What Microsoft’s Acquisition of Bethesda Could Mean

Will Bethesda games be exclusive to Xbox now?


Could Bethesda Games Exclusively Release on Xbox?

Beyond the potential for improvement that Microsoft resources could provide to Bethesda, there’s the ever-present and quite important question of exclusivity. If Microsoft is buying Bethesda, what would their incentive be to release their games on their primary rival: the PlayStation. Five years ago I would have thought that there wasn’t a chance of Microsoft releasing their games anywhere other than on Microsoft machines, but there’s one detail that complicates things: Game Pass. Microsoft’s heavy push for making Game Pass the best, most affordable way to play games might end up making the games that result of the Bethesda acquisition more broadly available than they otherwise would be. Their marketing strategy is no longer “buy here instead of there”, making the push for exclusivity vital, but rather, it’s “buy here, it’s cheaper, easier, and the game will run far better”. Since midway through the Xbox One lifecycle and the release of the powerful Xbox One X, Microsoft has been pumping up its prowess at being the best place to play third-party games, having the smoothest performance. If Microsoft can realize their dreams of offering games on Xbox consoles, PCs, and via xCloud, the likelihood of a PlayStation release seems more reasonable. If consumers see that they could pay $15/month for Game Pass versus $70 for the same standalone game, perhaps they would see the value of Game Pass and switch ecosystems. This way Microsoft benefits from purchases by the PlayStation userbase while also converting a portion of its users to Microsoft. Even if this only happens for tentpole releases like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout, the buzz could be enough to convert some users.

(Mostly) tech writer based in NYC. Other interests include movies, games, music, soccer, and traveling. You’ll find a little bit of all of that here.