The PlayStation 4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn will come to personal computers this year, sources tell Kotaku. It’s an unprecedented move for Sony that signals a future in which the publisher releases games on platforms beyond its own consoles.
This news comes from three people familiar with Sony’s plans, all speaking anonymously because they were not authorised to talk to press. Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Horizon: Zero Dawn, an open-world game set in a post-apocalyptic version of the United States that has been overrun by robot dinosaurs, launched for PS4 in February 2017. It was critically acclaimed and commercially successful for its developer, Guerrilla Games, which is owned and operated by Sony. And, like other Sony-published games over the past two decades, it was exclusive to a PlayStation console, helping drive sales of Sony’s hardware in addition to generating revenue on its own.
Now, three years later, Horizon will be on another platform for the first time. We expect to see the game on both Steam and the Epic Games Store when it launches (although that may not be finalised yet). It will be the first Guerrilla game on a non-PlayStation platform since Sony purchased the Netherlands-based studio in 2005. It will also be an opportunity for Guerrilla to show off its technical chops—Horizon: Zero Dawn, restrained by the PlayStation 4's hardware, was locked at a framerate of 30 frames per second. We expect the PC version to be more capable.
This will be the first big exclusive game from a Sony-owned developer to come to PC. Death Stranding, which launched for PS4 last November and will also arrive on PC later this year, was funded and published by Sony but developed by an independent studio, Kojima Productions. (In fact, the PC version of Death Stranding is published by a different company, 505 Games.) The French studio Quantic Dream, also independent, had a similar arrangement last year, self-publishing its games Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human on PC without Sony’s involvement.
One other thing Death Stranding and Horizon: Zero Dawn share is technology. Both games run on Guerrilla’s Decima Engine, a robust suite of tools and software for making open-world video games. Guerrilla and Kojima Productions have worked closely together in recent years.
For most publishers, the release of a game on PC would be no big deal. Most video game companies try to put their software on as many platforms as possible. But for Sony, this is a remarkable move. Since the launch of the PlayStation 1 in 1994, just about every game funded and developed by Sony has been exclusive to a PlayStation platform. (Sony’s PC-focused massively multiplayer online games, including EverQuest, are the main exception.) Sony’s strategy has always been to drive hardware sales with software and vice versa. One would expect them to take the same approach with future games on the PlayStation 5, which will launch this fall.
But, as analyst Mat Piscatella has smartly pointed out, the future of video games lies in ecosystems, not platforms. Sony’s biggest competitor, Microsoft, has been more upfront about its platform-agnostic strategy, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer talking frequently about wanting to get their games in as many hands as possible. For the past couple of years, Microsoft has released all of its Xbox games on PC as well. Will Sony follow suit with its own slate of PlayStation exclusives? This upcoming PC port of Horizon may be a telling sign.