Microsoft melted the web with its Quantum Break announcements yesterday. Unfortunately for Remedy, the forthcoming time-shifting affair got nudged to the side, as platform politics ruled the day. For those of you that missed it, the Redmond firm confirmed that the release would be coming to the PC day-and-date with the Xbox One. Those that pre-order the game will get both versions for free. Not a big deal, right?
A slew of outspoken Twitter members used the opportunity to bombard boss Phil Spencer with angry messages about the move. The reason for the outrage is a bit muddled, but it seems to centre upon the following points: Microsoft sold the Xbox One on the strength of Quantum Break's exclusivity, only for it to change its mind; Xbox One is becoming less important to the company's long-term plans; Xbox One fans are really going to start losing list wars now.
Spencer, to his credit, responded thoughtfully, alluding that both Xbox One and Windows 10 are the company's priority at the moment. And amid the backlash, there were a handful that welcomed the news, and started talking about how Sony should follow suit. But will we see Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Horizon: Zero Dawn on the Steam marketplace soon? The answer, of course, is a resounding no – and it doesn't matter how much port begging you do.
The difference between Microsoft and Sony is that the former has an operating system to flog. Xbox, whether people want to see it or not, is becoming more and more about selling people on the Windows 10 experience – it's not just a console anymore. PlayStation, on the other hand, doesn't really have a horse in the PC race – it sold off Sony Online Entertainment not too long ago and also stopped manufacturing Vaio laptops.
And so, this idea that the Japanese giant should bring its games to the PC is already flawed. Of course, those of you with your ears to the ground will know that it's actually published titles on Steam before: Helldivers was released by a subsidiary named PlayStation Mobile, while Everybody's Gone to the Rapture looks likely to follow the same path. But these were made by second-party teams, and the promise of a later PC release probably convinced the indie developers to sign on the dotted line.
So why allow those games to go to PC and not the exclusive blockbusters? Well, because for Sony, its first-party output acts as a sort of advertisement for the PS4. Titles like Bloodborne exist to sell consoles, and while exclusives are waning ever so slightly in importance, it's licensing fees and subscriptions where platform holders make money. If a game like The Last Guardian helps to move a few boxes, then it's worth the investment, because it helps introduce people to the ecosystem.
And, we suspect, Microsoft see things the same way, but there's one key difference: it wants to drive people to the Xbox One and Windows 10 store. Is there a risk that it could end up spreading itself too thin? Potentially – but it strikes us that neither company is enormously worried about the threat that PCs propose. At the end of the day, consoles are all about convenience, and while the position of platforms like Steam may be strengthening, they're still very much the domain of a vocal minority.
So, ultimately, Sony may be willing to let Capcom put Street Fighter V on the PC if it helps to seal the console exclusive deal – it's better that than the game not existing at all. But while it's perhaps not offended by the idea, it doesn't have a horse in the PC race; unlike Microsoft, pouring resources into an Uncharted 4: A Thief's End port would not help its corporate cause.
And for that reason, you should probably stop waiting for Sony's biggest games to show up on Steam.
Do you think that Sony should start releasing its games on PC? Do you agree with the article that PlayStation has nothing to gain from putting its biggest titles on Steam? Continue the debate in the comments section below.