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PlayStation needs to copy this one thing from Xbox

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which console wins?
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There's something unexpected in the PC edition of Marvel’s Spider-Man. According to VGC (opens in new tab), the PC version has game files referencing a “PlayStation PC launcher.” 

Sony hasn’t officially announced such a launcher, nor is the existence of these references proof it will ever appear. But as VGC notes, this could be seen as Sony showing interest in the idea, at the very least. Files referencing “PSNAccountLinked” and “PSNLinkingEntitlements” were also discovered. VGC has viewed and verified these files.

Sony appears to be doubling down on PC gaming. Just this year, it released God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man — titles that rank among the best PS4 games. Before that, the company unleashed Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn on PC. The Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection is expected on the platform before the year ends. Given how Sony recently launched a website dedicated to PlayStation games on PC (opens in new tab), it’s safe to say we’ll see more of the company’s first-party offerings in the near future.

I’m a huge fan of PlayStation games on PC. This is especially true now that I have a Steam Deck. Still, I think there’s room for improvement. A lot of room, actually.

For PlayStation PC games to reach their full potential, Sony needs better integration between PlayStation and PC via the PlayStation Network. Essentially, it needs to copy what Microsoft is currently doing with its Xbox ecosystem. This is a necessary step that will ultimately help expand the PlayStation brand outside of the console space and make PSN more unified as a whole.

PlayStation's disunified ecosystem

PlayStation Plus on PC feels years behind Xbox Game Pass. You can’t download games or even search for individual titles on the PC app. Syncing save data isn’t easy either.

Microsoft’s Xbox is the poster child of unified gaming ecosystems. If you buy a first-party Xbox title like Gears 5 or Halo Infinite, you can play it on your Xbox Series X or one of the best gaming PCs

Thanks to cloud saves, you can start playing on one platform and resume your game on another without missing a beat. Cross-saves also work if you’re playing a game via Xbox Cloud Gaming. The latter feature also lets you play Xbox titles on mobile devices. Best of all, you only need to purchase a game once.

The revamped PlayStation Plus unites services like the previous version of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. Under one subscription, you have access to hundreds of downloadable and streaming titles from PlayStation’s expansive gaming library, which consists of titles from both first- and third-party developers.

PlayStation Plus Collection feature

The revamped PlayStation Plus is great but it doesn't have the cohesion seen on Xbox. (Image credit: PlayStation)

PlayStation Plus on PC feels years behind Xbox Game Pass. It works great on PS4 and PS5. However, things aren’t so rosy when it comes to the PC app. You can’t download games or even search for individual titles. Syncing save data isn’t easy either. 

If you were hoping for PS Plus functionality on iOS or Android, you’re out of luck. This is even more egregious when you consider that Xbox Game Pass has enjoyed PC and mobile compatibility for years.

What about the PlayStation titles currently available on PC? Can you sync save data between consoles and PC? You cannot. Do you have to rebuy a game if you want to play it on PC? Yes, you do. Are PlayStation trophies carried over between console and PC? Absolutely not. 

The only thing uniting PC and console PlayStation games is the Sony Interactive Entertainment animation that runs after you boot up a game. That’s it.

Marvel's Spider-Man

You can play Marvel's Spider-Man on Steam Deck but you won't be able to use your previous PS4/PS5 game save file. (Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Some may say this is because PlayStation PC games are on independent marketplaces like Steam and the Epic Games Store. However, Xbox titles on Steam like Halo: The Master Chief Collection feature cross-saves and Xbox achievements. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the same for PlayStation games available on console and PC.

PlayStation needs to copy Xbox ASAP 

If Sony ever decides to release a PlayStation PC launcher for its growing library of PC titles, it could be a real game changer (if you'll pardon the pun). This is especially true if it’s tied to one’s PlayStation Network account. If it were to function like the Xbox ecosystem, users could buy a single title and play it across a multitude of devices – with full game save and trophy support. I don’t know about you, but that would be a dream come true.

I realize the thought of yet another PC launcher turns some people off. Steam. The Epic Games Store. Ubisoft Connect. GOG. EA Origin. RockStar Games Launcher. The Xbox app. It’s a lot. But if we can have true unity between PlayStation consoles and PC, I think suffering one more launcher on one’s desktop is a small price to pay.

While the news that inspired my argument here remains the stuff of rumors, I believe Sony will eventually provide us with a unified PlayStation ecosystem. The company’s greater push into the PC gaming space, both in terms of PlayStation titles and gaming peripherals like the Sony Inzone H9 and Sony Inzone M9, proves the company isn’t merely paying lip service to PC gaming. I see no reason why Sony won’t continue on this path. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.