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:
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.