Sony hopes PC gamers, who'll wait years for Epic exclusives to come to Steam out of spite, will buy PS5s for exclusive sequels

Hermen Hulst, managing director and co-founder of Guerrilla Games, speaks during a Sony Corp. event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Monday, June 15, 2015.
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sony's policy toward PC has shifted noticeably over the last few years. The publisher has gradually been bringing more of its exclusive titles to PC, and more recently, launching games like Helldivers 2 concurrency on PC and PS5. Now, the company's soon-to-be co-CEO Hermen Hulst has outlined the whys and wherefores of its current strategy, and how we can expect them to approach releases in the future.

Speaking at this year's Sony Business Briefing, Hulst explained that Sony has a "dual approach" to game releases. "On the live-service side, we're releasing our titles simultaneously, so day-and-date on PS5 and PC," he explained. But with the publisher's "tentpole titles" (big budget singleplayer games like God of War and Horizon: Forbidden West) Hulst says they take a more "strategic approach" with the goal of introducing their "great franchises to new audiences". Hulst doesn't say how they approach this, but he presumably means releasing them as PlayStation exclusives first, and onto PC later.

What he does explain, however, is what he hopes Sony will get out of this. 

"We're finding new audiences that are potentially going to be very interested in playing, for example, sequels on the PlayStation platform," he said. "We have high hopes that we're actually able to bring new players into PlayStation at large, but into PlayStation platforms specifically."

In short, Sony hopes that if you really dug, say, God of War on PC, then you'll be more inclined to invest in a PlayStation 5 to play God of War: Ragnarok while it's exclusive to the platform. There is a logic to this, but I do think Hulst underestimates how patient and determined PC gamers can be. There's a whole contingent of PC gamers who will refuse to buy games on the Epic Games Store, waiting months or even years until those games release on Steam. And buying a game on Epic incurs no additional cost beyond the game itself. The idea of those players rushing out to drop hundreds of notes on a PS5 so they can play Horizon 3 or whatever seems unlikely.

That's not everyone of course, and the strategy could work for Sony, but it does feel like the need to play things on day one has faded somewhat in this current era of gaming, and the PC gaming community can be awfully intractable when it wants to be. 

Less than a month ago, PC gamers collectively switched Helldivers 2's review rating on Steam to "Overwhelmingly Negative", after Sony tried to reinstate PSN/PC integration. Doing this meant switching hundreds of thousands of reviews to thumbs down, and they did it in a matter of days. When they want to, PC gamers can move the needle, and when it comes to buying games on other platforms, they can likewise refuse to do so.