Can God of War on PC Do What God of War Did for PlayStation in India?
Spoiler: definite maybe.
Years ago, we started seeing some smaller Sony projects make their way to PC via Steam. These included the likes of Helldivers, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and more recently Days Gone and Horizon Zero Dawn. Barring that, many other games like Death Stranding and Detroit: Become Human were either published by another company like 505 Games in the case of the former, or self-published like with all of Quantic Dream’s PlayStation games that came to PC.
Horizon Zero Dawn specifically is important to note because it was the first major PlayStation project to be published directly by Sony on the PC platform. Since then, while Days Gone has been successful on PC, God of War (2018) (henceforth God of War) is a very big deal for Sony’s foray into the PC platform because of its brand, how successful the game was on PS4, and how tens of millions are likely looking forward to the sequel for PS4 and PS5.
God of War PC Port Impressions
God of War’s PC port has benefited from the learnings of the Horizon Zero Dawn port. This is evident right from the get go with it supporting all the PC features one would expect in a big AAA release on the platform. This includes uncapped frame rates, arbitrary resolution support, ultrawide aspect ratio support, multiple input options, PC-specific technologies like Nvidia’s DLSS and Reflex, and more. You can also adjust all of this on the fly which is great to see. If you were afraid this might end up like the lackluster and bare-bones Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade PC port you need not worry.
In terms of content, it has the full main game and the Death’s Vow set which gives you a headstart in the early portion of the game. This was originally a pre-order bonus for the PS4 version of God of War. God of War didn’t have any story DLC and the PC version includes all content and patches with PC-exclusive features and options.
Even when played on a budget gaming laptop, God of War ran very well with it scaling well above the PS4 Pro version. While this laptop, an Asus TUF 505DT specced out with an AMD Ryzen 5-3550H processor (2.1GHz Base speed up to 3.7GHz), 16GB DDR4 RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GPU couldn’t handle 4K 60fps, having support for ultrawide aspect ratio, many graphics options that go above the console version and the ability to play at above 60fps elevates it into an experience that is essential for PC players who don’t own a console or haven’t played God of War yet.
It is also great to see the game display how much VRAM is needed and available whenever you change any setting with image previews for graphics options. One disappointment so far is the DualSense support. When Sony Santa Monica Studio promised DualSense and DualShock support, I was hoping for more than just both controllers being treated the same. If you were expecting adaptive triggers and haptic feedback like I was, there is none here. Instead, God of War on PC just treats the DualSense like a DualShock 4 with the same button prompts.
Even as an initial release, God of War on PC is excellent. It is going to be interesting to see how God of War Ragnarok on PS5 fares when compared to this PC release visually considering one is an older game on a very scalable platform while the other is a new release with learnings from the original game built for two specific console platforms.
The future of PlayStation on PC
Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn are excellent games that were a big deal when they hit PC. God of War (2018) is on a whole other level. When many people think of Sony games, brands like God of War and Uncharted are likely the first ones to come to mind given the prominence of them on PS2 (or PS3 and later for Uncharted) and later systems. God of War is the first PlayStation game to hit PC in 2022 with Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection set for release in the future.
As it stands, Sony seems very happy with the results of Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone on PC considering the platform holder has indicated that PC releases let the brands grow and let PlayStation reach new geographies. While day and date releases are still far away (for now), God of War’s PC release is a huge deal and we will not see anything close to its importance until Sony brings its first PS5-exclusive title to PC in terms of reach and scale.
When Microsoft started bringing a few older Xbox One titles to PC through the Microsoft Store, that first step led to the Microsoft games coming to Steam as well as the Microsoft Store at the same time worldwide. If you look at Steam’s top sellers for 2021, there are multiple Microsoft games near the top of the charts including both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5. This is despite the games being available on Xbox Game Pass.
2022 will likely have more than just God of War and Uncharted hitting PC. If I had to speculate on what might follow, Ghost of Tsushima seems like the best bet for success given how well games in that genre do on PC and with how great Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut was when it released on PS5 and PS4 last year. While this is all great for Sony, let’s look at all of this from the context of the Indian market.
The Indian PC games pricing and hardware issues
There are a few groups of people who are the target for God of War: PC-only players, console owners who also play on PC, and finally those who already enjoyed God of War on console, but want to see it scale well above what is possible on current consoles.
The first group of people are likely why this game is priced at $49.99 / Rs. 3,299. I’ve seen some speculation about the price being too high because the game is either on PlayStation Plus or very cheap on console right now. The same was true for both Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone when they hit PC and it didn’t really affect sales with both selling well on Steam at least. It’s something publishers have been aware of for some time now, happy to keep pricing high save for some high-profile instances — namely Deathloop and Hitman 3.
And while that’s great for Sony in the now, how God of War on PC sells in India beyond Steam sales will be of interest as the PC desktop market as a whole is flat. Changes in desktop PC numbers in the country are tough to come by due to skewed pricing.
Before mining and price-gouging along with alleged under the table auctions from less than scrupulous distributors became the norm here, Nvidia moved about 30,000 GPUs a quarter with a majority of them being in the Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 8,000 range. Then we had around a 35 percent attach rate on GPUs versus the 80 to 85 percent in developed markets. Now, it’s quite likely that the GPU attach rate and average price would have increased, but if these are in the hands of miners or gamers isn’t known at the moment.
The future of Indian PC gaming — laptops?
All of this essentially means that the PC hardware side of things is relatively unchanged. However that doesn’t mean Indians aren’t gaming on PC. They’ve simply moved over to laptops.
“The TUF series price point is around Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80,000, this segment, not just for Asus, but for other manufacturers as well, it occupies almost 40 to 50 percent of India's gaming market,” said Arnold Su, Business Head, Consumer and Gaming PC, System Business Group, Asus India, to me last year. “It's usually working professionals or students that are buyers in this segment and it's doing quite well. They aren't hardcore esports players, but those that want a machine to do their daily work as well as play games.”
Su told me that 50 to 60 percent of gaming laptop sales are online with the biggest requirements from consumers being more SSD storage — with 512GB SSD-specced laptops rising in popularity (as opposed to the more common 256GB option), 90Whr batteries and at least a GTX 1650-class GPU.
His comments line up with the trend retailers and sub-distributors are seeing even now: a greater demand for laptops, particularly in the mid-range.
“We’re seeing consistent demand for HP Pavilion Gaming laptops despite HP not actively marketing them,” says one sub-distributor on condition of anonymity fearing retribution. “They’re usually in the Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 65,000 range. Buyers are finding them in online guides and retail sites in their price range.”
Others like Acer think there’s a bigger play beyond the value-focussed gaming audience.
“What we've observed is both — the casual gamer audience that spends around Rs. 50,000 plus and the esports or hardcore crowd that spends Rs. 1,00,000 plus for a better specced PC — are growing,” said Sudhir Goel, Chief Business Officer at Acer, to me last year. “This is why we brought in multiple ranges after the success of the Predator laptop series such as the Aspire 7 for those focussed on value, and it did well. During last year's BBD [Flipkart's Big Billion Days Sale] we sold thousands of pieces in a few hours and it sold out.”
Nonetheless, on a per game basis sources tell me Counter-Strike: Global Offensive averages around 150,000 monthly active users while Rainbow Six Siege is about half of that, going up to around 120,000 during free weekends. PUBG PC at its peak had about 150,000 daily active players according to one esports organiser, it’ll be interesting to see if it ever gets to that level again in India with it going free-to-play.
How God of War PC ties in to all of this
The popularity of PlayStation in India can largely be attributed to the God of War series. God of War 1 and 2 propelled the PS2 to close to a million consoles in the country, while God of War 3 moved 10,000 units on the PS3 on day one itself. God of War on PS4 moved roughly 50,000 units in its first three months. Alongside Uncharted, Horizon, and Spider-Man, it’s one of if not the biggest franchise.
While its unlikely that the adventures of Kratos and Atreus will move a million 3070 Ti GPUs, I won’t be surprised to see a welcome seven to 10 percent bump in laptop sales at the very least. Reason being, anyone of the 37 percent of mobile gamers looking to move to a PC (mainly laptop given market conditions) won’t have to shell out for a console just yet. Particularly given how well it performs on middling hardware like my own.
Other interesting insights from the Indian games market
Don’t hold your breath for Elden Ring’s Launch Edition making it to India. Bandai Namco’s minimum order requirements are on the higher side.
Conversely, expect Horizon Forbidden West’s Collector’s and Special Editions to make here. Sony’s figuring out what quantity to bring.
Despite having an extremely poor launch and a borderline-Cyberpunk 2077-esque patch cycle, Cricket 22 continues to be a best-seller at retail.
Speaking of Cyberpunk 2077, retailers tell me that the PS4 and PC versions moved without a hitch at launch with the PC version being the lion’s share of demand, even post-launch. Despite having a console bundle and marketing deal with Xbox, retailers found the Xbox version of CD Projekt’s game to be a tough sell.