This current generation of gaming consoles is one of the industry’s most interesting yet. No, not because of the games, but because of everything else. This would include physical hardware and its focus on high-res graphical fidelity coupled with game streaming, distribution diversity, and IP flexing. Yet, what I want to talk about today is something that could affect not this generation but future generations. Microsoft has long since given up the idea of console exclusives. Their first party titles can not only be accessed through PC as well, but to make it even easier you can do so through Game Pass. While Sony offers no such ease, they do seem to be investing more into the PC market. They have their own Steam page as well their acquisition of a studio that specializes in porting games to PC. They’ve been doing it for a while, but lately it’s stirred some conversation.
The first game Sony ported to PC was Helldivers back in 2015. I can’t say whether Helldivers did well, but it must have done enough to get Sony’s attention since they then released Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture in 2016 and Gun’s Up in 2018. The first time Sony’s moves made a stir was when they decided to put Horizon: Zero Dawn onto PC. That was one of their AAA games and the first time the Sony faithful cared about the port. It was discredited as a desperate cash grab, but the numbers spoke . On PS4, it sold over 20 million copies and on PC it sold another 2.39 million. It was more than a simple cash grab. For Sony, this could be a whole new revenue stream. Now with Spider Man out on PC and Uncharted on the way, people have begun to wonder if having a PlayStation is worth it. Hell, if even having a console is worth it.
Now, I have both PC and consoles. Each category brings something to consumers that they value. That much will always be true. So long as the choice exists, both will always be bought. The question is though, why buy a console if these days the best reason is exclusives? Some argue that these ports diminish the value of the games and some say that they make the need for a console null. I disagree. The deciding factor for whether there’s still value in consoles for you is patience. Ports do not reduce the value of the original work. If anything, ports help bolster the sales of games and show a publisher the interest in that game franchise on a different platform. It doesn’t always guarantee that another port will happen, but it increases the likelihood. Not to mention, the sales made on PC are not missed sales of the PlayStation. Let’s use Horizon: Zero Dawn for example. They sold 20 million copies on PS4 and 2.39 million on PC. Those 2.39 million aren’t lost sales for the PS4. If anything, those are 2.39 million people who either weren’t going to buy it or (like me) bought it on both platforms because they wanted to have a different experience. I bought it to play it at 60 fps, something you can’t get on PS4. No matter what the reason though, PC sales do not affect PS4 sales.
The other thing to consider is time. Both God of War and Spider Man were ported to the PC 4 years after their PS4 release. FOUR. YEARS. In that time frame, most PS players have played and beaten that game. The sales for those games 4 years after had to be miniscule. So what did Sony do? They released it to a new market that either had no interest in Playstation to begin with or wanted a new experience. There have yet to be any solid sales numbers for Spider-Man yet, but God of War so far has sold 971k copies on PC. That’s nothing at all to sneeze at. That’s almost a million sales Sony wouldn’t have had otherwise. It didn’t make the PS4 less worth it nor did it reveal some revelation about PS4 exclusives. It was a 4 year window and Sony wanted more money.
In the end, putting games on PC doesn’t hurt anyone or anything. Sony makes more money and developers get to have more people play the games they worked so hard for. Though I will say that these ports have exposed some real clowns in the console space. I’ve never seen such a rabid group of people upset that so many people can now experience what they did without having to buy a console like they did. While the console market doesn’t seem to be changing, the console wars seem to be shifting…for Sony, anyway. Microsoft fans have long since let this go. In the end, it’s a pointless battle. Sony has seen that the PC is an untapped market that could make them a decent amount of money. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Sony released ports day and date with the PC.
As for the idea that these ports diminish the value of the original game? Well. God of War for PS4 can be bought brand new for $20. God of War on PC is $50. I don’t think any value is lost here. Time itself diminishes the value of a game, and let me remind you that it’s been 4 years. If you’re the sort of person who thinks that YOUR experience with the game is affected by a whole other platform playing your game, then you’re wrong and have some weird views of how this stuff works.
In conclusion, PC ports don’t have anything to do with the console market. They can exist alongside them, even. If you don’t think so, then look at Microsoft and how well their games do. Never once have they had a problem with sales on both platforms. Whether it affects the worth of a console is up to the consumer base. But the availability of these games on PC doesn’t do anything. Most of the people who play on PC were always going to, regardless of the games. The same can be said about most console gamers. The only weird thing about all this is how ready people are to gatekeep a game. That all said, Sony. When can we expect Bloodborne on PC?