Quantic Dream’s PC ports signify the company’s intentions to be become a multiplatform developer and “boutique publisher.”
Ever since the 2010 release of Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream and their titles have been heavily associated with PlayStation platforms. That being said, they were never a first party studio. This enabled them to recently break off from Sony, take an investment from NetEase, and start releasing games for other platforms. The first milestone in this new era for the company are the PC releases of their last three titles – Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human – through the Epic Games Store.
In a recent interview with Quantic Dream’s David Cage, DualShockers learned just how major of a shift this actually is for the developer. It became clear that Quantic Dream was “thinking about where we wanted to go with the company for quite some time” and that breaking away from releasing games solely on PlayStation platforms would allow them to “work on different platforms and reach players all around the world” and become a “boutique publisher.”
David Cage confirmed that Quantic Dream had actually been looking to expand and break free of PlayStation exclusivity since “around two years before the release of Detroit,” and that “after having worked exclusively with PlayStation for 12 years, we thought it was the right time for us to put our money where our mouth is.” He gave multiple reasons for Quantic Dream wanting to become more independent with what they develop and what platforms they release for “We also felt that the landscape would change in the coming years, with the emergence of new platforms, 5G and Cloud Play.”
He then revealed Quantic Dream’s aspirations to become “a ’boutique’ publisher’” over the next few years because “as developers ourselves, we also believe that we understand developers.” As an independent publisher, Quantic Dream will be “backing few titles and championing originality and high quality, while providing tech and industrial support.” He continued on to say that Quantic Dream “felt there was room for a new publisher that would have an ‘ethical’ approach, offering fair deals and not taking ownership of IP.” This all started with Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human, and these PC ports, as they are “the first titles produced and published by Quantic Dream.”
Such as drastic shift for a developer is not seamless though, as Quantic Dream had to find the best partners to make this happen. David Cage explained that Quantic Dream “met many publishers and financiers potentially interested in investing in the company” before settling on NetEase. “They understood the ambition we had for the studio and we felt there were some very interesting strategic synergies between our companies.”
While Quantic Dream decided to split off from relying on Sony and has brought previously PlayStation exclusive games to another platform, there does not seem to be any bad blood. “We always had a great relationship with Sony PlayStation. They have always been very supportive of my work and we have always been very loyal to them in return. So we had a very open talk about all this, and they allowed us to release our catalog of titles on PC,” David Cage confirmed. After all of these talks and partnerships were in place, the PC porting process could finally begin, though it was not all smooth sailing.
David Cage revealed that Quantic Dream has “spent a year working on porting our games, optimizing engines and redesigning controls, to make our titles accessible to all PC gamers.” As the games were developed with only PS3 or PS4 in mind, there were some trials and tribulations with getting the controls and code to work properly. “When we developed the PlayStation versions, all the code was native for PlayStation, optimized to the bone to run as best as possible on that platform. We also designed the interface for the PlayStation controller, as we always wanted to support the platform as much as we could and to be as close to it as possible. All these advantages we had on PlayStation became challenges in porting the game to PC,” Cage highlighted.
Not wanting to do “‘straight ports’ without paying attention to the differences between the platforms,” Quantic Dream took their time recreating their classics for PC. Over the course of the last year, Quantic Dream has taken steps to “refactor the engine, ensuring it would run well on low-end PCs and in 60fps 4K on high-end PCs, with upgraded assets” and change up “the interface to make it suited to a keyboard and mouse, as well as to different types of controllers.”
There was always a chance that these ports could prove to be more trouble than they were worth, but this fortunately turned out not to be the case. David Cage says that Quantic Dream is “really pleased with the result” of their work on these PC ports for Epic Games Store, and revealed that they are “very pleased with [Heavy Rain’s] current figures, which align with our expectations.” He believes Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human will perform well in the long term on the Epic Games Store as well because Quantic Dream’s titles are “long-sellers, so we know that new players will keep discovering our titles in the coming years.”
Whenever a major studio like Quantic Dream decides to break off from their established norms, it comes with a lot of risk. Still, they payoff can be quite massive, and Quantic Dream seems to have been successful in their new ventures so far according to David Cage. As platforms like Google Stadia, PS5, and Xbox’s Project Scarlett approach, David Cage is making it clear that “Quantic Dream is not exclusive to any platform anymore. So yes, unless there are some specific exclusivity deals on a title-by-title basis, all our games will be released on all platforms at launch.”
Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are already available on PC through the Epic Games Store, while Detroit: Become Human is releasing on Epic’s storefront later this year.