Not So Exclusive
Horizon: Zero Dawn is coming out for PC this year, according to Kotaku. It will be the first PlayStation exclusive developed by Sony to be released on a different platform, signifying a new era for gaming. While certain PS4 games are available to stream on PC through a PlayStation Now subscription, Horizon will be an official port. After years of using exclusives such as Horizon, God of War, Spiderman, and countless others to drive sales for their PlayStation platform, this marks a drastic strategic change on Sony’s part.
Death Stranding (developed by Kojima Productions but funded and published by Sony) launched in November 2019 and will also be released on PC later this year. It makes sense for Sony to do this, if they want to remain competitive in the current market; Microsoft’s approach for their new Xbox Series X involves cross-platform integration for all first-party games from the Xbox One through PC. The future of the industry is veering away from console exclusivity, and revealing the importance of a united player base.
Don’t expect Sony exclusives to be released simultaneously on PlayStation and PC, however. Sony will still want to drive hardware sales, and timed exclusivity is a great way to achieve that. Expect delays similar to that of Death Stranding’s (about one year from original launch to PC port) for any exclusive they extend to PC. It’s a win-win, PC users will experience excellent first-party PlayStation titles while Sony broadens their software user base and generates game and hardware sales. It’s a necessary shift for Sony to continue evolving in the changing industry.
A New Light
Besides Horizon: Zero Dawn, it’s uncertain which PS4 exclusives will stay exclusive. What is certain is that, provided Sony devs create well-optimized ports, PC users will get to enjoy these first-party titles at their maximum potential. Imagine God of War, not locked at 30 frames per second like on PS4, but instead running at a steady 90 or 100 FPS (doable with good optimization). Players would get to customize things like terrain view distance, shadows, textures—everyone would finally see what the game looks like on ultra.
Sony stands to benefit from this exposure, their “exclusives” will be streamed from high-end machines for the world to see, displaying the games in their best light. PC releases of PlayStation exclusives will likely see high streaming traffic for those titles in ultra settings, which in turn creates further awareness of the games and drive further PC and Playstation software sales. With the changing climate in the industry, Sony has only to gain from putting their games into the hands of more people.
For the next two years, Microsoft has promised to continue supporting the Xbox One for users who won’t immediately be purchasing an Xbox Series X, similar to what happened with the Xbox 360. They’ll also continue providing services like Game Pass and honoring their commitment to releasing games on Xbox and PC simultaneously. They’ve shown a willingness and desire to integrate cross-platform and cross-play when possible, and they’ve done all this to bolster the gaming community. Sony needs to follow suit and provide an equally accessible environment for their new PS5.
The more options a user has in terms of hardware with which to play a game, the better for the overall community; no more friends prohibited from playing with each other simply because they chose different consoles. This trend can be seen in games such as the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, where users playing on different consoles can play together online. Sony has been hesitant about jumping into the cross-platform craze as their brand identity is one of their biggest assets, but they are being pulled in by the times and their loyal fanbase.
One big compromise was in 2018; Sony had been blocking cross-play between the PS4 version of Fortnite and the Nintendo Switch/Xbox versions. Players on PS4 couldn’t play against those on the other systems, and they couldn’t access skins and purchases in the game on any platform other than the PS4. Sony finally gave in and enabled crossplay for Fortnite gamers, proving they are capable of taking the necessary steps forward into the future. Microsoft and Nintendo are far ahead in this regard, however, and this new generation will be all about platform interconnectivity.
It Stands to Reason
Sony is changing their game plan for the new decade; the industry is evolving and they’ll get left behind, if they don’t change with it. Releasing certain PlayStation exclusives on PC is part of the bigger picture—one where the barriers of hardware platforms are knocked down in exchange for a connected ecosystem of software and fans. People want to play together, they want to be able to play from different locations, and they want their data and accounts to go with them, staying synced.
Sony’s goal has always been to drive game and console sales, so their hesitance is understandable, however, allowing more players access to their titles will only benefit them. Besides, there are always gamers who get each console, every generation. Whether a Sony exclusive can be played on PC won’t stop them from purchasing the newest PlayStation. Sure some players will forego buying the new console, but this doesn’t seem to stop Microsoft, who is releasing all of Xbox’s exclusives day one on PC.
A PlayStation fan is still a PlayStation fan when they’re playing their Nintendo games, it isn’t a world of black and white loyalties. Sony is smartening up to this fact, and with time they will embrace the “shared ecosystem”, though, to what extent it’s impossible to say. They can’t afford to alienate fans who enjoy gaming on multiple consoles, especially now that their rivals are catering to that exact demographic. They stand only to increase their fanbase by facilitating their games into as many people’s hands as possible.
Exclusives coming to PC could also mean better games. As Sony devs learn to port games and develop for PC they’re likely to gain useful knowledge they can then incorporate into future projects. Thus, PC ports will lead to better exclusives for the PlayStation itself in the future, benefiting everyone involved. Hopefully, Sony will reveal more information regarding their plans for exclusives soon (maybe at one of the multiple conferences they opted for instead of E3 this year), but until then it’s exciting to have Horizon: Zero Dawn confirmed!
God of War, Spiderman, The Last of Us, Ratchet & Clank, Bloodbourne, and Uncharted are just some of the exclusive titles PC players are hungering for, and it would be amazing to see a list like this for games coming over to Windows. They’ll have their own Sony software network integration and push Sony infrastructure, which will benefit Sony and motivate them to continue supporting exclusive ports. It’s a win-win!