As Xbox moves to be multiplatform, PlayStation is dialing all in on PC

PS5 restock
(Image credit: Future)

If I had to assign February 2024 a word, it would be multiplatform. Against a backdrop of aggressively widespread redundancies across the games industry over the last month or so, both Xbox and PlayStation have been pushing the idea that multiplatform is the way forward if we want to make the industry more sustainable in the long term. While Microsoft has come right out and taken Sea of Thieves, Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, and Grounded all to PS5 – and the latter two also to Nintendo Switch – PlayStation has set its sights on taking on the PC market.

Over the last few years, PlayStation has made a habit of bringing its big PS4 and PS5 exclusives to PC around a year after their initial console debut, so this renewed push shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The likes of Returnal, The Last of Us, Marvel's Spider-Man, God of War, and Uncharted have all made the migration to PC in recent years, with the majority gaining a celebrated second wind. But it seems like that's just the beginning of Sony's plans for PC. Unlike Microsoft, however, it's not being that forthcoming about how its plans around PC releases will change going forward. 

PS meets PC

Best PS5 accessories

(Image credit: Future)

During Sony's latest earnings report, chairman Hiroki Totoki stated that originally "the first party title's main purpose was to make the console popular" – aka the PS4, PS5, and so on. Now, though, Totoki states that this first-party content "can be grown with multiplatform", and that's something that the company is pursuing with "aggressive" force to ensure improved profit margin performance. While Xbox might be courting PlayStation and Nintendo gamers, Totoki makes it clear that 'computers' are the focus for PlayStation.

Those statements came just a few weeks before Sony's shock announcement to lay off 900 people across its studios, with those reductions affecting numerous PlayStation Studios including Insomniac, Naughty Dog, Guerrilla, and the complete closure of its London Studio. It's a similar story to Microsoft's layoffs earlier this year, with nearly 2,000 people cut from its gaming division in January. It's been a bleak 12 months for the industry, despite some excellent games and sequels debuting across 2023, but it's clear from everything we've seen this month that the only way to turn things around is to – in part, at least – launch games on other devices. 

Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios

Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios (Image credit: Provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment)

"Delivering the immersive, narrative-driven stories that PlayStation Studios is known for, at the quality bar that we aspire to, requires a re-evaluation of how we operate," explains PlayStation Studios head, Hermen Hulst. "Delivering and sustaining social, online experiences – allowing PlayStation gamers to explore our worlds in different ways – as well as launching games on additional devices such as PC and Mobile, requires a different approach and different resources."

Xbox boss Phil Spencer said much the same in the recent Xbox Podcast where its first wave of plans for its multiplatform strategy were revealed. "I do have a fundamental belief that over the next 5 or 10 years, exclusive games, games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware, are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry," he stated, and clearly this is key in the attempt to rectify the issues plaguing the industry today. 

The only good bug is a dead bug 

Helldivers 2 intro cutscene helldiver thumbs up

(Image credit: Sony)

I say PlayStation hasn't clearly outlined any changes to its PlayStation to PC strategy, but it has already made a start this year with Helldivers 2. The multiplayer shooter is the first PS5 console exclusive to also debut simultaneously on PC, and it's had a phenomenal start. It only took 24 hours for Helldivers 2 to become the biggest PlayStation Studios game launch on Steam, and it's since gone on to become the biggest Steam launch from a PlayStation or Xbox Studios. That's overtaking the likes of Destiny 2, although that didn't come to Steam until several years after its initial release, but also Starfield too, which also dropped as a simultaneous release between Xbox and PC. 

This feels like a strategy that PlayStation can run with going forward, mimicking some of Xbox's strategy to bring smaller, social-focused experiences to PC to better bolster their player counts and re-investment potentials from the off. Helldivers 2 isn't made by a PlayStation-owned studio, or a title that you could realistically argue would be a definitive system-seller, and yet the cross-platform appetite for Arrowhead Game Studios' shooter has been insatiable – to the point where almost too many people are playing for the servers to cope. There's clearly an appetite here, not just for a really good multiplayer shooter, the type of which we've been lacking for a few years now, but for the kind of experiences Sony is good at highlighting to be available more widely. 

PlayStation Portal with Crash Bandicoot 2 on screen

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

It's also made a play for the PC market by launching the PlayStation Portal at the tail end of last year, with its Remote Play handheld vying for a slice of the pie currently being gobbled up by the likes of Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, and other portable PCs. The Portal itself won't go head-to-head with those Windows / Linux-powered beasts, but it's an interesting show of what PlayStation's overall strategy could be for diversifying its previously so walled-garden approach to releases. 

It's something that PlayStation will need to shed further light on soon too. With confirmation that the PS5 won't get any new major existing franchise titles before April 2025 and that as part of the corporate restructuring and layoffs several unannounced titles have been canceled, the future is looking a little uncertain for the platform. PS5 exclusives for this year are currently restricted to Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth, March's Rise of the Ronin, Stellar Blade in April, and then little else – at least that we currently know about. None of those are even slated for simultaneous PC releases either. 

If multiplatform is the thing that will save our games industry, then Sony and PlayStation – and hopefully Nintendo too one day – need to fully embrace it with some haste. At least the small glimmer of a silver lining to all this turmoil could well be the death of the console wars, and the extreme territorialism that comes with it. We can but hope.

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.