The initial news and subsequent details emerging about The Last of Us Part 1 haven’t exactly filled all quarters of the internet with joy. A remake that’s actually a graphical overhaul, a mere nine years after the original game? It seems cheeky, and big question marks linger over whether the beat-for-beat repeat of the original game – just with nicer graphics and stuff – really deserves to call itself a remake, given that all the changes are strictly technical.
But while Playstation gamers may rightly feel a little aggrieved that Sony clearly expects them to shell out for the third time for the first Last of Us game, it’s possible that Sony’s true target audience for the remake isn’t actually the console crowd, but PC. Naughty Dog and Sony are duty-bound to release the PS5 version first, of course, but they’ve already said that the PC version will come “very soon” after. It’s significant, because it’s the first time with a first-party game that Sony haven’t emphasised its exclusivity. Sony have been making huge inroads on PC in recent years, and are vocal about their future plans for the platform, saying in an investor meeting in May that by 2025 they plan on having “one-third” of their Playstation games available on PC.
At the same time as people are quite rightly questioning Part 1’s credentials as a remake (and that rather terrifying $70 price tag), PC gamers are gearing up to play it for the first time outside of a Playstation platform, with all the graphics tweaking, modding, and other freedoms that that entails. The Last of Us, one of the jewels in Playstation’s IP crown, is coming to PC. That’s a big deal – in fact, it’s a bigger deal than it coming to PS5.
The Last of Us Part 1 looks set to be the shortest turnaround between the launch of a first-party Playstation game on console and PC, which in some ways reveals the reality of how Sony really regards the game. Despite saying they’ve rebuilt the game “from the ground up” and trying to push the idea that they’ve put a whole game’s worth of work into things like improving the AI, the facial animations, and making shattered glass a bit more shattery when it shatters, if they really saw this as a ground-up new game, then there’s no way it wouldn’t be coming to PC so soon after the PS5 version.
A lengthy turnaround time between the console and PC releases of a first-party Playstation game is one of the final frontiers of exclusivity for Sony – one of the few remaining things that distinguish it from Xbox and its ‘Day One on Game Pass/PC/Xbox’ approach. Sony’s boys in blue will hold onto that position for as long as they can, and Last of Us Part 1 shouldn’t be an indicator that Sony is moving towards some kind of ‘Day One’ model with PC. If anything, it shows that Sony’s aware it’s re-releasing what’s at heart a nine-year-old PS3 game (albeit an incredible ahead-of-its-time one) that at this point is more valuable cross-platform than as an exclusive. Knowing that it’s very much a retread of the original game, Sony knows that it’s not a ‘platform pusher’ like, say God of War: Ragnarok or Horizon: Forbidden West.
Not that the importance of the game coming to PC should be understated. All going well, this will be the quintessential version of a classic Sony game, and the ability to play it at whatever absurd framerates you want with all the dirty Nvidia tricks like DLSS is a cause for celebration. Even the very name of the game – Part 1, rather than ‘Remake’ – feels like it’s paving the way for The Last of Us Part 2 to come to PC not too far down the line. It’s like Sony already has the organisation of our Steam libraries in mind, so that when we eventually get Part 2 to join Part 1, they’ll be sitting next to each other all snugly and synchronised on our digital bookshelves.
Given the past success of Playstation games on PC and the almost simultaneous release this time round, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the PC version of the game actually ended up selling better than the PS5 one. There’s the global shortage of PS5 hardware for a start, but also the fact that The Last of Us Remastered is perfectly playable on the console, and it still looks damn fine too. While we shouldn’t discount the fact that plenty of PS5 owners are also PC gamers, the arrival of the Last of Us series on PC for the first time is far more of an event than the third reiteration of the first game on Sony consoles. Were the PC version to outsell its PS5 counterpart, it would be a massively symbolic moment for the Playstation-PC migration.
There’s a lot to be frustrated by with The Last of Us Part 1, but one thing everyone should be happy about (apart from the over-agitated Sony exclusivists who cry ‘betrayal’ every time a former Playstation game makes its way over to PC) is that it marks another big milestone in Sony’s cross-platform ambitions. The Last of Us Part 1 may be coming to PS5 first, but make no mistake, the margin for its PC release is thinner than ever, and the game will mean much more to a PC audience than a PS5 one.