Microsoft left many people in awe last year when it announced that it was acquiring ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, one of the top video game publishers in the world.
With this move, numerous top-quality studios would end up under the umbrella of Microsoft’s Xbox division, the most important of which being Bethesda Game Studios, the people behind the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises.
Microsoft paid an insane amount of money for ZeniMax and Bethesda: a whopping $7.5 billion US dollars, with the deal now being finalized after regulatory bodies in the US and other countries approved Microsoft’s acquisition.
The Redmond giant’s move, though, might have left a question lingering in many gamers’ minds, one that Microsoft itself has yet to answer directly… Will The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield come to PlayStation 5? Also, will they hit the PS4 too?
At first, things seemed good for those gaming on PlayStation consoles, as Microsoft executive Phil Spencer said last September that the company would honor existing exclusivity deals. Bethesda games like Ghostwire: Tokyo will continue to be PS5 exclusives…
Actually, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a timed exclusive – while it’ll be releasing on PS5 this October, it’s slated to hit PC and Xbox Series X (and S) in late 2022.
Nonetheless, Microsoft allowing this to happen while being Bethesda’s owner is a clear sign of support for PlayStation. Phil Spencer did add that new games (and not ones which were already in development when it made its move to buy Bethesda and ZeniMax) would come to other platforms besides PC and Xbox “on a case by case basis”.
More recently, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a blog post that some future games would be PC and Xbox exclusives when speaking about Microsoft’s closing of the Bethesda deal.
“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”, said the head of Microsoft’s Xbox brand.
This apparently left the door open for The Elder Scrolls VI, and in a shorter time window Starfield, to be released on PlayStation consoles.
What’s clear, though, is that Phil Spencer’s wording makes it clear that any future Bethesda games will be landing on Game Pass. Xbox Game Pass is a Microsoft service for PC and Xbox console owners, which lets you play a wide selection of games for a monthly subscription fee. Game Pass supports both “download to play” and streaming, although the latter is not available for all games.
And there’s no question that both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI will be day one releases on Game Pass, at least in its “Ultimate” plan, which has everything the service has to offer.
Phil Spencer gave an even clearer signal that the Bethesda and ZeniMax acquisition was all about Game Pass more recently, speaking during a roundtable event (via The Verge). This at first seemed to send an ominous message for PlayStation users hoping to play Starfield next year, and The Elder Scrolls VI (hopefully in the not too distant future).
“If you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is that this is about delivering great exclusive 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”, said Spencer at the event.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer on exclusive Bethesda games: “This is about delivering great exclusive games for you [Xbox customers] that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists.” pic.twitter.com/K1U84pukdu
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 11, 2021
However, other things Spencer said during the Bethesda and Xbox roundtable event (see video above) appear to suggest games such as The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield could be coming to other platforms besides Xbox and PC in the future.
“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re gonna go support those games on the platforms they’re on. There’s communities of players and we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them. And even in the future there might be things that have contractual things, or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do”, said Microsoft’s vice-president of Gaming.
Giving hope to players on other platforms besides Xbox and PC is Spencer’s statement earlier at the event that “I can’t sit here and say every Bethesda game is exclusive, because we know that’s not true”.
It must also be remembered that after acquiring Minecraft and its maker Mojang, Microsoft did not restrict Minecraft to PC and Xbox only – it’s now one of the best-selling games of all time, and has shipped on almost every platform under the sun, including PS4, of course.
And taking into account that the PS4 is the fourth best-selling console of all time, and that the PS5 is expected to follow in its footsteps and also become a big hit, it’s hard to think that Microsoft will be keeping Bethesda games like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI off it for long.
These could be timed exclusives, and eventually arrive on PS5 in a year or so, like Microsoft did with the latest Tomb Raider game.
There’s also another possibility, though. Microsoft might follow Sony’s approach when it comes to putting out PlayStation exclusives on PC. For instance, Horizon Zero Dawn was released in 2017, but did not arrive on PC until summer 2020… But the more recent exclusive Death Stranding came out on PS4 in November 2019, and the PC version hit the market in July 2020.
What’s clear, and taking all the above into account, is that Bethesda exclusives like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI might not be available at launch on PS5. And these being current-gen games, they won’t be shipping on PS4 either. Plus, there’s also a possibility they won’t come to a PlayStation console at all… Hopefully, though, this is not the case, otherwise those wanting to enjoy these upcoming RPGs might be forced to fork out for an Xbox console or a gaming PC and Game Pass in the future.