Earlier today, Microsoft announced plans to purchase ZeniMax Media in a deal that’s massive in every sense of the word. Microsoft is shelling out $7.5 billion to own ZeniMax and its subsidiaries such as Bethesda, id Software, Machine Games, and Arkane Studios, which means that once the deal is complete, Microsoft will own the Fallout, Elder Scrolls, DOOM, Quake, and Wolfenstein IPs (among others). With ZeniMax and its properties joining the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, there’s a big question about the future of these game franchises and the existing exclusivity deals with companies other than Microsoft.
In fact, that could be the biggest question mark heading into this acquisition. Fallout and The Elder Scrolls have been mainstays on consoles since the days of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and these days it seems like DOOM and Wolfenstein are among the more popular multi-platform releases.
At the moment, ZeniMax has two upcoming timed exclusives for PlayStation 5, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. Speaking to Bloomberg, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that Microsoft would continue to honor those exclusivity deals, which comes as little surprise – Microsoft probably doesn’t have much leeway with those contracts, and even if it did, history suggests that Microsoft would honor previously-confirmed release plans (such as with The Outer Worlds, which released for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch despite the fact that Microsoft purchased Obsidian in the middle of development).
But what of other ZeniMax games that have traditionally been multi-platform? Spencer tells Bloomberg that while future games will be available on Xbox, PC, and Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft will “take other consoles on a case-by-case basis.”
So, while future Elder Scrolls and Fallout games might get multi-platform releases, it seems more likely that they’ll be exclusive to Xbox and PC. With this ZeniMax buyout, Microsoft is setting itself up to challenge Sony’s extensive library of exclusive games, which made the PlayStation 4 the console to have in the current generation. We’ll see what happens from here, but it’s looking like PlayStation fans might have to get their Elder Scrolls and Fallout kicks on another platform from here on out.