Former Sony executive speaks out on efforts to bring PlayStation hits to PC
Sony has a long history of keeping its first-party games behind the walled garden of console exclusivity.
So the company’s choice to bring its PS4 hit Horizon Zero Dawn at the PC in August 2020 looked like a move away from this barrier to entry that would change the previous ones. This represented a seismic change for a publisher protecting its wide array of console exclusives.
But as former Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Shawn Layden says, adopting a more open strategy to port proprietary titles to PC was actually an easy decision.
Speaking on the latest episode of the What’s Up PlayStation podcast, Layden, who left Sony in October 2019, said he was among many who were considering adopting a PC initiative shortly before his retirement. Following Horizonlaunch of in 2020, Days Gone hit the platform earlier this year. Meanwhile, Sony has followed a Unexplored 4 leaked in May with an announcement during its September PS5 showcase that next year The unexplored legacy of thieves Collection will arrive on PC shortly after the launch of its console. (Death stranding was also transferred in July 2020, with 505 sets on publishing rights.)
Layden’s plans boiled down to one question: How could Sony attract new customers who weren’t already console fans? PC owners offered a pool of new players that was easy to attract.
The strategy as we were developing it when I was there was that we had to go where these new customers are, where these new fans could be. We have to go where they are … Because they decided not to come to my house, so I have to go to their place now. And what’s the best way to get to them? Why not grab one of our best selling games?
The gap between HorizonThe launch of on PS4 in February 2017 and a PC release was a key part of the idea, he said. “It’s been around for 18 or 24 months already, there is no real retail activity against this title,” he said, referring to his thinking at the end of 2019.
Layden also doesn’t think Sony will commit to simultaneously releasing on console and PC for its proprietary games. So far, it has to do with Sony’s external strategy. In a June interview on the Playstation blog, current SIE chairman Hermen Hulst said, following Horizon, the company was still “planning” on how to approach the platform for the future. Sony’s own consoles, he added, would likely remain the only way to play the new PlayStation Studios exclusives “at launch.”
Sticking to Layden’s ideas, Hulst pointed out that Days Gone launched on PC about two years after its release on PS4.
“We value PC gamers and will continue to look for the right times to launch every game,” he said.
What happens next?
Sony also appeared to be committing to the idea of bringing more of its first-party roster with its recent acquisition of Nixxes, a studio specializing in the PC port for developers like Eidos-Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. So far, however, Sony has not announced what Nixxes might be working on. (The Legacy of Thieves Collection the port is managed by former Sony studio Adam Boyes, Iron Galaxy.) Sony is stepping up serious consideration of the PC isn’t even the craziest thing it’s done recently, either, after the PlayStation exclusive MLB The Show 21 landed on Xbox platforms in April.
Where does that leave Sony’s PC plans for the next calendar year? Judging by its latest PS4 tentpole exclusives, it’s a safe bet that something from its 2020 catalog will be in the cards. Our money is on Ghost of Tsushima, which was a major success in its original 2020 incarnation. Sony may maintain an exclusive print run for Ghosts if he chooses to keep the recent director’s cut content from the PS4 and PS5 locked on those versions, as will remain the case with the PS5 Death Stranding Director’s Cup. Given the relative popularity of Sony franchises across the board, however, anyone can guess which one might be chosen next.
There is, however, no reason not to maintain the strategy, Layden said. Some PC gamers who decide to check out Horizon Where Days Gone will even take a PS5 after doing it, he explained.
“They might not have had it otherwise,” he said. “There is no loss in this transaction. It allows people to get a glimpse into the PlayStation world.”