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PlayStation Games Thriving on Steam Deck: A Digital Technology Expert‘s Perspective

As someone who has worked in the digital technology industry for over a decade, I‘ve seen countless shifts in the gaming landscape. One of the most significant changes in recent years has been the blurring of lines between platforms, with console exclusives increasingly making their way to PC. Sony Interactive Entertainment, in particular, has been expanding its horizons by bringing some of its most acclaimed PlayStation franchises to Steam. Now, with the advent of the Steam Deck handheld gaming PC, these PlayStation ports are taking on new life and reaching even more players.

The Rise of PlayStation Games on PC

It all started with Horizon Zero Dawn in August 2020, which marked the first time a major PlayStation 4 exclusive had been ported to PC. The game was a resounding success, selling over 716,000 copies on Steam within its first month according to PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst in an interview with the PlayStation Blog.

Other high-profile PlayStation games soon followed suit. Death Stranding, a console exclusive published by Sony, arrived on PC in July 2020. Days Gone launched on Steam and Epic Games Store in May 2021. God of War (2018) made its way to Steam in January 2022 and sold 971,000 copies in its first month as per a Sony investor relations report. Marvel‘s Spider-Man Remastered swung onto PC in August 2022, with Sony stating that one-third of the game‘s sales were on PC in its first three months.

Most recently, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, which includes Uncharted 4: A Thief‘s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, released on Steam in October 2022. While sales numbers have not been disclosed, the game has achieved "Very Positive" user reviews on Steam with over 8,000 players at its peak concurrent count.

The Steam Deck Difference

What sets these PlayStation PC ports apart now is that many of them are getting officially verified for the Steam Deck. Valve‘s handheld gaming PC launched in February 2022 and has since become a highly popular device for playing Steam games on the go. When a game is "Verified" for Steam Deck, it means that it meets certain criteria:

  • The game runs smoothly and performs well
  • The text is legible and the interface is navigable with the Steam Deck‘s controls
  • No compatibility warnings are displayed
  • The game supports the Steam Deck‘s native resolution and aspect ratio

Both Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War were among the first PlayStation games to be Steam Deck Verified shortly after the device‘s launch. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection was also Verified on the same day as its PC release.

Having these PlayStation games not only available on PC but officially supported on the Steam Deck provides a number of benefits:

  1. Portability – Players can enjoy these cinematic, story-driven games on the go without being tethered to a TV or desk.
  2. Precision controls – The Steam Deck‘s trackpads, gyro aiming, and remappable buttons allow for a highly customizable control experience that can in some cases surpass a DualShock 4 or DualSense controller.
  3. Suspend/resume – The Steam Deck‘s suspend/resume feature lets you pause your game at any time and pick up right where you left off, which is perfect for story-heavy games like God of War and Uncharted.
  4. Improved performance – Many PlayStation games are capped at 30fps on console, but on the Steam Deck, they can run at higher frame rates for a smoother experience (provided you tweak the graphics settings and resolution).

PlayStation Games Optimized for Steam Deck

To ensure a great experience for Steam Deck players, some PlayStation games have received specific optimizations. For Horizon Zero Dawn, the development team at Guerrilla Games added extra graphics options and customizable controls to better suit the handheld. The game defaults to a 30fps frame rate cap on Steam Deck to maintain battery life and prevent overheating, but players can disable the cap if they wish.

God of War was also tailored for the Steam Deck, with the addition of a "HANDHELD" graphics preset that is custom-tuned for the Deck‘s 800p display. This preset adjusts settings like shadows, atmospheric effects, and texture quality to ensure a smooth frame rate. The development team also worked with AMD to make further optimizations for the Deck‘s custom APU.

The Hardware Behind the Handheld

Speaking of hardware, the Steam Deck is uniquely well-suited to running PlayStation games despite being a handheld system. It features a custom AMD APU that combines a 4-core/8-thread Zen 2 CPU with 8 RDNA 2 compute units for the GPU. This gives it approximately 1.6 teraflops of raw graphical performance, which is actually more than the 1.4 teraflops of the base PlayStation 4 model.

Of course, raw teraflops don‘t tell the whole story, as they don‘t consider factors like clock speeds, memory bandwidth, and thermal constraints. The Steam Deck runs at lower wattages than a PS4 to preserve battery life and generate less heat. But it also benefits from newer and more efficient CPU and GPU architectures, as well as faster LPDDR5 RAM.

In practice, this means that the Steam Deck is capable of playing many PS4 games at native resolution (1280×800) and 30fps or higher depending on the settings. Some less demanding games can even reach 60fps. PlayStation 5 games are a different story due to the PS5‘s significantly higher spec target, but the Steam Deck can still run certain cross-gen titles like Horizon Forbidden West at reduced settings.

The Future of PlayStation on PC and Portable

With the success of PlayStation games on PC and Steam Deck so far, it‘s natural to wonder what the future holds. Will Sony continue to bring more of its back catalog to Steam? Will it start developing PlayStation games with the Steam Deck in mind from the start? Or could we even see Sony re-enter the portable gaming market with a new device of its own?

Looking at the history of Sony‘s first-party studios, several of them have experience developing for non-PlayStation hardware. Guerrilla Games helped launch the PS Vita with Killzone: Mercenary, one of the best-looking games on the system. Media Molecule brought Tearaway to the PS Vita before making an expanded version for PS4. Naughty Dog and Ready at Dawn collaborated on a PSP spin-off called Daxter. And Bend Studio has its roots in handheld development, having created the Syphon Filter games for PSP. So the talent is certainly there for Sony to create bespoke portable experiences if it chose to.

Another possible avenue for PlayStation on portable is the PlayStation Now cloud gaming service. Currently, PS Now allows you to stream a selection of PS2, PS3, and PS4 games to a PS4, PS5, or PC. In a May 2022 investor presentation, Sony stated its intent to make PS Now available on "additional devices and platforms" in the future. While the Steam Deck is not explicitly named, it would make a lot of sense as a platform for PS Now given its portability and built-in controls.

PlayStation on PC by the Numbers

To put the impact of PlayStation games on PC into perspective, let‘s look at some more data points. According to Sony‘s latest financial report, net sales from PC titles reached ¥80.4 billion ($611 million USD) for fiscal year 2022, almost triple the ¥28.6 billion ($217 million USD) from the previous fiscal year.

In an August 2022 investor presentation, Sony revealed that PC accounted for 27% of PlayStation‘s overall game software sales in fiscal year 2022, up from just 5% in fiscal year 2021. The company expects this share to rise to 30% in fiscal year 2023.

These numbers demonstrate that there is a significant and growing appetite for PlayStation games on PC. And with more players getting their hands on the Steam Deck, the potential audience for these ports will only continue to expand.

Challenges and Considerations

Of course, bringing PlayStation games to PC and optimizing them for the Steam Deck is not without its challenges. Developing for a fixed console hardware spec is very different from the variable landscape of PC gaming. PlayStation Studios and their porting partners have to account for a wide range of CPU, GPU, and RAM configurations to ensure a consistent experience.

There are also technical hurdles to overcome, such as translating the PS4‘s low-level graphics API to the more standardized Vulkan and DirectX 12 APIs used on PC. This process can be time-consuming and costly, which is likely why we‘ve only seen a handful of PlayStation exclusives make the jump so far.

In terms of the Steam Deck specifically, the main challenge is balancing performance and battery life. The Deck‘s portable nature means that players will want to get a decent amount of playtime away from a charger. This requires careful optimization to ensure a smooth experience at an acceptable wattage. As mentioned before, some games like Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War have added specific settings to cater to the Steam Deck‘s capabilities.


The arrival of major PlayStation games on PC and their subsequent verification for the Steam Deck marks an exciting new chapter for the industry. It gives more players than ever access to some of the most acclaimed and technically impressive games of the last console generation, while also providing a new way to experience them on the go.

For Sony, it represents a savvy business decision to expand its audience and generate additional revenue from its back catalog. And for Valve, it bolsters the Steam Deck‘s library with some of the most high-profile games available.

As a digital technology expert, I believe this trend of platform convergence and cross-pollination will only accelerate in the coming years. With the lines between console, PC, and mobile starting to blur, gamers will have more freedom than ever to play the games they want on the devices they prefer. PlayStation‘s presence on the Steam Deck is a prime example of this new paradigm in action.

It will be fascinating to see how Sony continues to support PC and portable gaming going forward, whether through more Steam releases, cloud gaming, or even new dedicated hardware. One thing is for sure: the future looks bright for PlayStation fans who want to take their favorite games with them wherever they go. The Steam Deck is just the beginning.