When Sony announced that Horizon Zero Dawn would arrive on PC in March 2020, it buried the news in the second paragraph of an interview with director of global PlayStation studios Hermen Hulst. Sony wasn't screaming about its new PC support – in fact, it seemed so sensitive to the potentially strong reactions from its user base that people had to go get the ad.
“And to put some spirits at ease, releasing a AAA first-game title on PC doesn't necessarily mean that every game will come to PC now,” said Hulst. “In my mind, Horizon Zero Dawn was just a good choice in this particular case.”
Unlike Microsoft, which has introduced each of its exclusive Xbox One games on PC since 2016, Hulst has confirmed that there are no day and date release plans on PC.
It's logic. Microsoft is clearly encouraged to publish its games on Windows 10 and the console simultaneously. Among them is Xbox Game Pass for PC, a tailor-made service for PC gamers that offers many PC-only games. Bringing people into this ecosystem, spending monthly fees to access a range of games, is an important part of Xbox strategy.
Sony Is have PlayStation Now on PC, but it's a streaming-based service. Horizon will be a full PC port. Sony does not have the same incentive to release its games simultaneously as Microsoft – which is why it will probably never happen. He mainly makes games to sell PlayStation equipment.
Instead, the experience probably relates to sales and player reaction. As Hulst says, Horizon – with a combat system that relies on precise use of a bow and arrow – seems to be a good choice for PC, especially when you think about the potential of mouse and keyboard control and how amazing the game will be over 30fps.
“[Releasing] PlayStation games on PC are a betrayal for people who support PlayStation from PS1. There is no longer any reason to buy a console, “said a Twitter user in response to the news. Honestly, however, the reaction has not really been this exaggerated, unless you've gone to the usual irrational corners of the internet for bad shots.
That's because it's hard to see a downside to this popular PS4 exclusive hopping on PC three years after the fact. It actually seems like a pretty good compromise. Horizon Zero Dawn has been shrunk so frequently on PlayStation Store since its release that anyone who wanted to play it on PS4 has had the opportunity. The value of being exclusive has been preserved, and the game has probably done its job in helping to sell consoles, given that 10 million copies of Horizon have been moved.
It's not the only PlayStation game to try that either. Death Stranding, a PS4 game released by Sony but developed independently, arrives on PC on July 14. Quantic Dream Detroit's games: Becoming Human, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls have all also been released for PC, having previously been exclusive to PlayStation.
Sony doesn't have much to lose by bringing its PS4 games to PC. He should do the same with his PS5 exclusive games. This process does not need to be rushed – if it takes years to get there, due to the sensitivity of the public, then too bad. If the end result is an excellent PC port with detailed graphics settings, and the game has already sold a ton of consoles, why not? For Sony, it's another way to monetize big budget games designed to sell dedicated hardware.
Horizon Zero Dawn on PC sounds like an experience, but it is hopefully the beginning of something. For PC gamers, this sounds like the continuation of a long-standing trend.
When the console classics arrive on PC
Over the past decade, PC gamers have had the chance to see many console classics making their way to Steam and other services. In many cases also, it took long wait for these games to arrive.
The Yakuza series, for example, started on PS2 in 2005 and finally arrived on PC in August 2018 from Yakuza 0. We saw many late PC console game ports, from Final Fantasy 15 to Vanquish or Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. Most recently, of course, we've seen Halo: Master Chief Collection bring a payload of classic FPS titles to PC.
Most third-party publishers now publish games on PC and consoles simultaneously, although this has not always been the case.
For PC gamers, it has been exciting to see this trend emerge. At the start of the latest generation of consoles, before Microsoft made a commitment to bring extended backward compatibility to the Xbox One, it seemed that the two manufacturers had lost interest in letting players transfer their old games to new hardware. That meant PC gaming was the way to go if you wanted to buy a game and be more or less certain that you could play it in 10 years.
Backward compatibility seems more important at the beginning of the PS5 and Xbox Series X generation, the two consoles supporting it to different degrees. But the value of adding classic console games to your Steam library has not diminished.
This is why it is so innovative to see an exclusive PlayStation game coming to PC, even if it is years old. And that's why Sony should incorporate the PC versions into its future plans for the PS4 and PS5 titles, even if they don't come out simultaneously – the excitement of seeing the console classics land on PC will never go away.