Microsoft isn’t concerned with exclusivity as much as it is with what it’s calling a “first or best” approach.
Once Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax has officially gone through, everything from The Elder Scrolls and Fallout to DOOM and Wolfenstein will officially become Microsoft-owned properties. And ever since news of the acquisition has broken, questions have been asked aplenty about how Microsoft will handle exclusivity (or the hypothetical lack thereof) of all of these Bethesda properties.
Microsoft has suggested earlier that its focus is on ensuring that these games are played best on Xbox, and that exclusivity will be decided on a case-by-case basis, and more recent games certainly fall in line with that. Speaking at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference (via Seeking Alpha), Xbox CFO Tim Stuart said that rather than completely pulling Bethesda content off of PlayStation or Nintendo platforms, Microsoft will instead focus on ensuring that those games are either available first on Xbox, or are best played on Xbox, before adding that the company intends to use Bethesda content to drive its Game Pass subscriptions.
“We highly encourage cross-platform play, simply from this landscape of, if it’s good for the gaming ecosystem, it’s good for us, classic rising tide lifts all boats,” Stuart said. “What we’ll do in the long run is we don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms. We will want Bethesda content to show up the best as — on our platforms.”
“That’s not a point about being exclusive,” he continued. “That’s not a point about we’re being — adjusting timing or content or road map. But if you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that’s what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline.
“So again, I’m not announcing pulling content from platforms one way or the other. But I suspect you’ll continue to see us shift towards a first or better or best approach on our platforms.”
Microsoft’s past comments have certainly suggested that the Bethesda deal hasn’t been cemented to take that content away from other ecosystems, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer stating that the company doesn’t need to go down that road for the purposes of recouping the investment.
Bethesda Game Studios bigwig Todd Howard has also suggested that upcoming releases like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 might not necessarily be exclusive to Xbox.