During Sony’s E3 press conference when it was unveiled via a trailer that Insomniac Games was making a Spider-Man game exclusive to the PlayStation 4, my excitement level burst through the roof, and from what I’ve read and seen online in articles and discussions, I’m not the only one. During a recent episode of Huber Syndrome on the Easy Allies YouTube channel, host Micheal Huber did an episode reading tweets about what people got most excited over during E3 and he was wowed over exactly how many people were excited about the Spider-Man announcement, and this was from a show that had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Resident Evil 7:
But of course as we live in the age of comments sections and message boards, you’re going to be met with an equal amount of negativity as well, with most of that coming from those who play on PC or only own an Xbox One. IGN recently put out a video titled “Has Sony Gone Too Far This Time?” speaking specifically about how Spider-Man is a character that shouldn’t be exclusive to one console only and how the characters popularity across multiple media formats shouldn’t be limited to one device in the video game space:
The point is brought up that publishers pay for exclusives all the time which helps drive console sales, with most a recent examples being Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games second to last game Sunset Overdrive being an Xbox One exclusive, but as Spider-Man is a character for everyone it should be held to a higher standard which is also a valid point. Not everyone can afford two consoles, or just prefer to play on PC exclusively, so why should they be denied a Spider-Man game? What the discussion fails to bring up though is that this is not something that’s unique to Spider-Man, or other comic book licensed games for that matter.
During the great 16-bit war of the 90’s between Sega and Nintendo, Sega struck deals with both Marvel and DC that made it such that games starring characters like Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men could only be played on the Sega Genesis. The Nintendo faithful of course got multi platform and exclusive games starring these characters as well, but if you wanted to play The Amazing Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin, or Spider-Man for short, you had to own a Sega machine, the same thing for X-Men and its sequel X-Men 2: Clone Wars. It’s also worth mentioned that though they don’t quite have the brand power of a Spider-Man or X-Men these days, Sega also published a game based on Dick Tracy and a title I looked at a few months back, Ex-Mutants.
Stepping away from comic book characters for a second, a game I don’t see brought up much in those who feel betrayed that Sony is getting an exclusive Spider-Man game is Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64. Unless you want to play the Activision remake that was released a few years ago, you absolutely need an N64 to play Goldeneye 007. Though it never came to pass, Nintendo also once tried to lock down the rights to the Harry Potter series as well. Sega also inked a deal with Disney to bring exclusive games based on Disney properties to the Genesis, which brought an Aladdin game that was unlike anything found elsewhere. Was it unfair for Nintendo or Sega to secure such lucrative licenses to get people to choose their console over a PlayStation or Saturn? or a Genesis over an SNES? No, and Sony is not doing anything malicious either.
Console exclusive games, whether published by a first or third-party, sometimes wouldn’t exist without incentives from a console manufacturer. Bayonetta 2, a sequel to one of my favourite multi platform games from last-gen, wouldn’t exist without the help of Nintendo and it could be that maybe this Spider-Man game wouldn’t exist without the assistance of Sony, who as I’ve written about in the past, appear to have a strong relationship with both Marvel and its parent company, Disney. I’m sure Sony’s relationship with Insomniac, who up until 2013’s Fuse only had games published through Sony, helped a great deal as well. Though I have no way of knowing the deal inked between Marvel and Sony over the rights of Spider-Man, it’s at least theoretically possible that Microsoft could perhaps get a Spider-Man game of their very own if they wanted, it just wouldn’t be the Insomniac one that Sony is getting much in the same way Aladdin on SNES was different from the game that Sega helped publish.
Full disclosure, Sony securing the exclusive rights to Spider-Man in the video game space is fantastic news for me because I choose a PS4 over an Xbox One this generation, but I know how Xbox One owners must feel. Growing up I wanted to play Spider-Man and X-Men on the Genesis based on the TV commercials alone but couldn’t because I owned an SNES:
Okay, they were a lot cooler back in 1991, but the point is, just because Spider-Man is a character who swings between entertainment mediums as much as he swings on webs, doesn’t mean that the property is immune to the same deals that make games like Sunset Overdrive and Bayonetta 2 home to one console and one console only. Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable and beloved characters who has ever existed, and it was only a matter of time before a first-party publisher once again tried to lock down exclusivity to a console. Sadly those who own Xbox One’s are going to have to start saving up for a PS4 whether they want to or not to be able to get their hands on the new Spider-Man game and hopefully it won’t be well over a decade missing out over it like I was with Spider-Man on the Sega Genesis.