Action Audit: Why Horizon Zero Dawn is (probably) Getting a PC Release

By | 01/19/2020

Kotaku recently published an article stating that Horizon: Zero Dawn (HZD) will get a PC release in the 2020 calendar year. This is noteworthy because Sony has generally avoided PC releases for the titles that they own, opting instead for a “walled garden” strategy (meaning: you need to buy a PS4 to play their first party titles).

I recently took to Reddit to explain why this happening at this stage in HZD’s life-cycle.

My Reddit posts receive less detail and less proofing. If I repost them here, they will be reserved for Action Audit. Please excuse minor typos and shorthand.

There’s two things going on here:

1) MS is shifting their business model to become hardware-agnostic (as long as it’s Windows 10 or Xbox) and broadening their “base”, so to speak. UWP (Universal Windows Platform) is a major factor in that, but MS knows they need to shift their revenue generation and that starts with making sure their games are available on more platforms (supplemented by a subscription). Sony isn’t under as much pressure to do so (given the success of the PS4) but they know they can’t simply surrender the PC / Service / Brand space to Microsoft. This is a “baby step” for Sony, giving them a model to build around, if successful.

2) Horizon Zero Dawn was/is limited in the revenue it can generate because it’s limited to the PS4 install base (and perhaps eventual support from PS5). HZD isn’t a system seller these days as it is nearing the end of its practical life-cycle. Financially, there isn’t much of an incentive to limit it to PS4/PS5. A good way to generate revenue from a late life-cycle product is to reintroduce it in some manner, or make it available to more people who didn’t have a chance to buy it. As long as the re-engineering costs are reasonable, PC sales will generate more than enough revenue to cover it. While this might be new territory for Sony, if the ROI is positive, there really isn’t a reason to NOT do it (outside of theoretical opportunity cost).

If Sony is moving to support more PC releases, they may want to start building “HyPe” for the sequel. I know we are going to see some posts about how this was supposed to be a Sony exclusive and this somehow “hurts” Playstation customers. It happens every time one of these games moves to PC (from console only). If that’s your POV on this, that’s fine, but understand you’re POV is borderline ridiculous. Asking for games to stay exclusive inside some walled garden forever is not only “bad” for people that want to play games, but it’s arguably the wrong choice for Sony financially, especially when the re-engineering costs are (likely) minimal/reasonable. If you are a Playstation “fan”, this generates additional revenue which can be used for more Playstation products.