New clarification on Bethesda exclusivity, 20 games on Game Pass tomorrow

Today, Bethesda and Xbox held a special roundtable to talk more about the publisher joining Microsoft Game Studios, and while we didn’t get any new game announcements, we did get a few updates many have been waiting for.

The roundtable kicked off by addressing the biggest questions fans have been asking: Will Bethesda games now be exclusive to Xbox and PC?

To answer that, here is the full statement from Phil Spencer, head of Xbox:

So obviously I can’t sit here and say that every Bethesda game is exclusive, because we know that’s not true. There’s contractual obligations that we’re going to see through, as 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 either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do.

But, if you’re 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 exist. And 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 that we will be able to bring to market for our Xbox customers is going to be the best it’s ever been for Xbox after we’re done here.

– Phil Spencer

So, let’s break down what he said.

First, contractual obligations. Two upcoming Bethesda titles, Deathloop and Ghostwire, are currently set as timed console exclusives on PlayStation 5. That won’t be changing.

Second, the games that are already on other platforms will still get support. When Microsoft initially purchased Mojang, there was a concern that the company might pull Minecraft from other platforms. Obviously that didn’t happen. None of the games that currently exist on PlayStation or Nintendo platforms are going anywhere.

Third, Spencer talked about the communities already existing on other platforms. While that might have greater meaning as well, that says to me is ongoing “live service” games like Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online, so we can assume that those will continue to get the same support on non-Xbox platforms as they will on Xbox and PC.

The part that’s had some of us here at EGM disagreeing, however, is this next statement:

“And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do.”

So, the contractual part isn’t a big deal. Maybe there are contracts in place for things we don’t know about, in terms of support for older or upcoming games, or whatever else. It’s the “legacy on different platforms” that could possibly be read in a variety of ways. I could see that to mean, for example, that a remaster of a game that was on PS3 or PS4 might still come out for PS5. It could mean that games already on PlayStation or Switch would get new DLC if and when they’re released. What I don’t think it means, however, is that just because a franchise is on a non-Xbox platform now, it will continue to be active there going forward.

Especially as Spencer then goes on to explain that the goal is to deliver “great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exist.” What that tells me is that future Bethesda games could show up on Switch or PlayStation 5—if those platforms are open to having some version of the Game Pass subscription service.

So, I think if you’re a Bethesda fan and you don’t own either an Xbox or a PC, you’re going to need to consider getting one if you want to keep playing the company’s current and future franchises going forward.

Beyond statements of exclusivity, Microsoft confirmed that, as of tomorrow, 20 of Bethesda’s games will be playable on Game Pass, offering a mix of those that are already available on the service, and those that’ll officially launch on Friday. According to Xbox Wire, 16 of those games will be available “everywhere you play, whether it’s PC, console, or mobile devices through the cloud for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members.”

Here’s the full list;

Even better, some of those games will be benefiting from Microsoft’s new framerate boost technology on Xbox Series X/S, though representatives from both sides weren’t ready to say which games or when just yet.

From there, we learned that more announcements from Bethesda would be coming this summer, no doubt in connection with whatever will take the place of a live E3 event this year. And, to cap off the roundtable, we got a neat montage trailer mixing together the characters and worlds from the two companies.

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