Horizon Zero Dawn Producer Answers Fans’ Criticism

Horizon Zero Dawn Producer Answers Fans' Criticism

It has been officially confirmed that action-adventure Horizon Zero Dawn is coming to PC after a lengthy period of being a PS4 exclusive. However, amidst the rejoicing and celebration of the PC players, there is also quite a bit of criticism and anger from PS4 owners. Horizon Zero Dawn Producer Sam Sharma has taken to Twitter to answer to express his position:

So the original poster changed his account to say “parody” and it turns out this was a hoax! And yet, I’ve attracted a fair bit of people who agree with the sentiment and even a threat or two. So like it or not, you’re getting a thread on exclusives. Pay attention. 

There are largely two kinds of exclusives: first-party, and second-party. 1st party exclusives come from developers that are usually owned by the platforms. Guerrilla, 343, Santa Monica etc. 2nd party are similar in nature but are from independent developers. Next Level etc.

Sometimes there are also 3rd party exclusives, e.g. Square Enix’s TOMB RAIDER in 2013. These are deals between 3rd party pubs and platforms where the publisher accepts a lump sum in lieu of sales on a different platform. Why? Sometimes it is to offset the risk the title presents, or for cash flow reasons. E.g. some games cost prohibitively much, and the exclusivity deal offers short term liquidity, helping the share price stabilise. (It sounds odd, but it’s not – keeping shares high avoids takeovers)

Back to 1st party and 2nd party exclusives: these are technologically, and mechanically designed with the main console as reference. When the plan is to release in one platform, no concessions are made for multi threading or processes or error handling on other platforms. (With Gen 4 the consoles are closer in architecture and thus parity is easier to design for but historically it has meant non-zero work to keep console parity. )

The publisher, in these instances being the platform owner then releases the game, hoping for a) increased console sales, b) general sales of the game to console owners and c) inspiring 3rd party and indies with techniques they hadn’t exploited yet.

A note about money: in most cases, development houses are cost centres. For tax purposes, they are not built to accept revenue. They’re paid bonuses based on game performance by the publisher. So keep that in mind. Exclusives serve a need for attracting players to a console, drive engagement with the console itself that is more predictable(no platform owner wants players to buy a console and then spend all their time on Facebook), and attracting a niche of players underserved by 3rd party

They’re a tactic publishers employ for business and strategy reasons: the developers are happy to make games in a relatively safe environment and take advantage of the deep marketing channels the platform already have. *However* the aim is never to needlessly antagonise anyone. Which brings us to games not being exclusive after a while. It’s non trivial to port a game to a different platform. Even if the architecture is similar (XBOX vs PC) the submission guidelines, controller and menu integrations, testing for various cards and CPUs etc cost a lot.

All this work and cost are incurred so more people can enjoy the game. If you’ve already bought it, obviously you’ve played and enjoyed it. The assumption is, the transaction was fair. (If you bought a console and a game, you now have a console and a game). We make games because we genuinely want to delight and entertain people. Any chance developers get to do that with a new audience, they will take. But there’s more: If you’re angry and are thinking this is a betrayal because a game will now be played by more players, you are being unkind to yourself. You’re letting yourself think that YOU having exclusivity over a game somehow defines your self worth. You’re wrong.

You’re worthy l, and capable of a lot of lovely things. Games are entertainment and art we make for you, you’re not defined by them. Love them, but don’t let them be your sense of self. You’re worth a lot; be kind to yourself. And be kind to developers. We don’t need threats from you to feel stressed. We already have so! Many! Stressors! To deal with. To a player, we love you and appreciate your support and passion. Let us make games for you where you play, and for those who play elsewhere.

While PC gamers will finally be able to get a taste of what they’ve been missing in humanity’s far flung future, do not expect this port to be the norm.

“ to maybe put a few minds at ease, releasing one first-party AAA title to PC doesn’t necessarily mean that every game now will come to PC. In my mind, Horizon Zero Dawn was just a great fit in this particular instance. We don’t have plans for day and date [PC releases], and we remain 100% committed to dedicated hardware.”

Written by
While growing up in the wilds of Russia, Catherine learned to talk, write and game at almost the same time. You can follow her attempts at latter two at MMORPG.com and GameSpace.

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