It was in September, just before pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and S went up, that the video game industry was shaken with the announcement that Microsoft has purchased Bethesda in full with all their IPs and studios. While we obviously won’t see the effects of that for another year at least, it is something that essentially realigns the market as we know it. There’s strong feelings many ways about it, but one question remains: will Bethesda titles be on other non-Microsoft supported platforms? There has yet to be a concrete yes or no answer there, but it seems the head of Xbox is leading us down the road to an eventual no.
While logic dictates that all of Bethesda’s output will now be exclusive to the Xbox-ecosystem (which includes as of now the Xbox One, Series X, Series S, PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming), some have hoped that it’s possible Microsoft will still allow Bethesda titles on other platforms because, apparently, the plan is still to allow Bethesda to publish titles under their brand. Xbox Head Phil Spencer has also danced around the question, saying that exclusivity would be on a “case-by-case basis.”
In an interview with Kotaku, Spencer once again addressed the question. When asked if they would have to put Bethesda titles (specifically in relation to the next Elder Scrolls title) on other platforms to make the mammoth $7.5 billion dollar worth it, he dismissed the idea. He said that the addition of Bethesda’s many titles and IPs to the likes of Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming would extend the reach and audience of those programs. That is all it needs for the deal to “work for” Microsoft.
“I don’t want to be flip about that. This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.”
So while again Spencer does not directly answer the question, it seems reading between the lines that the answer we’re going to end up on is to not expect Bethesda titles on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms going forward. Though, one could argue that Spencer, or anyone at Microsoft, not answering the question directly is strange. Is it possible that part of the deal is not decided, yet? While we know the amount that was paid for Bethesda, we have no idea what the finer details could be and what concessions where made on both sides to make it happen.
Though, that is probably wishful thinking more than anything. It’s probably for the best to just assume going forward that if you want to play anything under the Bethesda umbrella, you’ll need something Xbox-related.