To some degree I feel that the issue of exclusivity is maybe a bit of a blameless one. Developers and publishers make a product and they want it to be successful. Console makers do the same. Hell, we would all do the same, right? If you made something for the purpose of selling it, you’d want it to make the most money possible wouldn’t you? So again, in a way, no one is really at fault here. But if we’re going to be mad about it, then I feel that there is at least some blame to lob around, and I think that most of it should be aimed at the console maker.
The main reason that I feel that the console maker is at fault is because the console maker, not the publisher, is typically the one forcing you to buy a piece of hardware you otherwise would not need. The Xbox One, the PS4, and the PC are all capable of playing basically the same games (we’re leaving Nintendo out of this fight for now because the Wii U hardware is significantly different from the others). In this case, there is no reason why Tomb Raider Return or Bloodborne couldn’t run on all three platforms. The console maker simply wants you to have to buy their $400 piece of hardware to play it.
The publishers and developers, on the other hand, have no real skin in the console game. Their only goal is to make money off of their particular game. If the accountants say that a deal with Microsoft is worth more than the amount of copies they’d have otherwise sold on PS4 and PC, then the publisher is forced to make that deal (especially if it’s a publicly traded company where there is legal obligation to do what’s best for the shareholders). It doesn’t make the publishers blameless, they’re certainly not. But their goal isn’t to sell you some ancillary piece of hardware, they just want to sell their game. If they run the numbers and the exclusive isn’t worth it financially, then they won’t do it.
The console maker is constantly trying to sell you their box. What’s worse though, is that unlike the game publishers, once you buy the box the console maker deems you irrelevant. When publisher A makes Super Cool Alien Shooters they want it to be good so that they can sell you Super Cool Alien Shooters 2, and eventually 3 and 4 and 5. At the very least, the publisher has a continued vested interest in your game choices. The console maker simply sells you the box, and then stops caring about what you do with it. Sure, Microsoft and Sony make sequels to their consoles in the same way that publishers do, but the sequel to a console has much less to do with the success of it’s predecessor than an actual game does. If you buy an Xbox One right now, and you hate it, Microsoft still has something like six years for you to forget that, or for them to change things.
I guess my main point here is that yes, everyone trying to sell anything is kind of screwing you, one way or the other, but if you want to look at who is out to screw you worse, I feel like it’s the console makers. The game developers and the game publishers aren’t blameless here, but their contribution to this broken system just feels smaller to me.