It was no surprise when Sony, at their State of Play event, unveiled yet another major Playstation exclusive to cross that once-impassable threshold onto PC. In the buildup to the big reveal, some believed it would be Ghost of Tsushima, others suggested The Last of Us 2, and so many clasped their hands and Gregorian-chanted to the Great Ones in the faint hope that it would be Bloodborne.
Instead, we got Marvel's Spider-Man which is, y'know, fine. Make no mistake, Spider-Man is not only one of the best games to come out of the Marvel Universe but an excellent game full-stop; it's a free-swinging urban escapade that's worth checking out even if the slightest mention of spandex makes you think about painting the garden fence.
Perhaps the solid procession from Playstation to PC of distinctly Sony IP like God of War, Horizon and (soon) Uncharted has spoiled me a bit, but unlike those games Sony create Spider-Man—they just locked the rights away for a bit—so the webbed one's return to PC after an eight-year hiatus feels like some semblance of normality being restored rather than a glorious manifestation of the formerly unthinkable.
But I'm not here to get bogged-down on the sins of exclusivity, especially as we here on PC are fast becoming a fertile middle ground where Playstation and Xbox games can peacefully coexist while still posturing as exclusives just because they haven't crossed from Team Green to Team Blue or vice versa: yes, you're still exclusive Kratos, now GET DOWN AND GIVE ME 1440@120fps.
There's a wider web of implication around Spider-Man's arrival on PC. First up, not much has been made of the fact that it was announced alongside its sort-of sequel and PS5 launch title, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which will come out shortly after; this will be the first PS5 game to come to PC, and cuts the gestation period for in-house Sony games, from PS womb to PC rebirth, down to under two years. The idea of PC just getting Playstation's old leftovers is fast becoming redundant…
Then there's the fact that this is the first former PS-exclusive to be announced for PC that didn't appear in the GeForce Now leak. But perhaps that's more of a reality check than anything. Even though the leak has become an accurate predictor of future game releases, Spider-Man's absence from it shouldn't come as too much of a revelation. Sony has a patchy relationship with Nvidia's cloud gaming platform; neither Horizon: Zero Dawn nor Days Gone are on GeForce Now, and Sony Santa Monica announced just the other day—with no explanation—that God of War is being pulled from the service.
So Spider-Man proves that while the leak is a good barometer for what Sony is bringing to PC, it by no means tells us what Sony is not bringing to PC. There will definitely be upcoming PC ports we've heard nothing about until now (which in turns gives us renewed hope, however glimmery, that one of those may be Bloodborne). This is supported by Sony's own projections (unveiled by Eurogamer) that by 2025 around 30% of its first-party game launches will be on PC (I arrived at that percentage by drawing two horizontal lines in MS Paint, as shown below which I believe qualifies as 'scientific method'). Unless Sony inexplicably shrinks its output over the coming years, that prognosis should far outnumber the eight remaining Sony games listed in the leak.
The PS Now problem
Another reason to celebrate Spidey's inswinging arrival is for the simple reason that it's yet another former Playstation exclusive (or two, if you count Miles Morales) to come to PC, and the port library is starting to look rather substantial. If you count Sony-published games from third-party studios (like Nioh, Nioh 2, Death Stranding and Quantic Dream's games) the total number is now comfortably in double figures, and would make a strong foundation for, say, a PC-based version of Sony's revamped Playstation Plus service.
That may sound like a hypothetical, but the risibly crap situation that Sony's merging of Playstation Now into Playstation Plus will leave PC players in come June 22—putting them onto the most expensive 'Premium' Playstation Plus tier while missing out on all of the console-only benefits—suggests to me that this is transitory, and that a better solution for PC is in the pipeline. The PC offering has been notably absent from Sony's publicity push with PS Plus; there's no word on long-overdue PS5 controller support for PS Now/Plus Premium, and there's been no attempt to sugarcoat the raw deal PC-only subscribers would get. Sony is not promoting this service on PC at all and the message is clear: It's not meant for us (yet).
But just behind that, Sony's message about its growing commitment to PC gaming has also been clear, and seeing as Sony's confirmed it's going to be releasing an ever-growing number of titles on PC, why would it settle for giving substantial profit cuts to Valve (and slightly less substantial ones to Epic) when it can create its own little ecosystem? It's used Steam to feel-out the market these past few years while slowly building up its presence, and the market has spoken.
In its current form, PS Plus Premium on PC is irrelevant, but bolster it with a bunch of tangible, downloadable first- and third-party games, and suddenly you have a competitor to Microsoft's PC Game Pass. The blockbuster quality of Sony's PC line-up makes up for its relatively small size, and it would likely be padded-out with some of the same third-party games we're seeing on the console version of the subscription. Marvel's Spider-Man feels like another big step towards that, though Sony will want to consecrate its new platform with something a little more representative of the Playstation brand, something that's defied cross-generational stagnation to define the 'Playstation Experience' over the years…
Meanwhile, in the low-lit backstage area of an underground hip-hop club, an anthropomorphic dog is readying himself for a freestyle showdown when his phone starts to ring, a familiar tune that takes him back to a more innocent time, a time when he had the world bopping to his beat—'Kick, Punch, It's All In The Mind.' Behind the cracks on his phone's screen he sees the name of someone he hadn't heard from in over 20 long years—his agent from Sony. He picks up, and before he can say anything, an urgent voice speaks down the line: "Parappa… you gotta believe again."
Back in the real world, a big part of Playstation's strategy revolves around a revamped subscription service and a rapid expansion of its PC presence. As already proven by Microsoft, these two things go hand-in-hand, and with the arrival of Spider-Man we're nearly at the tipping point where Sony has enough of a PC roster to kickstart a subscription service capable of competing with that of its biggest rival.
Of course, we all know which game would really make the perfect headliner for a PC-based Playstation platform, but I feel like one more utterance of it may send me into a Frenzy, so let me point you instead to our on-site shrine to FromSoft's eldritch classic.