Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax was one of the biggest gaming news stories of 2020 (if not the entire decade), but the acquisition hasn’t actually gone through yet. The $7.5 billion deal will be finalized some time this year, at which point Microsoft will officially own Bethesda (and all of its IP), and when that happens, Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the company is going to be “very, very critical” to the future of Xbox.
Speaking recently in an Xbox podcast (which you can view in full below), Spencer talked about the estimated timeline for the ZeniMax deal officially going through. He stated that currently, Microsoft has a hands-off approach with Bethesda’s operations (since they don’t technically own them just yet), but once the deal goes through, they’ll be a crucial cog in the Xbox machine.
“I’m excited about 2021, and Bethesda is an important part of that,” he said. “2021 is when we’ll get final approval. I feel really good about that. Everything is on track. We’ll start getting to some of the planning that we can do with them. Right now we’re really hands-off with them, as they continue to do the work that they’re doing, because we don’t own them yet.”
Spencer added, “Those teams are going to be very, very critical to our progress going forward. I can’t wait to get it closed so that we can start working like one company. I’m incredibly excited about Starfield and a lot of other things, some announced and some not announced that they’re working on. I just think they’re going to be an incredible addition to our studios.”
Of course, once that deal does go through, the question of whether or not Bethesda release in the future will be exclusive to Xbox will be a pertinent one (and has been for a while already). Bethesda’s Todd Howard has suggested that games such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 might not necessarily be Xbox exclusives, while Xbox CFO Tim Stuart has said that Microsoft doesn’t want to pull future Bethesda content off Sony and Nintendo platforms.
Spencer has also said in the past that exclusivity of Bethesda titles will be decided on a case-by-case basis in the future.