Ever since Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media was first announced, most gamers have been wondering how Microsoft is going to handle exclusives. It’s a big question, because before this buyout, franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and DOOM were some of the most popular multiplatform titles around. Of course, many people assumed that Microsoft would make the vast majority of Bethesda games exclusive to Xbox and PC, and today we got confirmation of that.
During today’s Microsoft roundtable with Bethesda, Xbox chief Phil Spencer indicated that while Microsoft will continue to honor existing exclusivity contracts that were in place at ZeniMax before the acquisition, the main intention is to make Bethesda’s games exclusive to platforms that support Xbox Game Pass.
“So obviously I can’t sit here and say ‘every Bethesda game is exclusive,’ because we know that’s not true – there’s contractual obligations that we’re going see through as we always do in every one of these instances,” Spencer said after being asked about exclusivity by Bethesda VP of marketing Pete Hines. “We have games that exist on other platforms and we’re going to go support those games on the platforms they’re on; there’s communities of players, we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them.”
“And even in the future there might be things that have either contractual things or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do,” Spencer continued. “But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists. And that’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building, and the creative capability we will be able to bring to market for our Xbox customers is going to be the best it’s ever been for Xbox after we’re done here.”
So, if you’re a PlayStation adherent hoping that maybe Microsoft would continue to offer major franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout on your platform of choice, Spencer’s statement on the matter doesn’t really paint an encouraging picture. Of course, Spencer did say that the goal is to deliver these games on platforms where Game Pass is available, and that could in theory include PlayStation 5 at some point in the future. Obviously, it doesn’t seem likely that Sony would allow Game Pass on PlayStation 5, but strange things happen all the time in the games industry.
For the moment, though, those looking to play Bethesda games in the future are probably best served by picking up a platform that supports Game Pass, whether that’s an Xbox Series X|S, a gaming PC, or an Android phone.