Why Microsoft’s PC Gaming Strategy Won’t Work For Sony And PlayStation 4

Why the argument that Sony should be putting their games on PC is fallacious.

Posted By | On 25th, Jun. 2016 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


In the wake of Microsoft’s announcement at E3 this year, and their commitment to PC gaming, so that each upcoming game in their catalog will now be put on PC too, I have seen a lot of rhetoric about what Microsoft’s move, which essentially means that the Xbox platform shall have no more true exclusives going forward, means for the console. Is the market for those who are interested in Microsoft’s games, but absolutely opposed to PC gaming, big enough to keep Xbox a viable platform? Does a move to being a part of a larger ‘ecosystem’ really bode well for the future of Xbox?

A lot has been written about this, and there are enough compelling arguments on both sides that the discussion is fated to remain relevant for a good while now. However, that is not what I wanted to talk about today. Today, instead, I wanted to follow a different line of reasoning that I have seen since Microsoft’s E3- there seems to be, you see, a small, but outspoken, group of PC players who believe that Microsoft’s move to PC marks the end of dedicated console gaming as we know it, and that Sony would, as a result, do well to start putting their exclusives on PC as well.

The arguments I usually hear are simple- those who wish to purchase a console to play their games will continue to purchase a PS4 to play Bloodborne or Uncharted, while others, who would like the best possible experience for their games, will simply purchase them on PC. What would be the harm here? Sony would be opening up their games to a much wider install base, and therefore stand to gain a lot in terms of software sales.

Xbox One Streaming to Windows 10

"There seems to be a small, but outspoken, group of PC players who believe that Microsoft’s move to PC marks the end of dedicated console gaming as we know it, and that Sony would, as a result, do well to start putting their exclusives on PC as well."

This argument, however, is fallaciously simplistic, and does not account for one very simple thing- Sony have no reason to put their games on PC. Microsoft making a move to consolidate their PC and Xbox gaming efforts makes sense from their perspective. They have to sell not just Xbox, but more importantly, at least to the company’s long term plans and future, they need Windows 10 to take root. They need their UWP initiative to take off. They need the Windows Store to become popular. The success of all of these is tied, in some part, to PC gaming. By putting their own games on PC, Microsoft may even in the short term be damaging the prospects of Xbox a little bit (although it is unclear if they are- maybe there is a substantial market for people interested in Microsoft’s games, but not interested in PC gaming in any capacity), but they are entrenching their long term strategy, bolstering and reinforcing it.

On the other hand, Sony gain nothing from putting their games on PC- Windows is not their OS. They don’t have an OS. By putting games on PC, Sony lose out on hardware sales they gain from sales of PS4 as a result of their exclusives, they lose out revenue, thanks to having to share it with whatever storefront they put their games on, they lose out on their own network and services revenue, because PS+ is no longer a necessity to play their games (and trying to have a paid subscription for video games on PC doesn’t work, as Games for Windows Live demonstrated), and finally, by losing hardware sales, their third party licensing revenues are diminished too. It’s a lose-lose situation for them all around.

The counter argument: they can make their own storefront on PC, and not necessarily put their games on Steam or Windows Store. And sure, they can do that. That still doesn’t address all the other loss of revenue they suffer. Even if they manage to not have to split revenue with a storeholder by having their own store, they do lose out on hardware revenue, they do lose out on network and services revenue, and they do lose out on third party licensing revenues, as a result of lower PS4 sales. It is hard to believe that revenue from increased sales thanks to a PC install base would be enough to cover all three of those other losses, especially now that Sony sell their hardware at a hefty profit. And unlike Microsoft, Sony can’t even justify the loss of immediate revenue by pointing to intangibles such as a long term gain- unlike Microsoft, Sony don’t have anything to gain by having their games on PC.

Bloodborne

"Sony gain nothing from putting their games, such as Bloodborne, on PC."

Another variant of this argument I often hear is that Sony should only put their games on PC after a few years- so, let Uncharted and Bloodborne be exclusive to PS4 for 3-4 years, and then put those games on PC after that. This line of thinking argues that these games will have already sold the bulk of consoles they are supposed to sell by this point- anyone interested in buying a PlayStation console to play these exclusives has done so 3-4 years down the line, and if they haven’t, then they are not likely to ever. So it is in Sony’s best interest to extract further revenue by putting those games on PC, and opening up a new line of revenue from them, long after the other lines of revenue mentioned above are exhausted.

This is a sounder argument than the previous one- but it is still fallacious. Simply because if one were to know that Sony’s games will be eventually coming to PC regardless, then there would be those people who would simply decide to wait it out a few years, and buy those games on PC, instead of buckling and buying a PS4 to play them. This would lead to the same problems as in the previous scenario- Sony lose out on revenue from hardware, licensing, and network and services.

And yes, there would be a substantial number of people who would opt to just wait. Unlike the bulk of console gaming, where sales and mindshare are ephemeral, PC gamers are content to wait for a game they want to play, rather than buying it right now, and playing it right now. Years of Steam sales, and late ports, serve as both evidence, and justification, for this- PC gamers won’t decide to spend an extra $400 to play Bloodborne now, when they can wait it out a few years, and just get it on PC, in a superior form (simply by virtue of the game being on PC) at that. And of course, all of this still sidesteps the central point: unlike Microsoft, Sony have nothing to gain by putting their games on PC. Unlike Microsoft, who would sacrifice some short term revenue for some long term gains, Sony would be gaining short term revenue, but sacrificing long term gains. Fewer and fewer people would be willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a new PlayStation if they knew that their favorite PlayStation exclusives were all going to end up coming to some other platform in a few years anyway. Sony would lose out on the integrity and halo of the PlayStation brand, and they would also end up with greatly diminished hardware and network related revenue in the process, especially since PlayStation is central to many non gaming related initiatives for Sony, such as TV, streaming, and network infrastructure.

ps4-amd

"Fewer and fewer people would be willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a new PlayStation if they knew that their favorite PlayStation exclusives were all going to end up coming to some other platform in a few years anyway."

But wait, some smartass reading this person says, rushing to the comments section to type out a retort furiously. Sony already are putting games on PC! Both, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Helldivers were put by them on Steam! Take that! It’s very clear none of my counterarguments seem to apply after all!

To which I only ave to say, hypothetical reader: if you really, truly, believe that Helldivers or Rapture were selling any PlayStation consoles, or that they have the same standing as a high budget, 90+ Metascore retail exclusive from From or Naughty Dog, then, my friend, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you.

There is a possibility that, many years into the future, there is no place for dedicated console hardware, and that at that point, Sony are forced to adopt a hardware agnostic strategy for their gaming initiatives- but if and when that time comes, then this will be a viable argument to make. As it stands right now, consoles are selling, and no company is gaining more from console sales than Sony is. They would be foolish to rock the boat right now.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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  • Jeffrey Byers

    *mistake. You should have said “fails to account” in the 4th paragraph.

    • chaz

      Got it, thanks! 🙂

  • lagann

    Sony putting their games on the pc is suicide lol. They have nothing to gain from it.

    This is also why ms’s idea of combining their console and pc ecosystems is such a good idea…they will be able to reach more players and their console competitors cant/wont do it.

  • Efrt

    Microsoft can crush PlayStation under the weight of PC and Xbox.

    Imagine if Xbox gets PC games when they’re released on PC. That’s like 3 times more games than offered by consoles now.

    • Tea

      how many ps4 exclusive comparing to x1 ?

      what sony did last e3 ?
      u know how many ps4 users?

      x1 is useless atm

      i prefer pc + ps4

    • Abba Okoro

      If you’re going by exclusives the Wii U is a better choice

  • Tea

    and still sony did good in last e3 with more exlusive
    i know some pc users think about getting ps4

  • Dotcum22

    So best combo to have is a pc with a x1 controller plus a ps4

    • Abba Okoro

      Why have a PS4? If for exclusives you need a Wii U

    • Tea

      Wii U is usefull more than Xone sure , but do not think about i leave ps4 for wii u sry
      Wii U is cool for jrpg old exclusive as wii games but to sad he is not supported by 3rd party like ps4
      And for ps4 u got many nice exclusive games that make a person have it

    • Dotcum22

      For ps4 exclusive games obviously… I dont like Nintendo games at all personally never have.

  • Vivid

    There’s a serious tone of consumerism here. I’ve got a final concept for this article. I love the gears of war series, love it. Have the collectors set for 360. I want the remake super bad. But it’s Xbox one only or Windows store. I can’t get it on steam and I refuse to buy an Xbox one, I got a ps4, I only need one console/blu ray player and I don’t need the clutter of yet another console in my media center. So, I’ve learned to live with not playing the remake. Because of their failure to get on the pc in an open manner (windows store is no different that buying an xbox, however steam or gog are great markets to hit) Xbox gets nothing, ms gets nothing. A sale is lost entirely because a major market was neglected. Adding the pc market makes sense now because Xbox melding the two will put pressure on Sony to compete for accessibility of content. The provider with the most readily available content will be in a key position to control the market if they can just put up high enough quality content. Smart phones are expected to catch up with current consoles in the next 16 months or so with current ARM technology, so whoever can provide the the most contiguous and universal platform support will also have a serious advantage. By ignoring pc Sony denies a growing market but even more displays they’ll probably miss the mobile boat too. So while Xbox players will have halo 6 on console, pc and mobile, Sony/Nintendo players will be stuck at their console. Parity platform releases, no. Console first, pc year later or more. Also I believe console exclusive content should stay console exclusive to entice pc players to get the cosole, however I’ve seen exclusive content severely alienate and spurn consumers hurting repeat business.

  • Brian

    regardless if you buy xbox games or not, if you buy the software for pc, your still supporting MS and xbox….THANKS!

    • Norman Feetus

      who cares? lol. you don’t need an xone to play all the “exclusives” that’s the point..i swear you xbox fanboys & your profit/support argument…

    • Abba Okoro

      I see so Wii U is the better console when it comes to exlusives(since they have the most) so ouch looks like you don’t care about exclusives either

    • Norman Feetus

      Nintendo is irrelevant, i’m not interested in Mario etc, they need New ips….don’t know why you even bring them up lol.

    • Brian

      then don’t buy it, if your not gonna buy it, then why do you care?

  • XbotMK1

    You are a delusional to assume Sony couldn’t create their own digital store on PC. Sony is a much larger company than Valve. If Valve can do, what in your delusional mind makes you think Sony couldn’t? Sony and maybe even Nintendo would probably even have success unlike Microsoft because Microsoft has the least popular games, and gamers simply don’t like Microsoft and rightfully so. Sony doesn’t make much, if any at all on PlayStation hardware but the reason why Sony doesn’t do it is because they don’t need to and it would cannibalize PlayStation consoles.

    Releasing consoles exclusives on PC is dumb for many reasons. It damages the console install base because hardcore PC players have no reason to buy the console which makes developers less inclined to make games for the console. It also hurts Xbox console fans who are now intermingled with PC gamers who have access to cheats and hacks. But the reason why Microsoft is doing it is because…

    A. They lost in the console space and their first party games are flopping so they’re relying on PC gamers to prop up the poor sales of Xbox games. The only Xbox One title that probably hasn’t completely flopped is Halo 5 and Halo 5 is the only one that hasn’t released on PC. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Why do you think Microsoft offers Xbox owners a free PC copy but doesn’t offer PC owners a free Xbox copy which they easily could? Because Microsoft think PC gamers are dumb enough to fall for it and rush out to buy an Xbox which they don’t need.

    B. Microsoft only cares about keeping everyone locked into their garbage Windows operating system. Xbox only exists as a PlayStation clone to keep developers and consumers on Direct X which locks everyone into their Windows operating system where Microsoft can ram a big greenie weenie up your rear without resistance like they’ve been doing for decades. But now Microsoft is fighting a battle on two fronts. PlayStation dominates consoles and now Steam dominates PC which scares Microsoft. When PlayStation came into the picture, Microsoft copied it with Xbox. Then Steam came into the picture and Microsoft copied it with Games for Windows Live. So releasing their first party games on PC is Microsoft’s desperate attempt at drawing players from Steam.

    Releasing games on PC is simply the only logical choice for Microsoft but not for good reasons. It is a bad thing for Xbox as a console or Xbox console fans.

    • chaz

      The article outright states that Sony could create their own store, and then says that that still doesn’t help with all the other problems:

      “The counter argument: they can make their own storefront on PC, and not necessarily put their games on Steam or Windows Store. And sure, they can do that. That still doesn’t address all the other loss of revenue they suffer.”

      Actually reading the article before jumping to the comments section can help.

    • Abba Okoro

      Windows garbage? Good luck PC gaming lmao

    • Skorge

      Sony couldn’t offer a “Play anywhere” program where you get the game on PC and PS4, also Forza and Killer Instinct both sold well and are on PC.

      Your hate for Microsoft is extremely unhealthy, and people wonder why the Playstation fanbase is considered the most delusional and toxic fanbase out there.

  • What seems to be fallacious is the premise of this article. Few PC gamers, including myself, will go out of their way to purchase PS4 just to play a few exclusive titles, when there are so many top quality games on Steam and other distribution platforms.

    On the other hand, I would buy Bloodborne, if it came to PC. So the decision to make Bloodborne exclusive translates into pure loss of sales – in my case, and as I am sure, in case of many others. I will always prefer PC gaming, because it simply provides superior experience (framerates, resolution, modding), and I can afford it. There is no reason for me to own a new gen console, and Bloodborne won’t change anything about the fact.

    People will keep buying consoles as long as they represent the most convenient alternative – that mostly means being cheap and comfortable to use (i.e. no technical knowledge required whatsoever).


 

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