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PlayStation is pushing ahead with its PC ambitions

With the recent PC releases of ‘Spider-Man: Miles Morales’, ‘Sackboy: A Big Adventure’ and ‘Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection’, Sony PlayStation is kicking its PC ambitions into high gear. This year it wants to more than triple its revenue from games released outside the console compared to the previous year.

PlayStation game ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered’ is a picture when you play it on the PlayStation 5. But it took us all the way to the next level on a Lenovo Legion S7 laptop, on which we recently played through a few hours of the game to compare it to how we experienced it on the PS5 late last year. The latter is an exceptionally powerful machine, but again we notice that the temporary lead in computing power that the consoles have over the average to better gaming PC just after their launch is getting shorter and shorter.

Visual differences

On that gaming laptop that costs around 1,500 euros today (for the connoisseurs: one with a twelfth generation Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card and 16 gigabytes of RAM), ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered’ played smoothly with crisp graphics, although the difference with the same game on the PlayStation 5 was in the deeper details. These have less to do with the better computing power of the central processor: that of the PlayStation 5, a processor from chipmaker AMD, remains robust compared to that of a sturdy PC two years after the device was launched. But the graphics hardware is another matter.

With a PC with a sturdy GeForce graphics card from the American chip manufacturer Nvidia, you first have the many proprietary technologies that the market leader of graphics chips builds into its products, such as the performance and quality -enhancing Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing (DLAA) and Nvidia Reflex technologies.

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Scalable graphics

All of the aforementioned also applies to the recently also released on PC games ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’, ‘Sackboy: A Big Adventure’ and ‘Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection’, and previous ports ‘God of War’ , ‘Days Gone’ and ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’. All of them have that visual scalability only possible for a PC game. A console game is made for one hardware profile, and otherwise it has to wait until the next edition of the console (typically 7 to 10 years) before there is a noticeable visual difference. A game for the PC can continue to evolve a lot after launch: when new visual gadgets in the chip area are added, they can also be supported by the game with an update if PlayStation wants it.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PC.

‘Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ op de pc. © PlayStation

But they are already making the most important difference in the improved ray tracing, a technique that makes super realistic lighting of surfaces possible. The PlayStation 5 was – along with the competing Xbox Series X – the first games console to support that technology, but it has been around longer on the PC and is evolving faster on it too. The ray tracing in the PC version already has an important foot ahead in terms of realistic shadows that outdoor light casts, for example on the pavement of Manhattan in the two ‘Spider-Man’ games. On the PS5, sunlight and moonlight don’t cast such realistic shadows.

'Sackboy: A Big Adventure' op de pc.

‘Sackboy: A Big Adventure’ op de pc. © PlayStation

PC conquest

Following Microsoft, which resolutely extended its Xbox brand to the PC, PlayStation is also working towards a future in which its own console hardware becomes less important. With those PC versions, but also with things like the PlayStation Plus Premium streaming service, which basically makes it possible to stream certain PlayStation games to a mobile device.

The ambitions in this area, which Sony revealed last summer during a presentation to investors, are great: by 2025, half of all PlayStation releases must be released on PC and mobile devices, the company said. The first stones have already been laid for this. In its 2021 fiscal year (which ended at the end of March this year), Sony had made about $80 million from video games outside of the PlayStation. More than double the same period in 2020-2021. And for fiscal year 2022, non-console revenue is expected to be $300 million.

At the same time, PlayStation will continue to make it a point for the time being that new blockbuster games will first appear on the PS5. This is in contrast to Xbox, which, for example, immediately launches its exclusive ‘Halo’ and ‘Gears of War’ games for both console and PC. So don’t immediately expect a PC version of the latest PlayStation hit ‘God of War: Ragnarök’ or ‘Horizon: Forbidden West’, which was released earlier this year. According to Hermen Hulst, head of development studios at PlayStation, each of those games will be “at least a year” before they hit the PC.


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