It’s a question of legality.
It’s hard to believe that one month ago we got the bombshell that Microsoft had purchased in full Bethesda and its parent company, ZeniMax. While the effects of that won’t be felt for at least another year, a lot of questions remain. The key one: will Bethesda titles be exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem? Logic dictates that they would be, after all, but it’s been said that Bethesda will continue on as its own brand, leaving some hope that their titles could be multiplatform. That and Phil Spencer has been cagey about whether they will be or not, only saying vague things like exclusivity would be on a case-by-case basis or that it wasn’t needed to sell Bethesda titles on other platforms to make the acquisition financially viable. Well, now we know why we haven’t gotten a firm yes or no just yet.
In an interview with GameReactor, Spencer was again asked about exclusivity. Here, in probably the clearest and cleanest answer to the question yet, he explained that he can’t really be specific about these kinds of topics yet due to legal reasons. You see, even though the deal may be full steam ahead and considered done by both parties, the actual acquisition itself has not gone through and will not officially happen until next year. So, therefore, he (and Microsoft) cannot legally make plans for the company’s future as of now.
“First of all, I would like to say that we haven’t acquired ZeniMax. We have announced our intention to acquire ZeniMax. It is going through regulatory approval and we don’t see any issues there. We expect early in 2021 the deal will close. But I say that because I want people to know, I’m not sitting down with Todd Howard and Robert Altman and planning their future. Because I’m currently not allowed to do that, that would be illegal. Your question is completely inbound, but I get a lot of questions right now: ‘is this game exclusive? Is this game exclusive?’ And right now, that is not my job in regards to ZeniMax. My job is not to sit down and go through their portfolio and dictate what happens.”
That makes sense, and also explains why it is that Spencer and others have yet to be firm about exactly what the future for Bethesda/ZeniMax IP holds until the deal is done and in ink and blood, as they say. So, if you were holding out hopes that the cageyness was a sign that maybe Bethesda could continue its multiple platform path going forward, it seems that just isn’t the case.