In a long interview with the Kotaku site, Phil Spencer seems to confirm that future Bethesda titles will be reserved for the Xbox ecosystem.
As the launch of the next generation of consoles approaches, with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, it is important for Microsoft to be clear about its strategy. This notably involves river interviews of Phil Spencer, the boss of Xbox, with the press. One of the last strong announcements of the firm happens to be the takeover of the Zenimax group, owner of Bethesda for 7.5 billion dollars. With this acquisition, Microsoft recovers 8 additional development studios and popular franchises like Elder Scrolls (Skyrim), Fallout, Doom or even Wolfenstein.
Bethesda was known to release some of its games on as many platforms as possible, to the point of being ridiculous, and the takeover by Microsoft immediately raised the question of the future of licenses. Will Microsoft continue to publish certain games on competing platforms like the firm does with Minecraft games? Or will the brand create a strong exclusivity catalog to encourage more and more players to join its ecosystem, and in particular its Xbox Game Pass service? In an interview with Kotaku, Phil Spencer brought up the subject.
The profitability of the buyout can be done without PlayStation
The site’s first question concerns the profitability of a $ 7.5 billion buyout. For some analysts, Microsoft will be releasing Bethesda games on PlayStation like the next Elder Scrolls to accelerate the payback for the buyout. To the precise question ” Is it possible to monetize a $ 7.5 billion investment by not selling Elder Scrolls VI on PlayStation? », He answers a« Yes »Limpid.
He then details his answer.
This buyout was not made for the purpose of removing games from another installed base of players like this. Nowhere in the documentation we have gathered does it discuss “how to prevent other players from playing these games”. We want more people to be able to play, not less people to be able to play. But I’ll also say that in the model – I’m just answering your question directly – when I think about where people are going to play and how many devices we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our installed base of consoles, I don’t need to sell these games on any platform other than the ones we support for the buyout to work for us. Whatever that means.
In other words, without completely closing the door to a release of a game on PlayStation, Phil Spencer wants to be very clear on the absence of obligation for Microsoft to do so. In his response, he mentions the larger ecosystem of the giant. Where a Sony exclusivity is only released on PlayStation consoles (then possibly on PC eventually for exceptional cases), Xbox Game Studios games are released on Xbox console, but also on PC and on the group’s cloud gaming offer, making games accessible to Android devices. So it won’t necessarily be necessary to buy an Xbox console to play future Zenimax games, but you will probably need to be in the Xbox ecosystem.
Phil Spencer doesn’t say at any point that Microsoft will never release games on PlayStation obviously, but his response in this interview seems clearly thought out to calm the expectations of gamers hoping for cross-platform releases.
Nintendo Switch games release is unsustainable
The question of the relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo was also raised in the interview. Indeed, two characters belonging to Microsoft franchises have arrived in the game Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Steve from Minecraft, and Banjo-Kazooie from the eponymous game), and several Xbox exclusives like Cuphead and the Ori series have been released on Nintendo Switch.
However, Phil Spencer wants to cool down expectations, releasing Xbox Game Studio games on a case-by-case basis on Nintendo Switch “does not seem sustainable”. He adds that to really support the Switch, he would like the console to fully support the Xbox ecosystem, which means for example an integration of Xbox Live (with cloud saves or achievements), but also Xbox Game. Pass. It therefore seems that the future of Microsoft on Nintendo Switch will pass through its cloud gaming service, which would allow this full experience with a simple app, or will not pass.
The time of consolidation for Microsoft
If we connect all the points of this interview, we understand that Microsoft now wants above all to bet on its games for its own extended ecosystem. Xbox Game Studio games will be released on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, but also on PC and in its cloud gaming offering. In principle, this makes it possible to reach a large number of potential players without having to release the games on competing consoles.
This ecosystem should also continue to evolve in 2021 with the expected arrival of xCloud on Windows 10 and on iOS. Phil Spencer also confirmed that the cloud gaming service will be offered on Xbox consoles, and even Xbox One. This will kind of allow the console to access the games of the next generation. He did indicate, however, that the launch of xCloud on Xbox One was not on the agenda, and puts this behind the release on PC and iOS in terms of priority.
Some Bethesda games could be released on PlayStation in the future, we are thinking of the next expansion for Elder Scrolls Online or Fallout 76, but this will obviously be an exception.