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Why Playstation bringing more games to PC proves Xbox had the right approach all along

PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller
PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller (Image credit: Sony)

In some big Playstation news this week, Sony Interactive Entertainment's CEO Jim Ryan confirmed that more first-party Playstation games are on their way to PC, starting with Days Gone in the spring. The company has historically been rather sheepish about its stance on cross-platform releases, but these new details open up a whole new world of possibilities for the future of Playstation exclusives on PC. Here's why this policy change from Sony proves Xbox had the right approach all along.

The current situation

Let's start by breaking down the latest developments and the current situation. Ryan was interviewed by GQ about Sony's plans for a next-generation PSVR headset and the future of PS5. In addition to burning topics like PS5 stock shortages and the delay of Gran Turismo 7, Ryan was also questioned about the company's desire to bring more Playstation titles to PC. When asked why Sony held back on releasing games on PC for such a long time, he explained why the company decided to change their approach.

"I think a few things changed. We find ourselves now in early 2021 with our development studios and the games that they make in better shape than they've ever been before. Particularly from the latter half of the PS4 cycle our studios made some wonderful, great games. There's an opportunity to expose those great games to a wider audience and recognize the economics of game development, which are not always straightforward. The cost of making games goes up with each cycle, as the caliber of the IP has improved. Also, our ease of making it available to non-console owners has grown. So it's a fairly straightforward decision for us to make."

This statement backs up much of the industry speculation regarding Sony's long-term vision for the Playstation platform. For many, it was pretty clear that Sony was using the Steam releases of games like Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn to test the commercial viability of PC releases for first-party offerings.

However, from what Ryan discussed with GQ about this PC trial run, it sounds like finances weren't the only concern.

"We assessed the exercise in two ways. Firstly, in terms of the straightforward success of the activity of publishing the game on PC, people liked it and they bought it. We also looked at it through the lens of what the PlayStation community thought about it. There was no massive adverse reaction to it. So we will continue to take mission steps in this direction."

It's interesting to see the head of Playstation disclose the company's fears of community backlash regarding Playstation exclusives coming to PC. From a strictly business standpoint, it's a bit of no-brainer to consider expanding your potential revenue stream with broader platform releases, but Sony was clearly invested in keeping their core audience happy. Thankfully, the reception seems overwhelmingly positive, which should give Playstation more confidence when it comes to bringing their biggest titles to PC in a timely manner.

Xbox's history with this approach

Xbox One S

Source: Xbox (Image credit: Source: Xbox)

When Xbox initially unveiled its plans to release first-party titles day-in-date across console and PC through programs like Play Anywhere, a vocal contingent of console players criticized this approach. It even spawned the infamous "why buy an Xbox?" narrative amongst the most fanatic. To be fair, in the safe, isolated world of console gaming, this was a fairly radical proposition for its time and nobody knew for sure how this would pan out for the Xbox brand. Thankfully, after years of seeing this strategy in action, we know exactly how beneficial multi-platform game releases have been for Microsoft.

From day-in-date releases to porting previous console exclusives to platforms like Steam, Xbox has seen massive success bringing its first-party titles to PC. Games like Sea of Thieves, Grounded, and the Halo: Master Chief Collection have remained consistent top-sellers on Steam, demonstrating the value of these titles and Xbox's commitments to bringing its biggest games to a broader audience. In the case of Sea of Thieves, this increased accessibility nearly doubled the player base. It's become clear that bringing more games to PC has only strengthened the image of Xbox and Xbox Games Studios.

The future of Playstation games on PC

Computex 2019

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

But what does this all mean for the future of Playstation games on PC? Some fans have pointed out that all the games announced or released on Steam so far have been older PS4 titles, but I think Ryan's quote about the company continuing "to take mission steps" to bring more titles to PC paints a picture of Sony's goals for the platform. The forward-thinking from Xbox made it impossible to ignore the critical and commercial success of offering big titles to PC players.

Ryan also acknowledged the financial burdens for the company when it came to producing critically acclaimed blockbuster titles. Opening up the possibilities for more sales on more platforms alleviates some of the pressures of game development on this scale. Because of his willingness to relinquish these intimate details about the business needs of Sony, it's only a matter of time before we see big first-party Playstation titles release day-in-date on both PS5 and PC. Sony understands how the business is changing and they will absolutely cater to the desires of a larger audience.

Share your thoughts!

What are your thoughts on Playstation exclusives coming to PC? Are there any big games you want to see get a Steam release? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.

24 Comments
  • I find it almost ridiculous that a console company is afraid of 'adverse reactions' from their fan base because a game is being released on PC. There's something fundamentally wrong with that thought process. It's almost like me being upset that another person can have a meal when I have my meal. It's just weird. Very glad Xbox was bold enough and not afraid to do this.
  • If the market forces and challenges around game development are true for Sony they were certainly even more true for Xbox. It's not unreasonable for Sony to make sure the move would not harm their business, but I agree it seems like an obvious win for Sony as it has been for Xbox
  • There are some differences tho.
    GamePass for PC (XPA, win32), is still very much within-the-Xbox-ecosystem. Microsoft can show those statistics to publishers (All Xboxes since 2016 + fridge + phones + PC browser + XPA + win32 + etc == how many users we can bring you).
    Xbox studio game like Age of Empires, Flight Sim on Steam are PC-first games.
    Xbox studio game like Halo, Gears, Sea of Thieves on Steam are e-sports or multiplayer games, the more users the better (requires Xbox account).
    The more time and money users invest into the ecosystem, they harder they can go away. So far, PC games from PS studio are single players right? And Sony isn't selling it PsStore, which means, instead of growing PS-ecosystem, they just want more cash (like every other 3rd party)...
  • You're right. The most vocal PS fanboys seem to be more concerned about PS remaining on top by keeping Xbox down rather than raising PS up. There are definitely those who take making PS-exclusive games less exclusive as a personal affront because it means that they can't taunt non-PS owners about their exclusives and that pathetic playground pints-scoring is what matters to them. Of course, Sony has fostered this attitude to a significant degree, so they reap what they sowed. The funny thing is that, while those who would and did complain are the most vocal fanboys, they might also be the ones quickest to leave the platform because what they care about most is what being a PS owner says about them. While others being able to plays those games has zero effect on their experience on PS, it changes what owning a PS says about them, in their eyes at least, so they may well choose to not own a PS any more.
  • Gran Turismo please on PC
  • Console exclusives were perceived to be a strength of PS. That's why they were afraid.
  • Consoles (or any closed system) strength (or one strength) to a company and eco-system is based on exclusivity of software, and control. The real strength of the a closed system is the store internally. The article is silly, Microsoft has been changing strategies for 20 years constantly.... not because they got it wrong, but failure to execute. <-------- Microsoft is just one of many big publishers at this point i.e. Ubisoft, EA, Take Two, etc. I have no idea why anyone would want to copy Microsoft on the consumer side.... grave yard of failed products, services, etc. Failure to execute has been the problem. All we need now is one of those old Jason articles about how Microsoft's plan is trick the world into believing the Windows Phone is a failure, it was a plan. LOL The author doesn't seem to know the numbers we are talking about as for as Sony's gaming business, a few million copies of selling Horizon or Days Gone on Steam isn't even going to be a blimp on Sony's financial statement. Where I think this is going is when they release MP games, they'll probably want those to potentially be released on PS and PC at the same time. Also, the author is confused Death Stranding is a third party game, it was contracted for console exclusivity only. They are using a Sony engine, so part of the agreement was to being able to port the game to PC.... hence why Horizon was picked for PC as well... its the same engine. Days Gone is using UE4 which would be even easier to port in theory. Sony didn't pick Death Stranding for PC, they only paid for the console exclusivity....Sony is not the publisher of the PC game.
  • Game since NES, I own multiple consoles each gen from each maker. I dropped console gaming in 2013 to PC, and then dropped PC gaming in 2016 to Xbox. Why do you think people cannot leave Facebook, Adobe, GitHub, Windows, Steam, Azure, iOS, or Android?
    Cus these services hold yours and friends' investments (time and money) in their hands.
    It'd be toooo easy for users to dump iOS if you have to rebuy every app every time you switch to a new iPhone (or if there's just no way to transfer data you've generated over the years, to the new phone). What is Xbox doing since 2016?
    Hyper-V&Virtual Machine is the foundation of robost & streamlined BC/FC support, XPA and xCloud. Buy 1 game from MsStore, and you can play it on all Xboxes since 2016, PC, phones, fridge and these
    Xbox game owners can xbox-on-the-go on Alienware laptops, Surfaces and these,
    https://youtu.be/oy67CJmOYrE (has a xbox home button)
    https://youtu.be/PuuRdKzJb7U
    https://youtu.be/hw4W58mTh1A (TBA) I cannot PSNow during flights but XPA will run without internet. Xbox-on-the-go with, or without viable internet connection is possible.
    Cross-gen/platform cloud save is free too. What is Sony doing? Bought PS4&Pro Core from AMD. No PSPA. No quick resume.
    From now on, Sony has to keep buying PS4/5/6/7/8 Core, has to keep testing apps and games on new hardware, OS and API.
  • I think that they will first bring older games to PC, if we look Horizon and Days Gone were/are going to release on PC 5 years after the initial release on PS4, but with time, maybe 5 years, games will come simultaneously on PC, for now they can't even if they wanted, PCs still don't have the APIs to handle something like Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart.
  • Day Gone was released in April 2019. Less than 2 years ago.
  • You are right, I don't know why I though it was 2016.
  • I don't believe that it was quiet as successful as most of their exclusives, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. That could be the reason it was a candidate for an early PC release
  • It could be because it's their only exclusive that uses a third party engine (UE4) and because it was considered average by the critics.
  • That's brave of them. Most of their games (all of them?) are singleplayer and those are the games that get pirated the most. On the other hand, it does make the PC awfully compelling as a gaming solution. I hope I won't be required to buy a 70$ DualSense to partake. Timed exclusive games are very different from same day releases, but as long as they wind up accessible to everyone that's a good thing.
  • First of all, the move was inevitable: the PC market is so much bigger than the console business that even a small portion of the PC world will out earn consoles, if done right. So far, Sony's ports have been...okay... Just nothing jawdropping. Second, Sony fearing fanboy reaction is a valid excuse...for Sony. In the early years of PS3 the only thing keeping Sony from going the way of Sega was fan loyalty. Those kids were/are irrationally loyal; annoy them at your peril. Third, game development for Sony has always been...different... Again, the PS3 architecture was pretty byzantine and developers had to manually manage things PCs (or XBOXes) didn't have to. The move to x86 and AMD helped the PS4 get closer to the mainstream, to the point that porting a PS4 game doesn't require a major rewrite. Finally, the XBOX was invented with PC gaming in mind; the name says it all (Direct)XBox, and the new boxes were designed with PC graphics card feature parity in mind. (This is something many in the gaming media/develoler circles still don't get, which is the source of the recurring myth that "SeriesS is going to hold back SeriesX". No. PC games are scalable and DirectX games are easier to make scalable.) This feature parity when coupled to the common development tools makes it much *cheaper* to do both XBOX and PC versions. Sony didn't have that and still doesn't, although the wider adoption of Unreal on the PS side helps a bit. They need to align they tools for both platforms to minimize the porting cost. Otherwise, the numbers won't add it. So again, Sony had and still has good reason to be wary of getting into unknown (for them) territory. As is, the lack of feature parity on PS5 will be making PS5--PC commonality a one way street. PS5 games will likely show up on PC more regularly than PC franchises will seek to expand to the PS market. Sony needs to do PC because, as they said, AAA games are getting more expensive to development and they no longer can count on the installed base advantages they had in the PS2 and PS4 eras. Their sales floor is higher but their ceiling is unknown in the new era where XBOX isn't behind the 8 ball and might even have the high ground. XBOX may not have a chance with the core PS fanbase, but MS isn't aiming for the folks that grew up with Playstations; they're going for the ones growing up now and the folks who have neither. SeriesS and xCloud are a major wildcard. Once GamePass upgrades their servers to Anaconda blades (XMAS?) SeriesS will be able to play anything SeriesX can, even in 4K. For that matter, many folks won't need a console at all. Keep an eye on the 2022 TV sets. It is a new era with new rules and Sony is starting to realize (as MS did 20 years ago) that PC gaming isn't something tbat can be safely ignored. Not anymore. By now it's clear tbat MS is trying to build a unified gaming spectrum where a single code base can be easily tweaked to run on everything from SeriesS to SediesX to gaming PCs of all sizes, plus the cloud. Code once, sell everywhere. Gives them an edge over Stadia, Luna, and yes, Sony. (Personally, I think Sony needs to buy Stadia, not more studios.)
    Doing more PC games won't be enough.
  • At the end of the day, AAA game development, especially for Sony exclusives, is just getting ridiculously expensive, especially for PS5 and beyond, where games will look far more photo-realistic than PS4. Sony exlusives don't sell like Nintendo exlusives; they need to bring their games to more than just PlayStation to gain extra revenue, and to keep funding future AAA development. They basically have shut down Japan Studio, which is nuts to me, but a sign that not everything is going well in PlayStation land. The PC gaming industry, especially in this Covid era, is huge right now, so it just makes sense to bring games to PC and obviously they can't bring their games to rival consoles (sorry Xbots).
  • You know, you were doing fine until that last aside. Still, you made Sony's point why they fear their fans; they are quite capable of boycotting any Sony developed game that isn't exclusive. They need their talking points of superiority even if they have to invent them. So Sony doing PC games, while necessary, isn't without risks, like fans badmouthing the PC ports or worse. They *are* legion and aren't bound by truth. (RDNA 3 PS5, anybody? Smoking XBIXes?)
    They are to be feared. A backlash could kill Sony. Microsoft, by contrast, has brought a few games to Nintendo, without fear.
    And not just Minecraft. They're not too proud to take money on the table. Software is not a zero sum game; the other players don't *have* to lose for you to win. You just have to grow the total pool of gamers.
  • It's always a vocal minority, though, just like the Epic Game Store naysayers, when in reality, EGS is doing very well: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-01-28-the-epic-games-store-is-ge... Do you remember Chad Warden? The memester from the 2006 PS3 era? That's literally what the so-called "legion" of Sony fanboys to be "feared" look and sound like in real life; I don't think Sony really cares what a bunch of low-income manchildren are ranting about on YouTube and Twitter.
  • As far as games are concerned, the obvious choices for me would be God of War, The Last of Us, Uncharted and Demon's Souls. If they did port GoW and Uncharted, I wonder whether they'd start with the most recent entries in the series or go back to the beginning. My guess would be the former as they might not get the reaction they would want from very old games unless they were genuinely remade.
  • Those are all backlist.
    What about new games, day and date?
    How'd that play out?
  • What does it actually prove? Xbox games are not cross platform. Xbox gametag aka Microsoft account is.
  • Non-gamer here! I just thought this story was interesting from an economics perspective. Sony is spinning this as a positive, but it's not really. It means they (or at least, the games that had been exclusive to PS) don't have the market power they thought they did. Platform exclusives are designed to drive adoption of the hardware. If that were the case, then making the game nonexclusive should hurt sales of the platform. But it didn't (at least for the games in question). So those games weren't doing the job of driving console sales. Poor Sony! Of course this doesn't mean the company as a whole is doing poorly - just that they don't have the market clout they may have thought they did.
  • We needs money.
    For games, games, games … ?
  • Play*S*tation.
    (Also Final Fantasy VII Remake for Windows when?!)