Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda Software parent company, Zenimax Media, is complete, the company announced today. While the full ramifications of the deal will play out in the months and years to come, Xbox boss Phil Spencer did confirm one thing: some of Bethesda’s future games will be exclusive to Microsoft’s platforms.
“With the addition of the Bethesda creative teams, gamers should know that Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players,” Spencer wrote in today’s blog post.
Last fall when the deal was first announced, Spencer said that it would honor Bethesda’s existing terms of agreements to make Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo PS5 console exclusives, but would decide which of the publisher’s future games to make multiplatform on a “case-by-case” basis. Today’s news makes it clear that at least some of them will be exclusive to Xbox and PC, but it’s still unclear which those will be.
Bethesda is currently working on The Elder Scrolls VI as well as a new scifi RPG called Starfield. Presumably the company will also be putting out a new Doom and Fallout in the next decade. At the same time, it’s possible today’s comments about exclusivity might apply to new games Bethesda hasn’t even announced yet, and that aren’t sequels to its existing popular series.
In the past, Spencer has said that upcoming Bethesda games will release day and date on Game Pass, Microsoft’s Netflix-like subscription service for games. It’s now clear that more of the publisher’s existing back catalog is also expected to come to the platform. Spencer said some of them will be joining the platform as early as later this week. Last night, VGC reported that this news will come in the form of a video presentation on March 11.
The official completion of the Bethesda acquisition means Microsoft now has 23 studios developing games for it. The company spent the end of the last console generation going on a spending spree, acquiring the likes of DoubleFine, Obsidian, and others, with an eye toward beefing up its line-up of strong first-party exclusive Xbox games. Despite these efforts, the initial release schedule for the Xbox Series X/S has been lacking so far. However, Xbox Director of Program Management Jason Ronald said in a recent podcast that Microsoft still has some as-of-yet unannounced Xbox games coming out later this year.
Update - 1:37 p.m. ET, 3/11/21: During a “Bethesda Joins Xbox” roundtable discussion today, Spencer elaborated a little bit on what the Bethesda acquisition will mean in the future, saying the focus was on “delivering great exclusive games.” Spencer went on:
So obviously I can’t sit here and say every Bethesda game is exclusive because we know that’s not true – there are contractual obligations that we’re going to see through as we always do in every one of these instances. We have games that exists on other platforms and we’re going to go support those games on the platforms that they are on. There are communities of players, we love those players, and we’re going 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, 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.
That certainly sounds like a lot more than “some” of Bethesda’s upcoming games will be exclusive to Xbox and PC.