Yesterday was a big deal for Star Wars fans, old and new. During last night’s PlayStation Showcase, Sony announced that the long-rumored Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake (KOTOR) remake was real, and on the way.
Unfortunately, the remake of what has become the most beloved Star Wars game comes with a catch. According to Sony, it’s a ‘PS5 console exclusive’ at launch, which is a blow to Xbox gamers. It’s also not befitting of a huge franchise like Star Wars.
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Console exclusives are an unfortunate fact of life, and they always have been. If you truly want to be able to play all the video games you want to play, you’re going to have to cough up for every system. Even if you’re primarily a PC gamer, there are always games that are locked away on a different system.
In many ways that’s understandable. Console makers want you to buy their console, because once you have it you’re going to go off and spend money on it. Whether that’s buying accessories, games, digital content, or whatever subscriptions are available. And one of the ways they draw gamers to their system is with exclusive titles.
If you want to play a Mario or Zelda game, you’re limited to Nintendo console. God of War and Spider-Man are PlayStation properties, while the likes of Halo and Gears of War are Xbox console exclusives.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I like it. I’d much rather be able to play every game on a single system, and on the same day as I would if I had bought something else. But there is a big difference between walling off a game made by a first-party developer, and negotiating a deal on one made by someone else.
It’s significantly worse when that game is already part of an established franchise, especially one as big as Star Wars. The fact it’s a game fans still hold dear, and have been asking for a remake of for a while, is like rubbing salt into the wound.
Some have pointed out that the original KOTOR (and its sequel) was also a console exclusive. The games arrived on PC and Xbox, but never made it to the PS2 or Nintendo’s Gamecube. The question as to why this happened has come up a lot over the years, with the consensus being that KOTOR was designed to be a PC game first.
In fact it was only ported to Xbox because its architecture was fairly similar to that of a PC, and meant it was significantly less effort than would be needed for another console port. But that doesn’t really help justify the fact that the KOTOR remake is a PS5 exclusive at launch.
Lucasfilm Games has confirmed (opens in new tab)that the KOTOR remake will be coming to PC at the same time as PS5. Sony’s use of “console exclusive at launch” certainly suggests that the game will be coming to other platforms after a set period of time. Likely the Xbox Series X, since a PS5-tier game probably isn’t going to run so well on Nintendo Switch.
But that doesn’t make this practice ok. No matter what the game, or which platforms, gets the initial advantage, it’s about time we stopped casually accepting it when console makers pull this sort of thing. Especially given how difficult it is to get a next-gen console right now.
I don’t have a PS5 at the moment, but I do want to get one at some point to avoid the whole issue of exclusive titles. The newly announced Spider-Man 2 being a perfect example of this.
Unfortunately the insane demand for PS5s, and the battle to get a console before scalpers, means getting hold of one is an uphill battle. And PC gamers have the same issue, thanks to the insane demand for graphics cards, and the global chip shortage making it very difficult to put together a comparable gaming PC.
Unfortunately this shady practise isn’t likely to end anytime soon. In fact, if reports are true, PlayStation gamers may end up on the other side of a similar scenario when The Elder Scrolls 6 launches. Because Microsoft owns Bethesda, developer of the Elder Scrolls franchise, there’s a very real chance it might skip the PS5 altogether.
Which is probably worse than the KOTOR debacle long term. The KOTOR remake is only a PS5 exclusive at launch, and may well arrive on Xbox eventually. Elder Scrolls 6, if the speculation (opens in new tab) is to be believed, will have no such luck.
Let’s just hope that the console restock situation changes between now and release day. Neither title has a confirmed release date right now, and things could easily change by then. But that doesn’t really change the fact that some very high profile titles are locked away on different platforms. And it doesn’t matter which platform it is, that’s not OK.
Frankly we should be arguing about whether the game will be canon, not worrying about how we're going to play it.