Today Microsoft answered the $7.5 billion-dollar question once and for all: Yes, future Bethesda games will be exclusive to the Game Pass ecosystem.
Microsoft's huge $7.5 billion ZeniMax Media buyout was based on one overriding goal: To beef up Game Pass by providing tons of value. Content drives subscriptions, and Game Pass has materially affected Xbox's billion-dollar earnings every year since it was launched.
In a recent roundtable discussion, Microsoft's Phil Spencer makes things pretty black and white in terms of exclusivity:
I'm going to try to be clear as I can. So obviously I can't sit here and say every Bethesda game is exclusive. We know that's not true. There's contractual obligations that we're going to see through. We always do in every one of these instances. We have games that exist on other platforms, and we're going to go support those games on the platforms they're on--there's communities of players, we love those communities, and we'll continue to invest in them.
And even in the future there might be things that have contracts or legacies on other platforms that we'll go do.
But, for an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is 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, and the creative capability we will be able to bring into market for Xbox customers is going to be the best it has ever been for Xbox after we're done here.
So there we have it. How will Sony counter this move? Could it bring Game Pass to PlayStation consoles? Hmm...
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