It’s not too long ago that the question of whether a game would be gracing the almighty gray box was a pressing issue surrounding any game announcement, where if you wind back the clock a decade it was routine for many big games to skip releasing on PC, and focus just on the console versions. These days, thankfully, it’s pretty standard operating procedure for most large games from big publishers to hit PC alongside Playstation and Xbox versions. There are, of course, still some exceptions, sometimes due to negotiations resulting in some kind of exclusivity situation, sometimes due to risk-averse management decisions that are not confident there’s a market for their games on PC. And, of course, we still see Sony and Nintendo focus on keeping their own first-party games exclusive to their respective consoles. Although even Sony is showings signs of being more open to PC versions of their games like Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn.
Generally, though, if it’s a major Western games publisher, the likes of Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Take Two, or Bandai Namco, we tend to get all of their games that are on consoles also made available on PC. 2020 is a good time to play on a high-end gaming PC, and not necessarily need a console to avoid missing out on specific games you want to play.
This isn’t the case for absolutely every game though and in the case of EA Sports’ upcoming UFC game, EA UFC 4, there are currently no announced plans for any PC version whatsoever.
This is perhaps particularly strange because, for the most part, this doesn’t really fit how EA treats any of their other games. In the case of Madden, that’s been on PC since 2018. In the case of FIFA, that’s been on PC for over a decade. Along with the NBA Live, UFC is the only other major series to remain exclusive to consoles. Outside of EA’s licensed sports titles, you have to go back to 2013’s Peggle 2 to find an EA game that was on multiple consoles, but not on PC. What gives? I’m sure there would be plenty of players around the world that would love to play the official UFC game on PC, but EA arent’ even giving them the option. It’s hard to imagine that EA would struggle with the logistics side of releasing a game on PC, they release many games on PC each year. They even have their Origin Acess subscription service, which would surely get a boost from having another big game in its library, plus we’re expecting EA Access to launch on Steam sometime soon.
EA’s FIFA and Madden are at least available on PC for the time being:
Why Is EA UFC 4 Not On PC?
We don’t have any kind of comment or statement from EA that would explain this decision, although in a stream promoting the launch of the previous game in the series, UFC 3, this topic did come up.
The stream was a casual play session with former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson joining Geoff Harrower (Lead Gameplay Engineer) and Marc De Vellis (Senior Producer). Here’s the pertinent part of the conversation:
Johnson: Why not PC yet? Is it hard to convert it over to PC or?
Harrower: Oh man, everyone asks that question, and I can’t answer, maybe Mark can answer it, I don’t know.
De Vellis: Well Xbox and PS4 have just been our top priorities. When you look ahead to the potential UFC 4, it’s definitely on the radar.
Johnson: So we’re getting UFC 4 confirmed? We just dropped that [he is laughing because this is clearly a joke]
De Vellis: But for UFC 3, we just focus on the two consoles. It’s not hard, we can do it, I know dev team develops on PC. Obviously there’s work to be done to make sure it’s optimized for that platform, but it’s something definitely we’re looking at in the future. We hear you fans.
Quite an amusing conversation, given the present-day context of a PC version of UFC4 having indeed fallen off the radar. Clearly the two EA employees are trying to be diplomatic, and I get the feeling that Johnson was just being direct and passing on a question he’d heard his fans raise, perhaps unknowingly opening a can of worms.
I don’t think any of the participants in that conversation were trying to mislead anyone, and I certainly wouldn’t attribute any malice to the decision not to release on PC, but it certainly is an interesting question as to why this is happening. Of EA’s current games lineup, what is different about UFC 4 that has resulted in there being no PC version? We’ve got a few theories.
What Possible Explanations Are There?
It could perhaps be tied up in licensing difficulty. For big sports licenses that make up such a big chunk of EA’s output, a lot of very specific details are agreed on way in advance in the various contracts between license holders (in this case the UFC) and the licensee (in this case EA). If the original contracts did not have any provisions for doing a PC version, perhaps EA is disinclined to renegotiate if it might mean a worse deal for them overall. UFC as a sport has grown in popularity since EA first launched their UFC game series, and that would perhaps put EA in a weaker negotiating position.
It could also be that the UFC doesn’t want to have their game available on platforms that could potentially allow for widespread piracy. Honestly, I think this would be a very dated mindset, where invoking the specter of piracy on PC as a justification for not supporting the platform doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny, we know for a fact that many games sell millions of copies on PC these days. Within EA, it seems that mindset no longer persists, with them returning many of their games to Steam, and promising future new releases will hit Steam too, but it’s entirely possible that some decision-makers within UFC are still holding this opinion. It could be the case that EA’s hands are tied, and they have to go along with not producing a PC version if that is what UFC insists on.
The final theory is that it’s a straightforward business decision, where EA has some kind of market research or data analysis that indicates the costs associated with developing a PC version would outweigh the revenue generated. It’s hard to imagine that’s the case, given that FIFA and Madden are economically viable on PC, but it’s also impossible to rule out.
For whatever reason, UFC 4 is not coming to PC. The latest gameplay trailer shows what players on PC will be missing out on. Perhaps the best option is to keep letting EA know that there is a demand for UFC games on PC, to get it back on their radar. There is a fan petition here that is starting to build some momentum. We’ve asked EA for a comment on this matter, but they didn’t get back to us. We’ll update you if they do. In the meantime, I guess your options are to pick up UFC 4 on console, enjoy one of the other fighting games on PC, or simply go without.
You can still enjoy EA’s other sports games on PC, but hopefully, UFC will make the transition at some point down the line too.