Phil Spencer: Bethesda acquisition “is about delivering great exclusives games” for Xbox Game Pass

With the full Bethesda acquisition now complete, Phil Spencer has given a fairly comprehensive statement of intent about Bethesda, Xbox and exclusive games. Essentially, unless there’s a contractual requirement or an obligation to a previously released title, Bethesda games will be Xbox and Microsoft exclusive games going forward.

During today’s round table with key Microsoft and Bethesda figures, Spencer said:

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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 to see through, as we always do in these instances. 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. Even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things or legacy on different platforms that we’re going to do.

But, if you’re an Xbox customer the thing I want you to know is that this is about delivering great exclusives games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists. That’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building.

Bethesda and Microsoft had previously been a little bit evasive about this point, prior to the acquisition going ahead – the companies could not alter their working relationship up until that point, so Microsoft could not dictate business moves to Bethesda. That’s led to Spencer saying that future games would be considered for “other consoles on a case by case basis.”

This is now seemingly being ruled out. “This is about delivering great exclusives games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists,” Spencer said, which currently means Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10 and Android, with other mobile and TV platforms possible in future.

However, there are contractual obligations. Spencer confirmed in September that existing deals will be honoured, so Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will still have timed exclusivity on PS5. Additionally, it seems that he is lightly suggesting that there could be other contracts that we do not know about, whether it’s for a known project or something  yet to be revealed. The newly announced Indiana Jones licensed game by Wolfenstein developer MachineGames is a licensed property from Lucasfilm Games, and they might have certain conditions with regard to the game’s launch platforms. The deal was signed prior to Microsoft’s ownership, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the fullness of time.

Since this is all about Xbox Game Pass, it makes sense that Microsoft has been incredibly quick to add a bunch of Bethesda games to Game Pass. From tomorrow, 12th March, there will be an additional 12 Bethesda games added to Game Pass, making for a total of 20 games.

Source: YouTube

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11 Comments

  1. Well this will suck – with Sony having closed Studio Liverpool and Japan Studio in the last few years, Sony will have a mountain to climb.

    • Ready to feel old? Studio Liverpool’s closure was 8 years ago in 2012.

  2. Of course, we all knew that already: no more Bethesda games on PlayStation, except for the odd contract case, like Deathloop. Goodbye Elder Scrolls, Fallout, etc.

  3. Still hasn’t entirely cleared it up though, has it? Given Microsoft’s history of “it’s exclusive, honest, nothing timed about it” announcements.

    By the time any new Elder Scrolls or Fallout happens, they might have discovered they’re losing in hardware sales again. Which seems incredibly likely. Still quite possible they might decide they’ve spent billions and aren’t going to get that back without those extra sales from other platforms. And then announce ES6 as “exclusive”, put it on Game Pass and then everything else a year later.

    And the “platforms where Game Pass exists” thing almost sounds like a desperate “Game Pass is our thing now. Can we have it on other consoles, please?”. I guess if it gets big enough, Sony might even think about allowing that. If MS allowed Sony to sell Game Pass subscriptions and take their cut along with their share of all the DLC and microtransactions, it might be profitable for Sony. They’d still have all the proper exclusives that MS don’t have on top of all that.

    Of course, MS will probably get greedy and eventually start putting up the price of Game Pass until everyone runs away from it.

    • It is about as unambiguous as he can be without discussing specific contracts that Microsoft is now beholden to. He’s also previously said that they don’t need cross-platform for this deal to be worthwhile for them.

      • They want it to sound unambiguous. But they’ve got history of claiming “exclusive” when they mean “timed exclusive”.

      • Since the Rise of the Tomb Raider debacle now have a standard “console launch exclusive” phrase when introducing games that are timed exclusives. Yes, it’s obfuscated and yes, the messaging gets a bit muddled around that at times in follow up when talking to developers, but that’s no different to Sony. This is all only for third parties though. Bethesda is now first party.

        We’ll see, but do not expect Microsoft to give up any kind of competitive advantage or draw to their broad platform. If a PS5 owners wants to play Elder Scrolls 6? They can get an Xbox or sub to Game Pass and play on phone/TV app/tablet/PC via browser.

  4. I have no problem with Microsoft retaining some games as exclusives but they’ll have to be smart about it. That investment won’t pay for itself – and is unlikely to be paid off any quicker by focusing solely on the xbox market. Timed-exclusives on the next Fallout and Starfield might be tolerable but if they keep them as full xbox exclusives a lot of folks are going to be upset.

    • With the last known number of Game Pass subscribers, they paid about 3.5 years worth of Game Pass money for those games. If they didn’t spend anything else on anything else for Game Pass. And didn’t pay any taxes or any costs for running the thing.

      But the number of subscribers is still going up, so it’ll be less than 3.5 years. Except that increase seems to have slowed. Maybe MS are hoping all those Bethesda games will help the subscriber numbers increase again.

      The question is how much does that matter to MS? How long do MS put up with losing billions before they decide to change their strategy again?

      Give it 3 or 4 years, an Elder Scrolls or Fallout game that doesn’t get as good a reception as they hoped, and a load of people leaving the various studios to do their own thing, and we could get a half-arsed port of some games to other consoles before whatever’s left gets absorbed into MS.

      Or it might all work out for MS.

      On the plus side, I won’t be buying several copies of ES6, unlike Skyrim.

      • With 105billion dollars to hand and 13billion dollars revenue this last quarter I really don’t think they need to release the games on competing hardware.

  5. This is hardly surprising. Microsoft have gone big in acquiring studios and it definitely closes the potential gap in terms of exclusive content. Microsoft could also capitalise on the farcical situation in Japan with Sony & Japanese censored content not to mention the reduction of staff at JP Studio. Taking on those employees and setting up a studio or buying a JP publisher such as SEGA gives them the real advantage in the long term.

    Sony need to act on PS+ & PS Now as they lag so far behind Gamepass. Considering the number of Playstation games since the PS1 days, its shocking that not more PS1, PS2 games are on PS Now. Hopefully this changes in the future. They also need to get Bluepoint games.

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