Xbox says Bethesda deal ‘was not done to take games away' from other platforms

Elder Scrolls 6
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Will The Elder Scrolls 6 be exclusive to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S? Since Microsoft’s unexpected acquisition of Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax last month it’s a question that many have asked. Despite this, the future remains unclear for Elder Scrolls and other big Bethesda franchises on the PlayStation platform.

When head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, was asked in a recent interview with Kotaku if Microsoft would be able to recoup its $7.5 billion investment in Bethesda without selling Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation his immediate response was “yes”.

However, Spencer also said that securing exclusives wasn't necessarily the primary aim of the deal with Bethesda:

"This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games.”

Going back to the question asked of him, though, Spencer made it clear that “I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us.”

Overall, Spencer’s response doesn’t provide much more clarity over whether or not PlayStation 5 owners will be able to play Bethesda titles further down the line. The fact that Microsoft can recoup its huge investment without releasing Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation 5 doesn’t definitively mean it's going to make the game an Xbox exclusive. But it also means it could.

What does the future hold?

Of course, as Microsoft has previously said that exclusivity will be decided on a "case-by-case basis", it’s quite possible that these decisions haven’t been made yet. Given the next generation hasn’t even kicked off and some of Bethesda’s most highly-anticipated next-gen titles, including The Elder Scrolls 6, don’t have release years never mind dates, Xbox likely isn’t in any great hurry to make any resolute statements. 

In fact, keeping things vague prior to the launch of the next-gen consoles could work in Microsoft’s favor; for players who feel more loyalty towards game series like The Elder Scrolls than they do for the PlayStation or Xbox brands, even the chance of exclusivity could potentially influence their choice of console in these pre-order stages. 

Even if Microsoft did eventually turn around and release Bethesda’s big franchises on PS5, those who picked up an Xbox at launch just to be absolutely sure of playing Elder Scrolls 6 aren’t likely to be too regretful as, thanks to Game Pass, Xbox will likely be the cheapest place to play Bethesda’s games from day one anyway. 

At the moment, it’s hard to predict which way Microsoft will go when it comes to the exclusivity of big-name Bethesda releases. Although Spencer has now made it clear that releasing The Elder Scrolls 6 on PS5 wouldn’t be necessary to make the deal with Bethesda worth it, he’s also said that Microsoft wants to “grow the market” rather than limit it. 

It’s possible – likely even – that we won’t get an answer to this question until after the next-gen consoles launch next month. Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will launch on November 10 around the world, while the PS5 will launch on November 12 in select markets, such as the US and Japan, before coming to the rest of the world on November 19.

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Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.