Horizon: Zero Dawn probably won’t be the last former PlayStation exclusive to make the jump to PC. In its 2020 corporate report published late last week, Sony says that it “will explore expanding our 1st party titles to the PC platform, in order to promote further growth in our profitability.”
The “explore” wording there is a little bit couched, suggesting that Sony still hasn’t completely made up its mind on the specifics of further PC game publishing. And the report doesn’t go into detail on which games, if any, Sony considers ripe for porting.
And even if Sony does continue publishing on PC, we shouldn’t necessarily expect major PlayStation titles to hit Steam on the same day as the coming PS5. In Horizon‘s case, Sony waited a full 1,256 days between the game’s February, 2017 launch on PS4 and its PC launch earlier this month.
Cracks in the walled garden
All that said, explicitly mentioning the potential for PC ports in its annual report is the latest sign that Sony’s continues to slowly loosen its tight, walled-garden approach to game hardware and software. In 2017, for instance, Sony expanded its PlayStation Now streaming service to work on Windows PCs as well as PS4 hardware. That service now has 2.2 million regular subscribers, Sony says, up significantly from the 1 million subscribers claimed last November.
In 2018, Sony finally opened PS4 titles to cross-platform online play with other consoles after years of public reluctance on that score. Then, earlier this year, Sony said MLB: The Show will come to non-PlayStation consoles as soon as 2021, after decades of PlayStation exclusivity.
It all speaks to a company that’s more aware that “competition from online PC games and players from other industries is expected to continue to intensify,” as it says in its annual report. Even as Sony pushes hard for the exclusive “speed, haptics, and sound” improvements of the upcoming PlayStation 5 this year, it is hedging its bets somewhat with support for non-Sony hardware as well.
Elsewhere in the annual report, Sony said it will “continue to invest in, or acquire, firms with abundant creativity and cutting-edge technologies to build up Worldwide Studios.” That follows on last year’s acquisition of Spider-Man developer Insomniac, the 14th distinct studio in Sony’s portfolio.
The PlayStation 4 has now sold 112.1 million units worldwide, Sony says, with 45 million users paying for a regular subscription to PlayStation Plus. Revenues and operating income for the Game & Network Services division were down for the 2019 fiscal year, though, due to a “decrease in game software sales [and the] negative impact of foreign exchange rates,” Sony said.