggering. Between the exclusive access to the alpha, the beta, the white "Destiny" PS4 and the extra content, Sony seems hell-bent on telling gamers that there's no point of playing "Destiny" on any consoles other than its own. That's not OK.

A history of playing favorites

Activision's \Activision's "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare," which will offer DLC for Xbox players first.

What Sony and Activision are doing with "Destiny" is nothing new for the games industry. Activision itself has a history of giving Xbox gamers the first crack at "Call of Duty" downloadable content, and that trend will continue with this fall's "Advanced Warfare." However, PlayStation "Call of Duty" players usually have to wait only about a month to get their hands on timed-exclusive map packs.

MORE: Destiny: Getting Lost in a Sprawling Shooter World

Given Activision's Xbox leaning over the years, is the "Destiny" content lockout its way of making things up to the PlayStation crowd? Possibly. But I don't think PlayStation gamers felt nearly as scorned by having to wait a few weeks for new maps as will the Xbox faithful who have to hold out for more than a year for much more content.

There's always the chance that Activision will throw the Xbox crowd a bone down the line and serve up some Xbox-exclusive add-ons for those feeling starved for new maps and missions. Activision had no comment when we reached out.

Halo, Bungie and fan entitlement

\"Halo Reach," the final Bungie-developed "Halo" game released in 2010.There's a big reason Xbox fans are taking the recent "Destiny" news like a sniper shot to the chest, and that reason is "Halo." Developed by Bungie, this first-person shooter singlehandedly made the original Xbox a must-have in 2001, and spawned worlds and characters that have become a recognizable part of gaming pop culture.

Bungie is making its first multiplatform game with "Destiny" (all the "Halo" games were Xbox exclusives, and Microsoft owned Bungie for several years), and the developer could very well have nothing to do with the game's pro-PlayStation leanings. As the publisher, Activision is the company convincing people to buy the game; Bungie is simply full of folks hard at work making it.

MORE: Xbox One: Full Review

Still, many of the studio's Xbox fans have been very vocal about feeling cheated, especially when Bungie dropped the news of the shorter beta period available for Xbox players. Below are a few impassioned comments added to Bungie's blog post:

"Bungie must hate Microsoft. I spent everything I have for an Xbox One for Destiny, And then I realize that we get 4 days … why Bungie, WHY!"

"The game looks absolutely kick-ass and beautiful, but you're bound to lose players because of this."

"I think I speak for every Xbox user when I say Activision can go to hell."

On the flip side, there are plenty of fans who aren't worried about the PlayStation conundrum at all.

"Us Xbox fans had about seven [Halo] games, and [PlayStation users] had none,” commented user DaedricLord in a Bungie forum. "It's fair that they now get to see how awesome Bungie are."

User MysticJon feels that Activision and Bungie don't owe specific "Destiny" players anything special, as long as the game is great overall.

"Activision spent approximately $500 million to fund the development of Destiny,” MysticJon said in another Bungie forum thread. “Activision (and Bungie) has every right to do whatever they feel they need to do to make that money back and then some."

"Once 9/9 comes around, no one will care about any of this,” he added. “We'll be too busy playing this great game."

I'm an Xbox gamer. I can't wait to play "Destiny." While Sony's aggressive "Destiny" marketing has made me question whether I'm getting an inferior version of the game, I'm still confident that I'm in for a great experience. If Activision and Sony were just a wee bit less aggressive with their timed-exclusives, perhaps other Xbox players would feel the same way.

Hardware manufacturers' "Play it first, play it better" mantra is never going to go away. It's part of the business of games. Still, in the case of "Destiny," I hope that publishers learn not to build too big a wall between different versions of a title that just about everyone wants to play.

Follow Mike Andronico @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 5 Hide
    epobirs , July 16, 2014 7:07 PM
    Perhaps the author has forgotten but Halo was first demoed as a game for the Mac. Then Microsoft bought the company to make the game exclusive to the Xbox. Bungie was originally known as a Mac game company and there was a certain sense of betrayal from Mac adherents then.

    So, can we crank down the volume on the whining a bit? Once Bungie stopped being owned by Microsoft, all bets were off on any new IP created after they'd become an independent company again.

    Are the Metal Gear fans offended by the newer entries being on multiple platforms when they'd been nearly exclusive to Sony for three generations? Are people still mourning the shift from Nintendo by the Final Fantasy series?

    Get over it. If you have to play all of the big titles you are simply going to have to own multiple platforms to play them on. It is no different in other areas. You might regard the best dirt bike at moment as being from one company while another offers the best street racer. Locking yourself into one brand for all forms of motorcycling would be limiting.
  • 0 Hide
    oxiide , July 16, 2014 7:43 PM
    Neither console empire has shied away from locking down entire games to their platform at times. I'd rather see no exclusivity whatsoever—there are PLENTY of better ways to differentiate their products—but baby steps should be worth something. It will be playable on Xbone on day one. On my platform we generally call that a win.

    On that note I'll point out that there's still no indication we'll ever get this game on PC. Personally I could take or leave it, but I think I've made my point.
  • 0 Hide
    Durandul , July 17, 2014 7:14 AM
    Well, this biggest point I would like to point out for people who think that Bungie hates this or likes that, is the fact that it's totally irrelevant. Bungie as a whole could curse sony and microsoft for all the publisher cares, but if the publisher wants it, and Bungie wants to get paid, they will do whatever the publisher tells them to do.
    Hence the reason for Sony first: Sony pays the publisher to have the developer give them exclusives. This is the same reason why we aren't seeing a PC release, at least for now. Publishers, if they can, will attempt to make customers buy the same game twice, once for consoles, and then again on PC.
  • Display all 13 comments.
  • -2 Hide
    booyaah , July 17, 2014 7:56 AM
    PC Gamer master race...thumbs up if you're with me :) 
  • -1 Hide
    rayden54 , July 18, 2014 9:32 AM
    Let's see if I get this straight: It's going "too far" to give PS players a head start, but an Xbox exclusive game is fine?
  • -1 Hide
    mrjoe96 , July 18, 2014 2:35 PM
    The irony in this article is unbelievable the writer complaining about how Sony is getting the timed exclusives when Microsoft have had so many timed exclusives in the past with Call of Duty etc. Now all of a sudden they don't like it cause Sony is getting some timed exclusives and Microsoft are having a taste of their own medicine.
  • 3 Hide
    Jacob Strickland , July 18, 2014 4:03 PM
    Quote:
    The irony in this article is unbelievable the writer complaining about how Sony is getting the timed exclusives when Microsoft have had so many timed exclusives in the past with Call of Duty etc. Now all of a sudden they don't like it cause Sony is getting some timed exclusives and Microsoft are having a taste of their own medicine.

    One month of irony, 11 months of douchebaggery.
  • 0 Hide
    Stirfrymassacre , July 19, 2014 7:29 AM
    As a gamer who prefers the Playstation consoles over the XBOX ones, It was pretty annoying to have to wait a month for every Call of Duty Map Pack, there were so many. Also Bethesda always releasing their add ons for Fallout games and Elder Scrolls games a "Month" in advance. It took them what.. a year or more to get the Skyrim expansions out on Playstation? By that time I had sold my Playstation version of Skyrim and bought it for my 360. How was that fair? Well regardless I don't really see the big deal here, it doesn't seem like the Sony exclusives are really game breaking content, I know it would be nice to have it on XBOX from the start but at least they know they will be getting it at some point.
  • -4 Hide
    Xboxsucks , July 20, 2014 11:51 AM
    I had to say how retardedly hypocritical you sound as a representative of Xbox users, Xbox has been shitting on playstation with exclusive bullshit on COD and battlefield for years and you fucks never complained, in fact you assholes only enhanced your cocky attitude about the system, so shit your hypocritical hole you stupid fuck
  • -3 Hide
    KatePery , July 20, 2014 8:55 PM
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  • -1 Hide
    cats_Paw , July 21, 2014 5:12 AM
    And what should PC gamers (who buy windows OS, from Microsoft) feel like because games are not relesed on PC but are on XBOX?
    And how Am i supposed to feel about the fact that my ex left me because she wanted to try something different?

    Guess what, nobody cares how you feel.
    Frankly, If they decide not to make a game for a certain platform, thats their loss in income, Ill find enought games to play elsewhere.
  • -2 Hide
    SageElf , September 4, 2014 8:51 AM
    This article is such a load of biased crap. Okay author, here's my rebuttal, you are an Xbox fan, I'm a Playstation fan, however I see both sides. Playstation has had slower releases to DLC and other downloadables on multiple cross platform games such as call of duty, oblivion, and Skyrim. In fact in the latter two there are things Playstation will NEVER get and they are both fantastic games. Destiny was going to solely be for Playstation when it first started, Microsoft begged bungie to let them have some of it bringing up halo and all the time they had working together. The contract that was written up was Microsoft could have 75% of the game while Playstation had 100% for the first year then Microsoft could have the rest of the game. So with that all said, before you run crying and screaming let's gather both sides, that being yours and a Playstation fan, and both sides of the corporate side of both, then write your article with a bit more facts.
  • 2 Hide
    alextheblue , September 9, 2014 5:42 PM
    Quote:
    This article is such a load of biased crap. Okay author, here's my rebuttal, you are an Xbox fan, I'm a Playstation fan, however I see both sides. Playstation has had slower releases to DLC and other downloadables on multiple cross platform games such as call of duty, oblivion, and Skyrim. In fact in the latter two there are things Playstation will NEVER get and they are both fantastic games. Destiny was going to solely be for Playstation when it first started, Microsoft begged bungie to let them have some of it bringing up halo and all the time they had working together. The contract that was written up was Microsoft could have 75% of the game while Playstation had 100% for the first year then Microsoft could have the rest of the game. So with that all said, before you run crying and screaming let's gather both sides, that being yours and a Playstation fan, and both sides of the corporate side of both, then write your article with a bit more facts.

    Destiny was going to be Playstation exclusive until MS begged them and brought up Halo and all the good times? Yeah OK, add some talking bears and a trespassing blonde and you've got a full fairy tale.

    A 1-month or so exclusive DLC is no big deal. But intentionally making the DLC a year long exclusive? That's a tad bit excessive, and I think if the content was Xbox exclusive for a year it would STILL be excessive and you'd be quite unhappy.

    As for Skyrim, they ran into technical limitations due to the split RAM configuration which was not present as a limiting factor on Xbox. After the OS you have around ~200MB or so of main RAM available on the PS3. They won't have that issue if and when the next Elder Scrolls hits PS4/XB1, due to both consoles employing large pools of shared RAM.
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