Sony exclusives on PC would destroy the PlayStation
The start of a new
generation is always a dangerous one for games companies. Even if you
dominated previously you have to begin with a blank slate and build up
everything, except your reputation, from zero. Or at least that's how it
used to work. In this coming generation both Microsoft and Sony are
promising full backwards compatibility, which despite decades of
evidence that nobody really cares about it, Microsoft has managed to
turn into a talking point and must-have feature.
Now it seems likely that there won't be PlayStation 5 remasters but instead patches, that upgrade PlayStation 4 games to look better on the new machine. Just as happens with Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. That is a great advantage to Sony though, as their back catalogue of exclusive games is vastly better than Microsoft's and one of the main reasons why the PlayStation 4 has been so successful. And now they're throwing it all away.
They are just rumours at the moment but multiple sources have suggested that big name games such as The Last Of Us Part 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn are going to be released on PC. If games that big, and recent, are going to make the jump then it stands to reason most or all of the PlayStation's exclusives will be doing the same. And I have no idea why.
The obvious answer is so that they'll make more money but at what cost? Of making the PlayStation consoles obsolete? A good PC is already more powerful than a PlayStation so if the console has no exclusives then what exactly is the point? A high spec PC is, of course, more expensive, but on the other hand the games are cheaper and the ability to upgrade works out cheaper in the long run. Bringing exclusives to the PC will encourage people to get a PC and discourage them to get a PlayStation.
The idea makes even less sense when you take into account Project xCloud and whatever Sony's equivalent will be. Microsoft doesn't care whether people buy their consoles or not as it wants them to subscribe to Game Pass and make most of its money via that. Game Pass is already a great success and good value for money despite the lack of major exclusives. In the next generation Microsoft are effectively giving up on the console wars because they've lost three times in a row, and that makes sense for them. But Sony are in the opposite position.
I'm wary of
Microsoft's attitude to xCloud and Game Pass but I can see why they had
to make those decisions. Sony doesn't need to and by undermining the
purpose and appeal of consoles they are not only putting themselves at
risk (Microsoft has much bigger pockets when it comes to making Game
Pass dirt cheap) but causing an early end to console gaming in general.
Streaming, according to Microsoft themselves, will not be mainstream for
many years, given the limits of current broadband technology, so we
need hardware for the next generation at least. For a while now
Microsoft and Sony's consoles have been just PCs in a box, with mild
customisation to the chips, but in the next generation I fail to see
what benefit there is at all in getting a console. With a PC you will
get better performance and exclusives from both companies.
Instead of choosing whether you want The Last Of Us Part 2 or Halo
Infinite you now get to have them both on the same format. That alone is
worth a little extra initial outlay. No wonder Microsoft doesn't deem
exclusives that important anymore. There are much easier ways to make
Game Pass seem attractive than spending money on making games that may
or may not turn out well. And buying up a bunch of second-rate
developers last year shows how relatively unimportant they deem it.
My concern is that Sony will start seeing things the same way and then we'll have no consoles and no high quality exclusives. Remember how Netflix and Amazon started out trying to make themselves standout with expensive, high quality shows and now 99% of it is just low quality trash? I fear that's the future of gaming in the next generation and I have no idea why Sony would want it to happen.