OPINION

Why Bethesda’s Games Will Be Xbox and PC Exclusive

The Gaming landscape completely changed yesterday when Microsoft announced it had agreed to acquire Zenimax Media, parent company of Bethesda softworks for 7.5 Billion Dollars. Bethesda is a huge company comprised of eight studios who are known for critically acclaimed franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Starfield, Wolfenstein, Dishonored, Prey, and more. This is a monumental acquisition for Xbox, who now own more studios than Playstation or Nintendo, and have a plethora of critically acclaimed IP.

The question was quickly raised about what this means for Bethesda games on non Xbox platforms. Microsoft didn’t directly answer to what the strategy would be, but Phil Spencer did say they would release some of Bethesda’s games on other platforms on a “case by case basis.” While there are a few good reasons why Xbox would keep games like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and others multiplatform, there are plenty more reasons why Xbox will not keep these games multiplatform.

One obvious reason is that Xbox needs exclusive games. Xbox has done a fantastic job of building and acquiring studios over the last few years. Even with these moves the one criticism, fair or unfair, is that their first party lineup is underwhelming. With Bethesda becoming a first party powerhouse overnight, there is now a case to be made that Xbox has arguably the best collection of first party franchises. This makes the Xbox ecosystem extremely hard to ignore for any gamer. Keeping these games exclusive would match with what Xbox’s number one goal is which is to get people into their ecosystem. While losing out on millions of dollars from Playstation sales would hurt, in the long run it would benefit Xbox if they can grow the number of people who are tied to their ecosystem.

This ties into Gamepass, which Microsoft recently announced has reached 15 million subscribers, growing by 5 million in less than 6 months. Gamepass is the crown jewel of the Xbox strategy. They want everyone subscribed to GamePass, and having Bethesda games day one will ensure that GamePass continues to rapidly grow. Microsoft wants to be known as the ecosystem that has The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Starfield, Doom, and all the other great Bethesda IP. Releasing on competing platforms doesn’t really make sense if Xbox wants to attract non Xbox gamers to their ecosystem. They want to make Xbox undeniable, and keeping these games exclusive does that for most people.

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The only real case there is that these games might end up on other platforms is that Minecraft is on all platforms. This is a very unique case and simply isn’t applicable to what Xbox will do in the future. Minecraft was a phenomenon before Microsoft acquired Mojang, and it made more sense to let Mojang continue on their path to let all games under the Minecraft IP continue on as multiplatform. That won’t be happening for the most part with Bethesda. Games that are already released and already established, specifically The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76, will stay multiplatform.

Once the ink is dry on the deal and all other previously agreed to deals have been met, Bethesda will become a true Xbox first party. Xbox wants you in their ecosystem, and making you come to them for Bethesda games is just one way they plan on drawing players in.

Austin "Proven" Nelson

Writer and Host of "You Had Me At Halo Podcast" for XboxEra. Halo 3 apologist.

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5 Comments

  1. This definitely makes the most sense. It seems a lot of people just can’t fathom yet what has happened. The one thing I wonder is the previously agreed to deals. We know that Sony tried to secure timed exclusivity for Starfield, that didn’t happen, but maybe BGS had already made a deal with Sony to at least just bring the game to their system, just as with Xbox? Or doesn’t it work that way?

    1. Was curious about this too. I’m guessing that there was no actual agreed to deal getting Starfield on PS5. Devs are always more than free to change platforms anytime they like and are never obligated to release on one just because it was hinted at in the past. There would need to be contracts in place for that and MS could always buy their way out of those if need be. Since the timed exclusive deal never went through, no such contract exists so odds are it isn’t obligated to hit PS5 imho.

  2. If xbox has elder scrolls exclusively again. Then ES6 better be good like morrowind…

    Isn’t Eso and Skyrim the only two Elder scrolls games ever released on playstation? I dont think ps2 had morrowind, but xbox did. Was oblivion both? I absolutely hated oblivion so I dont remember. Skyrim was fun but no where near the replayability of morrowind for me.
    I dont want to buy both consoles. But I’ve had every edition of playstation and only one era of xbox, for one game. Guess I’ll buy a xbox for es6 when it drops…. 🙁

    1. Oblivion did release on PS3, but it was essentially a timed exclusive for Xbox, since it released for the 360 in March 2006, which was before the PS3 was even out.

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