Opinion: Sony’s PS4 Exclusives Are Coming to PC and That’s A Good Thing
This week saw the revival of new port rumors of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the first-party developed title that remained exclusive to the PlayStation 4 and only playable on that system (unless you happen to have a PS Now subscription). These kinds of rumors seem to pop up more and more often this console generation than ever before. With Microsoft's big push to unify their gaming library between Xbox and PC by way of Xbox Play Anywhere and the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, it would only make sense for their competition to follow a similar route with regards to exclusives.
These consoles are no longer the walled gardens that they once were before the rise of the Internet. Cross-play is popping up in all sorts of titles lately. Sure, it used to just be a random selection of PS4/PC, XB1/PC, XB1/Switch, but now we're seeing experiences that bridge the divide across all devices, thanks in no small part to Epic Games and their big push made with Fortnite.
If the Horizon Zero Dawn rumors are to be believed, we should be seeing Aloy's adventures arrive on PC later this year. For fans with even modestly powerful machines, achieving more than the checkerboard 4K at 30FPS seen on the PS4 Pro should be doable. With another Decima Engine title (Death Stranding) officially making its way to PC later this year, it isn't out of the question to see the enhancements and optimizations that Kojima Productions has been working on making their way into the Guerilla Games-developed adventure.
With consoles, you're limited by the hardware of one, perhaps two models in the case of the PlayStation 4 Pro, and limited by the strength of that console. Many of the optimizations we see from the first reveal to release are geared to make up for the midrange spec of consoles: resolutions that aren't standard, 'cinematic' 25 FPS gameplay, draw distances no longer than a suburban driveway, all of that. But it isn't enough to just have a desire to bring your exclusives to another platform; you're going to need a development staff that knows how to take advantage of the insanely diverse range of builds and PC components to make the most out of PC hardware and I'm not just talking about adding in ray tracing or higher framerates.
I can understand the need not to bring a PS4 game to another platform at the same time. After all, if you aren't a studio that's experienced with shipping on multiple platforms, especially on such a diverse ecosystem like PC, that process can be daunting. Without a team that's knowledgeable and dedicated to taking advantage of PC's higher specs, you're often stuck with ports that underdeliver or otherwise piss off the fans. It's part of why I respect the work that Durante does to help Japanese studios with getting their games up and running at more than just a locked 720p30 experience.
Now, I'm a PlayStation trophy hunter who rather enjoys the silly endorphin rush of unlocking a difficult trophy or putting a game down once I unlock the platinum trophy and never returning again. It's the main reason why I don't see myself drawn as much towards playing the same games on an Xbox One X or even taking them on the go with the Nintendo Switch. Even the Steam achievement system doesn't quite do it for me, but you know what? I've put this silly hunt behind me for certain titles on PC. When you have titles like Control or Monster Hunter World that simply look better and run smoother than their console counterparts, it's hard to turn them down. I've only recently gotten back into PC gaming on the side for titles that I'm not already playing or reviewing on PlayStation 4 and the difference is night and day when it comes to a really strong PC port. As long as developers can continue to utilize that stronger hardware and don't limit themselves to achieving parity with consoles, the platform should continue to flourish and grow.
If console exclusives are going to continue to make their way onto PC, developers and publishers need to continue to take the platform seriously and take advantage of the powerful hardware. There are only so many Durantes in the world that can make these games into an experience worth playing on PC. Still, when that's the case, it is mighty fine to have options as to where a game can be played.