Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Console exclusivity is slowly coming to an end

Console Exclusivity! The phrase evokes pride in your console of choice - if you get the exclusive but sometimes envy in those who devote themselves to a rival console. I mean PlayStation users would probably like to play Gears of War and Xbox players yearn for God of War? Right? I wouldn't really know, I'm a PC player and can play both like a boss!!

Console exclusivity is practised to varying degrees by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to maintain interest in their respective console offerings. Super Mario is only available on the Nintendo's consoles. Sony keep Gran Turismo firmly on PlayStation. No Halo game has has a red or blue box, it's always Xbox green. Console exclusivity usually means exclusivity to that particular console however; it doesn't always mean that the console itself is the only platform the game is for; there is of course the PC port.

Console games getting a PC port down the line isn't anything new. I first obtained a PC port of the PS1 title The Die Hard Trilogy as a present in 1997. It was awesomely shit and barely held my interest for a day. It was such nonsense in comparison to any real PC game I ever played that it put me off console ports for years. It wasn't until 2003 when former Xbox exclusive Splinter Cell was released that I changed my mind as it was awesome and unlike any game I played before.

I pretty much dismiss Nintendo as the "kiddie console" but it's a moot point as Nintendo have always completely ignored the PC. Microsoft has obviously continued to support the PC by supporting Windows versions of the majority of their Xbox games (ensuring that gamers stick to the Windows OS of course) so I have access to the vast majority of Xbox "exclusives". My only real source for any measure of console envy was really for PlayStation. I'd have liked to have played some Metal Gear Solid or SOCOM games back in the day and I remember being dismayed that Quantic Dream announced their future output exclusivity with PlayStation back at the beginning of the 2010's. Times have changed though and it seems now that the days of hard PlayStation exclusivity are coming to an end.

In 2019 Quantic Dream released PC ports of it's PlayStation game catalogue. A year later 2020 Hideo Kojima's Sony funded PS4 game Death Stranding's PC port was released. While both were welcome, and they were not the first games to be developed in conjunction with Sony to be released on PC but they were signalling a massive shift in Sony's focus. Also in 2020 the unprecedented happened: a PC release of a tentpole first-party Sony studio developed PS4 game Horizon: Zero Dawn was both announced and released! Additionally, Sony also announced in it's earnings report: "We will explore expanding our first-party titles to the PC platform, in order to promote further growth in our profitability." 

Since then Sony have aggressively marketed and ported several more of their first-party games to the PC including Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, God of War, Days Gone and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection among others. It seems that there will be an ongoing effort to support the PC with additional titles going forward. Sony themselves predict about half their new releases will be made available for the PC by 2025 with live service games specifically singled out as having near same-day releases with the goal of properly establishing their communities.  For now, Returnal has just released some days ago at time of writing, The Last of Us Part I will release on March 28th. Ghost of Tsushima is only rumoured for now but I'd expect and announcement about God of War: Ragnarok and The Last of Us Part II before year's end.

Are Nintendo even needed on the PC now? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would be welcome. It also has a sequel, Tears of the Kingdom in development to be released in May. Perhaps the time has come for Shuntaro Furukawa to take a look at Sony's PC success and rethink his company's posture?

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