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In this day and age, you absolutely must use a computer to make a video game; and, no, "users making their own content using our editor built into the game itself" doesn't count. I'm talking about the base game that you purchase to use that editor.

Given that you made the game using a computer and special hardware is required to test/run it on anything else (PS4/5 Dev machines, etc). Why do games come out on, say, just a console? The basic testing prior to copying files over to a console for specific-issue testing is performed on a computer, programming is done on a computer, compiling is done on a computer, etc.

You actually have to do more work to release something exclusive to a console.

So, to re-iterate, why aren't games always released for home computers?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why do game developers develop games for exclusive contracts? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 0:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why is it difficult to port games from consoles to PC? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside from everything mentioned in the questions liked above. For some developers the illegal copies on PC weight, in particular for single player games. Consoles often have better copy protection. We can't generalize that to every game and studio, however, you ask why isn't every game released on PC. I appears to me that if this is the reason for a single game not being released on PC, that is sufficient for not every game being released on PC. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theraot
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, many times console makers make their own games exclusive so people will buy the console. Nintendo is a classic example. It's really annoying for pc players, especially since theirs always new consoles coming out and you have to buy them to get the new games. \$\endgroup\$
    – Millard
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 16:26

2 Answers 2

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Consoles have their advantages. You know exactly what hardware and software environment your game is going to run in. No targeting a huge array of combinations of GPUs (which might or might not have up-to-date drivers), CPUs and amount of memory players might have, no testing on different operating systems or versions of the same operating system, no supporting different screen resolutions (the boon of every UI designer), no weird programs running in the background which might interfere with your game, you even know exactly what controller the player is going to use. That makes a lot of things a lot simpler.

But that being said, it's quite frequent that console manufacturers make deals with game developers so they release the game specifically on their console. Especially when that console is new, and they need a couple high-profile exclusive titles as system sellers. A console is only as good as its game library. A very hyped game being available on only one console can convince a lot of people to buy that console just so they can play that game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ With the release of PS4/PS4 Pro, and Xbox Series X/S, the "known hardware" excuse is getting less and less reliable. :/ \$\endgroup\$
    – Casey
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are still fewer versions of consoles in active use than there are combinations of PC CPU, GPU, and OS out in the wild, by multiple orders of magnitude. This matters. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 1:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might also be worth mentioning some of the software benefits we get from releasing on console, like standardized APIs for friend lists, input handling, saving/add-ons, suspend/restore, etc. and also the funneling of audiences via the console's store and recommendation systems. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory That last one is just "Money" in disguise. :P Also I would argue with 96%+ market share (OSX a distant 3% and Linux a laughable >1%); targeting gamers on anything other than Windows is just a waste of development time, so it's really just a combination of CPU and GPU which is much easier to manage since targeting a specific GPU feature is easier; i.e. targeting ray tracing would require a GPU made in the last two years. \$\endgroup\$
    – Casey
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 4:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that I did not say Windows vs OSX. I said "Operating System". Within that 96% Windows, there's Windows 10, 8, 7, and even Vista still, in 32- and 64-bit flavours, various service packs, and other configuration details that impact games. Within even a single generation of GPUs there are multiple options, with different amounts of video memory, throughput, etc. And multiple sets of drivers forming a moving target. Something I've learned as a game developer: be careful of the temptation to say "just" — problems that appear simple on the surface are often much more complicated in practice. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 12:53
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Consoles are made specifically for gaming and as such it's tied to user experience. Since every single PC is different it's hard to predict or control that aspect and the games title will suffer as a result. I've always wondered why Sony never made a PC compatible CD drive and that's largely due to market share.

Expanding on the user experience any serious PC gamer can tell you that you constantly have to do upgrades and with consoles there are no technical attachments and even some portability to a degree

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