Is Death Stranding coming to PC or not? Let's examine the evidence

Death Stranding is coming to PS4 this November, but for a long time, people have wondered if it's coming to PC, too. This isn't completely ill-founded—while we haven't covered the game lately because a PC version hasn't been mentioned, back in 2015, when Sony teamed up with Kojima Productions, a PC version of its then-untitled project was mentioned by a representative of Sony itself. 

With the release date confirmed in a baffling trailer this week (see above), the idea of Death Stranding on PC has become a subject of intense discussion once again, for a few different reasons. 

Most recently, Antonio Fucito, who seemed to call the PS4 release date for Death Stranding ahead of its reveal, had discussed a possible PC version on Twitch. This was translated on Resetera, and yesterday it was circulating as another piece of evidence that a PC version exists, and will be released some time after the console versions. Fucito later made it clear that he was speculating based on existing information, however:

That's a bust, then. The continued ambiguity around the game coming to PC stretches all the way back to 2015—let's examine what was said then, and why some players firmly believe it's not just a PlayStation exclusive. 

Death Stranding on PC was technically first mentioned, before the game had a name, back in 2015

All the way back in December 2015, when Sony and Kojima Productions first teamed up, and when we didn't even know the name 'Death Stranding', a now-deleted Medium Q&A from Sony was circulated that mentioned the project would come to PC (these reports from the time captured that information). "The title is planned to become available on PC (after PS4)." The same information is archived here. The source was a PlayStation EU Community Manager. This is where all official information on a PC version ends, as far as I can tell. 

One year later, in December 2016 at PlayStation Experience, it was announced that Kojima Productions was working with Amsterdam-based in-house Sony studio Guerrilla Games to make Death Stranding, after a tech-focused tour that apparently happened in early 2016. The game would use Guerrilla's Decima engine, which Horizon: Zero Dawn was created with. 

This is where arguments about what happened to the PC version begin: what effect would making the game with Sony-owned technology have on the game coming to PC, as had been alluded to a year earlier? This is what no one seems to know, and Sony, naturally, has no reason to clarify that the game is still coming to PC, since Death Stranding will probably shift a lot of PS4s this holiday season. (Side note: Wired's piece on Sony's next console suggests Death Stranding is also coming to PS5, based on its conversation with Mark Cerny). 

This currently very popular post on r/pcgaming called 'Daily reminder that Death Stranding is still coming to PC', references the Medium Q&A above, and quotes this: "As a gesture of goodwill, Guerrilla gifted Kojima with a box containing the source code of their then-unnamed in-house engine, with no contractual obligations attached." As far as I can tell, this text is from the Death Stranding wiki, the source of which is the video below. If you watch it (start at around 23:55), "no contractual obligations attached" isn't actually what Kojima says. 

"Before making any contracts or anything they just gave me this", his translator says, referring to Guerrilla's engine source code being presented to him on a USB drive. The Reddit post suggests that this is evidence that the original deal Sony made with Kojima Productions in 2015—when a PC version of the project was said to exist—didn't change.

"If you disagree, you need to answer the question, when would the deal have changed?" the posts says. "The game was being funded by them from the beginning. The Decima engine was given to Kojima Productions no strings attached meaning no amended contract. Are people really suggesting that Kojima signed a new contract that essentially locked him into being a first party studio for as long as he uses the engine they gave him as a gift?" 

Except to me, "Before making any contracts" suggests that yes, contracts probably had to be made afterwards—between the mention of a PC version in 2015 and the decision to collaborate with Guerrilla and use its technology. Personally, I think the whole thing is just a cute anecdote. From what Kojima says here, we're none the wiser as to what effect this might have on a possible PC version.

All Kojima Productions and Sony have to do to clear this up is to tell people either way

We have no idea what deal Kojima Productions made with Sony, but it's clear that development of Death Stranding requires at least some of the console manufacturer's in-house resources. The collaboration between Guerrilla and Kojima Productions has been described as "intense" by Michiel Van De Leeuw, technical director at the Horizon developer, with daily conversations between the studios. I'm not saying that this rules out the game coming to PC, and I take the point that Quantic Dream's PlayStation games eventually releasing on PC suggests there's some wiggle room in exclusivity. I'm just saying we can't be sure there are no conditions to Kojima Productions using Decima to make Death Stranding. 

That said, the Reddit post makes an interesting point about how Death Stranding hasn't always been marketed as a PlayStation exclusive. The promotional art for pre-ordering the digital deluxe edition doesn't say that, for example:

By comparison, on Spider-Man and Days Gone's similar marketing materials for digital deluxe versions of the games, you can definitely see 'Only on PlayStation' on the box art. An explanation for this, though, could be that the box art for Death Stranding just isn't ready yet, which is where the 'only on PlayStation' logo would appear—the finished box art is unlikely to be a logo on a black background. It's also worth saying that Detroit: Become Human, now coming to PC, says 'Only on PlayStation' on every boxed copy, which would eventually not be the case. It could just be that the messaging of such things is inconsistent.

The Reddit post also points to this old press release calling Death Stranding a 'PS4 console exclusive', but that could just be clunky wording. Again, I see why people have latched on to any instance of ambiguity—but there is at least one major moment where 'only on PlayStation' has been used to promote Death Stranding. Its E3 2018 trailer has an ident saying as such right at the start. That's pretty damn prominent. 

This post also points to Sony not including Death Stranding as part of its 'Only On PlayStation' campaign, when other games that are further away from release like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part 2 made the cut. There could be other reasons for this, though: maybe there's a different marketing plan for Death Stranding, given that Kojima himself directed the latest trailer, which suggests he has a lot of control over how the game is marketed generally. Again, the game's absence from this campaign can't be taken as contributing evidence that a PC version still exists to me—though I agree it's an odd oversight. 

I've reached out to Sony UK for comment on whether or not Death Stranding is coming to PC, mentioning some of the points above, and I'll update this page if it comes back to me. I completely get why people still believe the game is coming to PC, though—the wording back in 2015, even if it was deleted quickly, seemed pretty clear. But then, using 'only on PlayStation' in an E3 trailer released just last year sends a pretty strong message.  

I have nothing against a bit of optimism. But for now, I'm not holding my breath.