Microsoft to release future Bethesda games on other consoles “on a case-by-case basis”

Laurent Giret

Xbox + Bethesda

Microsoft made a groundbreaking announcement this morning with the acquisition of ZeniMax Media Inc., the company behind the massive video game publisher Bethesda Softworks. The $7.5 billion deal will get Microsoft to bring all future Bethesda games to Xbox Game Pass for Console and PC on day one, though it wasn’t really clear if future Bethesda games would become exclusive to Xbox and Windows.

There was also some confusion about two of Bethesda’s upcoming games, Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo, which will be timed exclusives on PlayStation 5. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Xbox head Phil Spencer have now clarified in an interview with Bloomberg that Microsoft will respect existing timed-exclusivity deals with Sony and bring new Bethesda games to other consoles “on a case-by-case basis.”

Microsoft will keep that commitment, Spencer said in an interview. Future games, like Starfield, will be available for Xbox, PC and Microsoft’s Game Pass video-game service. “We’ll take other consoles on a case-by-case basis,” Spencer said.

Nadella said Microsoft may consider releasing games on other platforms in the future. “When we think about strategy whether it’s in gaming or any other part of Microsoft, each layer has to stand on its own for what it brings. When we talk about our content we want our content to be broadly available.”

During this console generation, Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have been lagging behind Sony’s and Nintendo’s offerings, with the PlayStation 4 becoming the lead platform with more than 110M units sold. It would make little sense for Microsoft to stop supporting these platforms with massive userbases, and the Redmond giant didn’t shoot itself in the foot by making Minecraft an Xbox exclusive after purchasing Mojang back in 2014.

In his blog post announcing the acquisition, Pete Hines SVP, Global Marketing and Communications at Bethesda emphasized that the company would not change how it operates. “The key point is we’re still Bethesda. We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us,” the exec said. It doesn’t seem that Bethesda is willing to change its cross-platform strategy, and it probably doesn’t need to in the immediate future.