Microsoft: Bethesda Games Will Be 'First, Best' On Xbox, PC

from the fragmentation dept

Several weeks back, we discussed how Microsoft and its newly acquired property, Bethesda Softworks, were making seemingly conflicting statements on what the purchase of the studio meant for beloved franchises like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, among others. Concerns popped up immediately after the acquisition, with people wondering whether the next Fallout game would be siloed to the Xbox and/or PC, as opposed to showing up on other consoles, such as Sony’s PlayStation. Xbox’s Phil Spencer kicked the concern into overdrive by noting that he thought Microsoft could recoup its purchase price of Bethesda even if the studio’s games weren’t sold for the PlayStation. Todd Howard of Bethesda, however, said the studio is committed to making its games available across platforms, while also acknowledging such details with Microsoft hadn’t been ironed out.

And so the public was left wondering. Well, now Microsoft has once again commented publicly, this time stating that it doesn’t plan to restrict Bethesda games from other consoles, but would instead look to make those games “first and best” on the Xbox and PC.

Speaking at the Jeffries Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference last Friday (as transcribed by Seeking Alpha), Stuart said directly that “in the long run… we don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms.”

“That’s not a point about being exclusive,” Stuart continued. “That’s not a point about… 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, frankly, clarifies nothing. Stating that perhaps games will be “first” on Microsoft’s platforms and then stating that it has nothing to do with timing of the release on other platforms is contradictory. If it’s “first” on one platform, it must therefore be at least “second” on others. Likewise, stating you want a game to be “best” on Microsoft platforms and then stating it has nothing to do with content is, again, contradictory. If not the content, what could possibly make a game better on one platform than the other.

It’s unclear why Microsoft is remaining so opaque about all of this, but it sure sounds like some version of either EPIC’s timed exclusives or Sony’s exclusive content for games. Both are controversial in their own rights, and likely not great for the gaming ecosystem as a whole, but at least both companies play it straight with their customers.

In this case, we all just have to wait and see how high a fence Microsoft does or does not want to put around these beloved game franchises.

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Companies: bethesda, microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft: Bethesda Games Will Be 'First, Best' On Xbox, PC”

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23 Comments
radix (profile) says:

The deal isn’t done yet.

No doubt they have internal analysis about which monetization methods will lead to the greatest revenue, but sharing that publicly right now could gum up any regulatory investigations that might arise out of such a large acquisition. Getting too public about it, just in case things fall apart, could harm both companies down the road. They have to continue to operate as separate entities for the time being.

Zos (profile) says:

Interesting you should bring up Epic

Every single major release this year epic cut a deal on has also shown up as a day one release for gamepass xbox and pc versions. mechwarrior 5, outer worlds, wasteland 3 all spring to mind.
spreading gamepass across both has definitely pulled some money from steam i’d have spent there otherwise, but their slow patching is still hindering them

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Interesting you should bring up Epic

outer worlds, wasteland 3

First of all, do you mean outer wilds? Because I saw Outer Worlds on GOG. I also saw Wasteland 3 on GOG, as that was crowdfunded through fig and some of the people who backed it through that platform (as opposed to investing in it) wanted to play it on Steam or GOG (or itch.io, whichever). I know this for a fact because I’m one of those people who backed Wasteland 3 on FIG and received it through GOG. It was worth every penny and then some!

Bruce C. says:

Waiting for Bethesda...

Don’t have to wait. Even before the acquisition, Bethesda put out multiple releases of Skyrim for different platforms — sometimes years apart. So rather than forcing exclusives for artificial marketing, it seems more like MS is prioritizing specific platforms to avoid over-hiring staff just to have simultaneous releases. Prioritizing Xbox/PC is obvious self-interest.

If this hypothesis is correct, PS5 (also on AMD) versions could come out simultaneously but unoptimized or slightly later with some optimizations. Other platforms like phones could take longer.

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

All the best

|Bethesda… will be best.

Allow me to reply with an honest and heartfelt rebuttal based upon decades of experience and interaction with Bethesda products:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha he he ha ha!! Snort giggle tee-hee oh gawd, my sides… I can’t breathe…

Thank you, that is all.

Darkness Of Course (profile) says:

The targets aren't very different

Just take a breath. Both PS5 and Xbox whatever run on AMD Application SOC, the delta between their choices are not very significant. Granted there will be fine tuning required, but most of that is handled in libraries anyway.

The differences between them and a PC is also minimal. Either way, it will happen as it does, and PS5s will get the games.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: The targets aren't very different

Architecture is one thing, but what about operating system? Windows and Mac may both run on Intel chips, but that doesn’t mean you can run a Windows executable on a Mac. I doubt XBox and PS5 have even vaguely compatible OSes. With that said, if they run on a game engine that exists on both platforms, maybe it’s write once-ish run anywhere. I don’t know that much about game development specifically.

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leonardperkins says:

Awesome post

What we’ll do in the long run is we don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms. We will want Bethesda content to show up the best as — on our platforms. https://american-writers.org/

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Anonymous Coward says:

Options are best but...

Right now we have options:
-the option to play games on different hardware
-the option to either buy physical or digital games
-the option to stream games
These are the best of times to be a gamer because we have options, but, unfortunately, we’re headed for a digital only gaming future because it’s more profitable for publishers. I don’t look forward to digital only gaming, but hopefully:
-digital games will be cheaper than physical
-digital games will have the same return policies as physical
-gamers will be able to trade/resale digital games just like they can physical games.
Otherwise, I’ll be a retro (read: physical copy only) gamer.

bhull242 (profile) says:

I don’t normally defend Microsoft and especially not Bethesda, but I think I have an idea for how games could be “best” on PC/Xbox without being about content, specifically. Basically, with the inside knowledge from Microsoft, the idea might be to make Bethesda games optimized for PC and XBox consoles.

Similarly, it’s possible “first” merely means “first-rate”.

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