Sony has been wading into the sweet waters of PC gaming with real intent over the past few years with some very good ports of previously PlayStation-exclusive hits including Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, and—coming soon—Uncharted. It may be getting ready to go deeper with its own exclusive game launcher: VGC (opens in new tab) reports that references to a "PlayStation PC launcher" have been found in the files of the recently-released PC version of Marvel's Spider-Man.
Currently, Sony's PC releases go where you'd expect them to: Steam and the Epic Games Store. But the reference to a separate PlayStation launcher opens the possibility that Sony could follow in the steps of Activision and Bethesda by offering its games in its own walled garden. Given that PlayStation's games are already on Steam, my guess is that Sony will introduce an intermediary launcher not unlike Ubisoft's Ubisoft Connect, which contains a separate user profile and appears whenever you launch one of its games from Steam or Epic.
The discovery of a reference to a PC launcher follows shortly behind a report of a similar finding indicating that Sony could be preparing to let PC gamers link PlayStation Network accounts (opens in new tab) to its games, with in-game bonuses on offer for those who do so. This again would be in-line with the kind of incentives Ubisoft offers through Ubisoft Connect.
Sony has established a stronger foothold on PC after releasing five first-party exclusives in the last two years:
- Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition (Aug 7, 2020)
- Days Gone (May 18, 2021)
- Predator: Hunting Grounds (Apr 29, 2021)
- God of War (Jan 14, 2022)
- Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered (Aug 12, 2022)
Moving to a proprietary platform would potentially allow PlayStation to make more money from fewer sales, as the publisher has to fork over a 30% cut to Valve on all Steam sales (reducing to 25% after $10M earned, and 20% after $50M; and a somewhat less onerous 12% to Epic for EGS sales). And we're not talking about couch change here: Sony predicted in May that it will earn $300 million in PC game sales (opens in new tab) in 2022, a huge jump from the $80 million it earned in 2021, and $35 million in 2020. Even with its own launcher in play, I strongly suspect that the vast majority of PlayStation PC sales would continue to be made through Steam. But a standalone launcher could simplify the process of integrating PlayStation Network functionality into its games, for instance, and possibly even gamer-friendly features similar to Play Anywhere on Xbox, which grants multi-platform access to games regardless of which platform they're actually purchased for.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time that a possible PlayStation PC launcher has come up: XboxEra Podcast co-host Nick Baker referenced a rumor about a PlayStation PC launcher back in February. "I've been told that they are going to have a PC launcher, and I believe they're looking into implementing cross-buy with that," Baker said. "So if you get a PlayStation version, you get the PC—just like Microsoft has Play Anywhere."
Uh…I talked about the PlayStation PC launcher 6 months ago lolhttps://t.co/Q7Ki23tvwcAugust 16, 2022
I've reached out to Sony for comment on the PlayStation PC launcher discovery, and will update if I receive a reply.