While modern consoles share the same hardware design as PCs, there’s a major reason individuals choose sides between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Performance specs and features set aside, exclusivity has been the defining choice for gamers without deep pockets for cross-platform usage.
Besides the hybrid form factor of the Nintendo Switch, the console is the only place to play the latest Zelda, Mario, Metroid, and Kirby games. Sony has consistently set the standard for their cinematic single-player titles on the PlayStation such as Last of Us Part II and Ratchet and Clank, which were developed at a multi-million dollar budget.
While the Japanese electronics maker has recently rolled out PC releases, newer releases like Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West are only playable on Sony’s latest console.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has turned their Xbox brand into an ecosystem that spans consoles, video game streaming, and PCs. This means that first-party releases like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 get Day-One releases across all of its platforms. This makes sense considering that the best PC games are mostly Windows-only (though the best Mac games also have a lot to offer) and don’t forget that its Xbox is named after its API. Microsoft Direct X is used by PC game developers.
Technically, PC-specific games still exist, and some of the best free games out there are PC exclusives, including many of the hottest esports titles. However, certain large AAA monopolies are rarer than they ever were.
In 2020, we’ve seen a slight resurgence of big-budget PC exclusives like Microsoft Flight Simulator, which launched on PC a year before its release on Xbox Series X consoles | S and Half Life: Alyx is for VR only. Since then, PC gamers have lost interest in God of War: Ragnarok or Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.
PC gaming exclusivity used to be the norm
It’s unfortunate considering how PC gaming has historically been the basis for many popular series that still top the charts today. EA’s John Madden Football Released First On Apple II (opens in a new tab) first in 1988 before being ported to other PC platforms and finally making its debut in 1990 on the Sega Genesis console. Another EA property, The Sims, was a PC-exclusive title for years before finally arriving on consoles.
When it comes to shooters, the PC gaming legacy associated with the launch of classic series like Doom, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty, Deus Ex, Far Cry, Serious Sam, Max Payne, and Crysis are all first and foremost. Released on PC.
The controversy over whether Quake III: Arena or Unreal Tournament is the better tournament shooter has been the dominant conversation in the game and one that is completely ignored by console exclusive gamers – and it As controversial as any PS5 vs Xbox Series X debate.
While recent PC versions of the latest AAA games have often become the showcase for new tech on the best PC gaming, they haven’t been enough to shake console gamers who aren’t used to thinking about it. ray tracing speed and SSD access speed. After all, they are the ones getting all the exclusive releases these days.
Besides, the best graphics card has always been the domain of some PC enthusiasts, so most PC gamers don’t even get to experience the high-end visuals that make PCs a gaming platform. And this isn’t a large enough customer base to justify the staggering cost of a modern AAA title, especially since PC gamers tend to sign up for their games for free.
A sizable minority of PC gamers are responsible for the deaths of AAA monopolies
According to one PC Gamer Report 2016almost 35% of PC gamers piracy games and they did – and still do – it much. Digital rights management (or DRM) has long been a controversial topic for developers and gamers alike, but it’s not hard to see the business implications of it.
One of the reasons PC exclusivity is dwindling is because so many gamers on the platform are likely looking to get the pirate version for free. While major AAA developers from EA to Activision and Ubisoft may suffer financially and recalibrate their strategies, indies developers suffer even more.
In 2008, World of Goo was released by 2D Boy without DRM protection. With a developer seeing 500 seeders and 300 reporters on torrent sites, it’s not hard to see how its piracy rate reaches about 90%. World of Goo is co-released on the Wii, where there are much stronger piracy controls, so it’s clear which platform makes the most money for the two-man development team. And, in the end, it’s the money that keeps the studios afloat, not the love and adoration of fans.
It also makes no sense to focus resources on PC gaming monopolies when it only accounts for about 30% of the market share of the video game industry. (opens in a new tab) along with the hugely successful console and mobile market. This is all the more true when a significant number of users in the PC gaming community are pirates – and that is enough to force even larger but especially smaller development teams to invest in and move away from exclusive content. on PC.
The lack of exclusive PC games that can actually take advantage of significantly more powerful PC gaming hardware is a serious problem for those who have made a significant investment in their equipment. This is especially true when many PC versions of the game are cross-platform don’t even get the graphics enhancements such as the latest Madden and Released by FIFA, but ultimately this problem starts with the PC gaming community itself.
Is there hope for future PC exclusivity?
With the rise of Steam, the Epic Store, and other smaller PC game distribution platforms, indie developers have a chance to shine in ways they couldn’t before.
Games like Gone Home, Disco Elysium, Bright Memory: Infinite, and Hotline Miami are all small-budget indie projects that have been wildly successful on PC. These games span a wide range of genres and aren’t on AAA budgets, but they provide a unique enough experience to stand on their own. Most importantly, they were released on PCs before there were console ports, if they had one at all.
Outside of Half Life: Alyx and Microsoft Flight Simulator, however, there aren’t many PC exclusives that use the best computer hardware available the way they did in the 1990s and 2000s. And some good indie games. Most of today can even run on computers that were considered flagship in the early 2000s, but nowadays it can be difficult to run Skyrim with more than a few mods active.
And while PC will always be the real home of the best MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2 – along with popular e-sports titles like Dota 2 and Valorant – there won’t be many bombs. tons, the visual performance reserved for a high-end gaming rig like before.
There is simply no economic reason to do these kinds of games anymore. And with the rise of more accessible development tools like Unreal Engine 5 making cross-platform development easier than ever, the days of PC gamers bragging that their devices “have able to run Crysis” may no longer be available.