Destiny is not a PlayStation exclusive, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that it might be
With Jon posting his hottest upcoming PS4 titles piece yesterday, something has become abundantly clear: Sony are rather on the slim side when it comes to exclusives this autumn and winter. LittleBigPlanet 3 is a game that the PS4 is crying out for, but it's being developed outside of the walls of Media Molecule's offices. PlanetSide 2 offers the expansive-yet-accessible F2P FPS that the new-gen platform has been crying out for, but why the hell has it taken so long, and will anyone care given that the game has been free and awesome on PC for years? We've struggled collectively as a team to muster even a smidgen of enthusiasm for Driveclub after a PR omnishambles and countless delays, especially given that the racing genre is packed to the gills this year and Evolution are facing staunch competition from the likes of Forza Horizon 2 and The Crew.
And I'm going to punch the next person who crows about The Last of Us Remastered like it's the sodding Second Coming.
Wightmad suggested that the Wii U is getting better exclusives than this. Looking at Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros, I'm inclined to agree.
But, as we've suggested before, Sony are playing a long game indeed, and they're using the same weapons Microsoft employed with the Xbox 360 to do so: third-party partnerships. We could discuss the ethics of this until everyone involved is blue in the face, but the fact remains that both companies are investing heavily in cultivating third-party partnerships and bringing exclusive snippets of big-name games back from the haggling table. It could be as simple as running exclusive ads with your console appearing at the end, or something as brazen as securing a massive chunk of gameplay.
Microsoft have already done this with FIFA, essentially making Ultimate Team an exclusive piece of DLC. That's a big audience, football is massive, and people will jump ship for that. But Sony are doing something even more daring. They're going after Halo fans.
They're going after me.
Destiny is not a PlayStation exclusive, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that it might be. From the PS4 reveal last year through to E3 here in 2014, Bungie and Activision have been stepping out publicly with Sony more visibly than anyone else. There are the onstage appearances, the exclusive demos, the Alpha that was only available on PlayStation platforms, and the beta that's been a PlayStation exclusive thus far. PS3 and PS4 owners will be getting pretty much everything before anyone else, and that matters. It's why pre-order culture exists and proves so lucrative. We gamers can be extraordinarily impatient for titles that we really, really want. And Bungie have gone out of their way to demonstrate why you ought to really, really want Destiny.
It was only last month that Microsoft had wowed me with an extremely competent and ultimately impressive E3 showing, promising to deliver a comprehensive Halo experience this winter that I simply couldn't and wouldn't be without. But then the Destiny Alpha happened, and my debit card stayed put rather than being handed over for an Xbox One. That may still change, of course, but having sunk upwards of thirty hours into Destiny already, across Alpha and Beta, I'm beginning to realise just how much I've missed Bungie's inimitable style.
Part of it is also next-gen vs nostalgia. The Master Chief Collection is looking like it'll be a truly impressive content package and pure fan service. And as much as it's the way Halo feels to play that really grabs me, I have to say that I'm a big fan of the lore, particularly the hard sci-fi stuff. Don't screw Halo 5 up and bring in some Messianic narrative of utter twaddle, 343i, that would be terrible.
But in terms of gameplay design, Destiny intrigues me more. I've still got so many questions and reservations that need answering, but the feel of it and the thrill of it, remind me of the first time I picked up an Xbox controller and heard the Halo theme rise and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. There's something about Bungie's mechanical execution and a Marty soundtrack that just does it for me.
But Destiny's out on Xbox One too, right?
It is indeed, but it probably won't sell Xbox One consoles. That PS4 Destiny bundle, however, is raking in the pre-orders. Sony might not have had exclusives to really shout about as yet in this console generation, and Microsoft certainly had the strong launch lineup, but the PS4 has remained consistent: it is a powerful gaming device, no more and no less. The Xbox One, on the other hand, has had its focus realigned constantly, the PR message changed time and time again. The removal of mandatory Kinect has clearly freed up some power -- Destiny will now run at 1080p at launch, we are told, thanks to that -- but that only really brings the Xbox One just about level with the PS4. The damage has already been done in the public eye: the prevailing notion is that the PS4, though perhaps running on former glories, tread-water games, and brand loyalty, is the better console, particularly where multiplatform games are concerned.
Microsoft has Call of Duty in the bag, they have done for some time, and they've delivered and announced more impressive exclusives than Sony thus far. But for many gamers, third-party games are actually more important. And Destiny might not be a PlayStation exclusive, but the PS4's stronger track record with multiplaform games thus far, its emergence as a lead platform early on, and the bits and pieces that Sony have actually managed to lock down must not be overlooked.
Instead of "only on PS4" for a select few games, Sony appear to be gunning for "better on PS4" across the board. And it's working.