The practice of making certain content in a Video Game exclusive to particular versions or players, usually as a means to encourage connecting with other players (who have the other content). It is popularly paired with more than one (otherwise-identical) version of the game being published simultaneously.
The exclusive content is not mandatory for completing the base game, just for a player's 100% Completion.
Action Role-Playing Games
- For Marvel Ultimate Alliance, "last-gen" consoles of the time (PS2 and the original Xbox) lacked Colossus and Moon Knight. The PSP version of the game didn't have them either, but instead got Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Ronin. The PS3 and Xbox 360 also received DLC characters that the other versions didn't (Cyclops, Dr. Doom, Hawkeye, Hulk, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, and Venom). The Wii version was at one point going to have Link and Samus as Guest Fighters, but for whatever reason it didn't work out.
- Ultimate Alliance 2 was the same, with both major versions having their own exclusives: The "last-gen" version (PS2, PSP, and Wii) had Blade and Cyclops; while the "next-gen" (PS3 and Xbox 360) had Iron Fist and additional DLC of Black Panther, Cable, Carnage, Juggernaut, and Magneto. Psylocke was available in both, but as a default character in the last-gen version while she had to be bought separately as DLC in next-gen. The last-gen version also lacked other features from the next-gen one, like Stan Lee cameos and alternate costumes, due to being developed separately.
- Tomb Raider: Underworld had additional chapters that were only playable on the Xbox 360 version as DLC. Said DLC was never made available on other platforms and no explanation was ever given.
- Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider II, and Tomb Raider III all had expansion packs created that were released solely on PC. Even with the rerelease of the base games on Steam and GOG.com, the expansion packs were never brought over.
Beat 'Em Up
- Soul Calibur 2 has one exclusive Guest Fighter on each release platform: The Xbox version gets Spawn, the PS2 version gets Heihachi from Tekken, and the GameCube version gets Link. It is however not possible to connect and battle other players on different versions.note Soul Calibur 4 has Darth Vader as a default character on the PS3 version, and Yoda on the Xbox 360. (The other exclusive character can be purchased as DLC.)
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U has the same roster of fighters between its console and portable versions, but some stages differ between the two and each features different game modes as well (e.g. sidescrolling-beat-em-up-style Smash Run on the 3DS vs. board-game-style Smash Tour on the Wii U). The Wii U version also supports up to eight simultaneous fighters (instead of four) and features a Level Editor. It's not possible for the two versions to play together, but it is possible to use the 3DS version as a controller for playing the Wii U version, and transfer customized Mii Fighters between the two versions.
- Ready 2 Rumble Boxing has one exclusive boxer depending on which console version you get: Jimmy Blood on the Dreamcast, Gino Stiletto on the Playstation and J. R. Flurry on the Nintendo 64.
- Mortal Kombat: This has been a practice done by the makers of the Mortal Kombat games since Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
- Mortal Kombat Trilogy: While the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and most other platforms had all the characters that existed up to that point plus newcomer Chameleon (who had the abilities of the male ninjas), the Nintendo 64, due to having less memory than the other consoles, lacked some characters. Though to make up for this shortcoming, it did feature a female ninja named Khameleon (who had the moves of the female ninjas) exclusive to that version.
- Mortal Kombat Gold: This Sega Dreamcast version of MK4 included extra returning characters (Kitana, Mileena, Cyrax, Kung Lao, Baraka, and Sektor) that weren't on the other versions.
- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance: The Game Boy Advance port of this game, Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition, added three characters not available on the home consoles, those being Noob Saibot, Sektor, and Sareena (with the last making her fighting game debut after being an NPC introduced in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero).
- Mortal Kombat: Deception: The GameCube, due to lacking online play, added Goro and Shao Kahn to its roster to make up for its shortcoming. Another port for the Playstation Portable, Mortal Kombat: Unchained, in addition to those aforementioned also added another four (Jax, Kitana, Frost, and Blaze), an endurance mode, and all characters were available at start (though the alternate outfits still had to be unlocked).
- Mortal Kombat: Armageddon: The Nintendo Wii version, released a year after the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions, lacked online play, but had an endurance mode in its place and also added Khameleon who had been absent from the PS2 and Xbox versions. In addition, the Wii version in its extra features section included a trailer for Rampage: Total Destruction in place of the other console versions' trailer for Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run.
- Mortal Kombat 9: The Playstation platforms (PS3 and Play Station Vita) featured Kratos as a Guest Fighter.
- Mortal Kombat X: The mobile versions (Android and iOS) include extra characters (Baraka, Jade, Shao Kahn, and Guest Fighter Freddy Krueger) not available on consoles, exclusive alternate skins, and extra playing modes.
- Dead by Daylight's PC version has Guest Fighter Bill Overbeck along with some outfits from that game, but Bill or the outfits aren't on the console versions due to Valve wanting to keep it exclusive to Steam.
Japanese Role-playing Games
- The Pokémon series is the best-known example with version-exclusive content being a core design element of the franchise; each main series generation sees the release of two (otherwise-identical) games which feature minor differences in their in-game content, including:
- Certain Pokemon species are exclusive (or at least more common) in one version, such as Scyther and Pinsir in Generation I, or Braviary and Mandibuzz in Generation V; the only way to acquire them in the opposite version is by trading with another player. This also extends to the updated "third versions" seen in many generations, where some wild Pokemon easily obtainable in the original pair are not encountered at all in the third; and to some of the series's spinoffs, such as the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series whose first two installments were released in a pair of versions. Some time-limited distributions also give the player a different Pokemon depending on which version of game they are playing.
- Since Generation III, the game's central storyline is generally tweaked to focus on a specific legendary Pokemon (also depicted on the game's cover art) which the player will encounter at some point. It may or may not be possible for the player to encounter the legendary mascot of the other version in the same game (outside of an updated third version).
- Generation V expanded the differences, with some areas receiving aesthetic tweaks between versions, and a few (Black City and White Forest) being entirely exclusive to one version or the other.
- Pokémon X and Y mixes up the formula in a few new ways: Not only are some Pokemon (like the Manectric and Houndoom families) version-exclusive, but some Mega Stones are too (e.g. Charizardite X and Y); in fact, some Mega Stones are exclusive to the opposite version that their matching species is normally found in.
- Starting with the second game, Yo-Kai Watch follows Pokémon's example by splitting yo-kai between games. You can trade with other players to get yo-kai. The third versions also include all of the yo-kai.
- In the console releases of Skylanders, one collectible Hat is specific to each platform (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) and can't be acquired in the others, but (because the hat is saved on the actual toy) any toy with that hat is allowed to wear it in any version.
- The Wii U version of Skylanders SuperChargers features two exclusive characters along with their respective vehicles: Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and his Barrel Blaster, and Hammer Slam Bowser and his Clown Cruiser. (They're also compatible with its reformulated companion game for the Wii and 3DS, Skylanders SuperChargers Racing.)
- In Super Meat Boy, the exclusive characters for the Xbox 360 version are Gish, Alien Hominid, Tim, Spelunky, Pink Knight, and Ninja. The PC version, meanwhile, features Goo Ball, Josef, Naija, Runman, Captain Viridian, and Steve. If you get the PC version from Steam, you unlock a Headcrab in place of the Goo Ball, although the Goo Ball can still be playable by typing "ballgoo" before selecting a character. Tim is also in the PC version, but you need to type "outtatime" before selecting a character if you want to play as him.
- Shovel Knight: Versions of the game for Playstation 4 and Xbox One had exclusive bonus missions. The PS4 version featured an optional boss battle with Kratos from the God of War Series and the XBOne included missions involving the Battletoads. Meanwhile, the versions on Nintendo consoles include extra features unlocked by amiibo.
- The original Wii U version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker had a handful of levels taken directly from Super Mario 3D World and adapted for Captain Toad's game mechanics. When it was later released on the 3DS and Switch, these were taken out and replaced with all-new levels based on Super Mario Odyssey.
- Sega Superstars:
- Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed allows Xbox 360 players to use their system Avatar as a racer, while Wii U (and Nintendo 3DS) players can use their Mii as a racer. The PC version (on Steam) features a Team Fortress racer (a vehicle piloted by the Heavy, Pyro, and Spy), a Shogun from Total War, a football manager, and a Russian general from Company of Heroes 2.
- The Xbox 360 version of the previous game, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, added Banjo and Kazooie as a racer. The Wii version was planned to add Mario, but they decided to leave that for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Similarly, the PS3 version was supposed to include Sackboy, but Sony denied them permission so as not to compete with his series' own kart racer.
- The PS2 and GameCube versions of the first Splinter Cell, to make up for the downgraded quality compared to the Xbox and PC originals, each added their own exclusive content. The PS2 version has an extra mission, while the GameCube version has a few in-game items that require use of the console's GBA connectivity.
- Metal Gear
- Substance, the expanded edition of Metal Gear Solid 2, was first released as an Xbox-exclusive a year after the original Sons of Liberty edition was released on the PS2. In addition to having all the extra difficulty settings and game modes that were added in the Japanese and European version of Sons of Liberty (e.g. European-Extreme, Casting Theater, Boss Survival), Substance also added two new game modes: VR/Alternative Missions, a series of non-story-based missions with varying goals, and Snake Tales, five stand-alone non-canon missions in which the player controls Snake in environments from the main game. The PS2 version of Substance, which came a bit later, added a third new mode, Skateboarding, in which Snake and Raiden does exactly what it says on the tin on the Big Shell.
- The launch versions of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on consoles featured a different unlockable mission (extra-op) depending on the platform. The PS4 and PS3 versions of the game featured Deja-Vu, a mission in which the player must recreate events from the original Metal Gear Solid on the enemy's base, while the Xbox One and 360 versions featured Jamais-Vu, in which the player controls the cyborg version of Raiden from Metal Gear Rising as he takes on alien invaders inspired by the titular bioroids from Snatcher. Both missions were made available on all four consoles via a free update, while the later-released PC version on Steam included both missions from the get-go with their respective achievements.
- When games are ported to Nintendo platforms, especially with their assistance, there's a high chance they will include items, costumes, or other facets of gameplay derived from established Nintendo properties. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 gives most of the roster an alternate Mario-themed costume, Bayonetta gives the title character costumes and reformulated attacks based on various IP, Minecraft has entire Nintendo-themed packs, and so on.