I (as you might imagine) like to peruse around the great wide interweb. Some of that time (as you also might imagine) is spent reading and discussing games (I know, what a surprise). Over the course of the last few years I have observed a troubling trend growing over the term “exclusive” and how it is used. It has become warped into a new marketing term rather than a word out of Websters, and while I do enjoy a good marketing tactic, this one is proving poisonous the longer it persists.

Definition

This whole article is based off of the definition of “exclusive” so allow me to provide it:

Exclusive – Adj

: not shared : available to only one person or group

: only allowing in people from a high social class

: available to only a few people because of high cost

“Exclusive.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exclusive>.

As far as this article is concerned, we are only interested in the first definition, but what is currently happening in the interwebs is a bastardization of the word. Actually, bastardization might be a little light; a complete butchering of the word to make it fit into any situation is a more proper explanation.  For example, a conversation I had on reddit:

Now, its important to note this was in a thread showing an infograph of the Xbox One’s exclusive lineups and this is but one example (I will spare you allllllllllllllllll the others).  It shows you the problem at hand. The term “exclusive” is being stretched to fit the needs of gamers and companies alike so they have another bullet point to use in their favor even when its a flat-out lie. As you can see by the conversation I have provided, it goes from exclusive meaning available on one platform, to two platforms, and then finally all platforms besides the competition. The worst part is, companies are fueling this butchering of the word “exclusive” and it’s working.

Marketing at its finest (and worst)

Back in 2013, Microsoft announced that it would have fifteen exclusive titles for Xbox One:

…Microsoft Studios announced that it has more titles in development now than ever before. In fact, 15 exclusive Xbox One titles will launch in its first year and eight of those are brand-new franchises…

Source: Engadget “Xbox Studios will release 15 exclusive One titles in the first year, eight new franchises”

Let’s see if that claim is true.  Here is a list of Xbox One games claimed to be “exclusive” in their first year :

  • Retail
    • Dead Rising 3
    • Forza Motorsport 5
    • Killer Instinct Pin Ultimate Edition
    • Ryse: Son of Rome
    • Zoo Tycoon
  • Xbox Live
    • Crimson Dragon
    • Halo: Spartan Assault
    • Killer Instinct
    • Killer Instinct Classic
    • LocoCycle
    • Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
    • Powerstar Golf
    • Xbox Fitness
  • 2014
  • Retail
    • Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
    • Forza Horizon 2
    • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
    • Killer Instinct: Combo Breaker Pack
    • Kinect Sports Rivals
    • Minecraft
    • Project Spark
    • Sunset Overdrive
  • Xbox Live
    • D4
    • Dance Central Spotlight
    • Killer Instinct: Season 2
    • Killer Instinct 2 Classic
    • Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015
    • Minecraft: Xbox One Edition
    • Project Spark
    • Super Time Force
    • Kalimba
  • Taken from Wikipedia

Now, out all of those (some are repeated because I did not clean this up from Wikipedia) the only games on this list that are actually exclusive to Xbox One are: *drum roll*

  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Crimson Dragon
  • Powerstar Golf
  • Xbox Fitness
  • Killer Instinct
  • Dance Central Spotlight
  • Kinect Sports Rivals
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection

If you counted, you would find I have nine listed here. So , where did the others run off to? For the first set, games such as Forza Horizon 2 and Zoo Tycoon are available on the 360 as well as Xbox One. The second set? Games such as Kalimba and Project Spark are available on PC. Finally, there is the third set; games that were exclusives, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rom, and D4  who are the worst offenders, because they were timed exclusives. So we started with fifteen and were left with only nine that were actually exclusive. The rest were all “exclusive” with a caveat (a caveat that was not made known until later) or just flat out lies.

Let me be clear here, I am not singling out Microsoft here, other companies do it as well. For example Nintendo uses the term exclusive when describing Super Smash Bros. even though its available on both 3DS and Wii U. It’s just that Microsoft is the most egregious offender when it comes to stretching the terms meaning.

Stop the madness of this “exclusive on Platform X; but not really, because if you look it up you will find it’s available elsewhere, but we will still use this as ammunition in our console wars and our advertisements” marketing tactic and let use regain the actual meaning of the word “exclusive” when it comes to games and their platforms.