Microsoft want Bethesda games "either first or better or best" on Xbox platformsPlatforms: All
After Microsoft dropped $7.5 billion to acquire Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media, it was always expected that they would want to reap the benefits of that investment in some way. After some concern from fans and much speculation within the industry, even from within Xbox and Bethesda themselves, Xbox has finally offered some substantial clues about what their gameplan is regarding the vast slate of Bethesda IPs they now own.
According to Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart, while addressing the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference (thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript), the fears of gamers and industry figures alike should be somewhat allayed as Microsoft currently has no intention of "pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise".
He went on to say: "When we think about Bethesda, it's going to […] continue to sell their games on the platforms that they exist today, and we'll determine what that looks over time and will change over time. I'm not making any announcements about exclusivity or something like that. But that model will change."
The way that model would change appears to be to offer Bethesda's content "either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms."
The phrasing there could suggest timed exclusivity but not as a rule, Stuart continued: "That's not a point about being exclusive. That's not a point about we're being -- adjusting timing or content or road map. But if you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that's what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline."
This makes a lot of sense, Microsoft wants to shift focus towards selling Game Pass subscriptions and also selling platforms based on getting access to Game Pass, as well as xCloud subscriptions. This is why Microsoft intend to offer all major Bethesda releases on the service from day one of release; Game Pass was always going to be a major part of this deal.
And it is unlikely to stop at Bethesda. While speaking at GlitchCon, Xbox top dog Phil Spencer suggested a plan to acquire more studios and titles, "We'll double the size of our studios organization when we add Bethesda, and we're going to continue to invest in great games so that people can find their next favourite game on our platform."
While it would be entirely reasonable for Microsoft to claim exclusive rights to the massive arsenal of Bethesda franchises, many of which are legitimate system sellers, it is commendable that they are considering options to reach a far broader audience.