Xbox boss says Microsoft’s Bethesda deal was all about exclusive games for Game Pass

Microsoft completed its $7.5 billion Bethesda acquisition earlier this week and initially hinted that “some new titles in the future” would be exclusive to Xbox and PC players. That some language left some wiggle room for the possibility of future Bethesda titles to appear on Sony’s PlayStation 5, Nintendo’s Switch, or elsewhere. Now, Microsoft’s Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, is making it very clear why the company paid $7.5 billion for Bethesda: Xbox Game Pass.

Speaking during a Bethesda and Xbox roundtable event today, Spencer revealed that Xbox Game Pass is at the heart of this Bethesda deal. “If you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is that this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists,” said Spencer. “That’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building.”

It’s not a surprising admission, as it has been obvious Microsoft has been gearing up for a different kind of Xbox future with its Xbox Game Pass subscription push. But hearing it directly from the head of Xbox makes it even clearer that Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s true next-gen Xbox.

This doesn’t mean Bethesda games will suddenly disappear from other platforms. In fact, it’s the opposite. “There’s contractual obligations that we’re going to see through, as we always do in every one of these instances,” says Spencer. “We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re gonna go support those games on the platforms they’re on. There’s communities of players and we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them.”

Microsoft and Bethesda only cleared the deal recently, so it’s too early for any game announcements, but questions remain over Bethesda’s new and upcoming Starfield title and even the recently announced Indiana Jones game. Will these both be exclusive to Xbox and PC? We simply don’t know yet. Spencer did mention that “even in the future there might be things that have contractual things, or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do,” so there could potentially be new Bethesda games appearing on non-Microsoft platforms.

What’s clear is that the long-term goal is for Bethesda to create exclusive games that will only be available on platforms where Xbox Game Pass is supported. At the moment, that’s Xbox consoles, Windows PCs, Android phones, and soon, iOS devices via the web.

Here’s Spencer’s full statement on Bethesda exclusivity:

So obviously I can’t sit here and say 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 gonna go support those games on the platforms they’re on. There’s communities of players and we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them. And even in the future there might be things that have 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 that 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.

Comments

For me, this deal is similar to Disney buying Fox for Disney+

P.s. can xcloud come to nintendo and playstation via the browser?

Neither of them have browsers so nope

Some will be exclusive to Xbox: Starfield, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, Dishonored, Prey, and the The Evil Within. And some unannounced.

Some will not be exclusive to Xbox: Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online, Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Dishonored 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 76. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. And that’s because they’re already on other platforms or have contractual obligations.

If Sony allows an Xbox Game Pass app on the PS5 and PS4, then Sony gamers can play these on their machines through cloud streaming. Or they can buy the PC version. They’re always talking how they game on PS and PC.

There is minimal reason to release a Playstation version because developers are already on time crunches all the time. Remember the reason to do multiplatform is of economic necessity. However, economic necessity is not a problem in this situation. When you do multiplatform, you use up a lot of resources, requiring separate teams for each version. You also have to game design around the capabilities of multiple platforms so that each version is equivalent to every other version regardless of capability. They’re already needing to have 2 teams to do an Xbox version and a PC version.

And the other point is what developers told me (the reason why a lot of devs didn’t want to make a Windows port even though porting wouldn’t take too much work). Even when Microsoft gave them tools to easily port, they didn’t. And that is when you have a version out there, you have to support the version. And when you are stretched resource-wise, including the support staff for each version. E.g., support staff for iOS, support staff for Android, etc. So it’s often better for the company to support fewer platforms even if they lose the potential income. This is why companies often retire a product rather than just abandon it. You’ll see Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc. rip out a perfectly functional feature of some software because they no longer want to have to support the feature. Because if the product is out there, people will expect support for the product.

You realize your logic at the top doesn’t make sense, right?

They didn’t say ALL new games will be exclusive. They said some will. You can’t put an existing game on that list because it is physically impossible to make an existing game exclusive. That’s just silly.

If saying publicly "some" will be exclusive was basically a manipulative way to shield that ALL new games will be exclusive they will be destroyed when it finally comes to light.

I can understand them maybe slowly trying to ease people into it, but if that’s what they are doing they will be crushed for it. The backlash for rise of the tomb raised times 100,000,000.

I still maintain Microsoft’s base is too small to make a AAA sequel of a Bethesda title profitable, and giving it away on game pass works for older games but unless their base triples in size and game pass triples and the price goes up they will have to eat the development cost for years to come.

I get what your saying from a devs point of view, but I feel like Microsoft over values Bethesda substantially. I like older Bethesda games, but they haven’t made a really good game in a long time, and have become quite anti consumer with their practices.

And now they are with Microsoft whose entire profit relies on services and mtx and things like that.

I’m not saying it’ll fail, because it won’t. But it’s not going to change the landscape on the industry. Nintendo and Sony will continue to dominate in hardware and software, and Microsoft might close the gap a bit, but enough to make the deal profitable? Only time will tell

Are you saying that 18 million subscribers (current count) to Game Pass and however many others on PC/Xbox that want the game and are willing to pay for it directly isn’t a big enough market to make AAA games profitable?

Game Pass is the play… and they’re willing to put it on any platform.

That’s just it. 18 million people will play those AAA games without paying for them. Who pays for games they can get for free? Judging by Microsoft’s software sales since game pass started the answer to that is almost none.

It’s not a matter of Gamepass having a tiny base, it’s the fact that people are paying $15 and getting a $70+ game that costs hundreds of millions to produce/market. That isn’t going to end in profits unless they can make Gamepass the Disney+ of gaming and get 100 million users in the next few years. Otherwise, they are going to take losses.

I think they are moderating this by continuing legacy multiplatform franchises on other platforms. But for the new IP that ends up only on Gamepass, they are going to take some hits unless they slash their usual production budgets.

and that also takes Spencer at his word that they will continue other franchises on other platforms because he wasn’t super clear on that. It could very easily just be a fallback position in case gamepass doesn’t do what they hope it does, but I guess time will tell.
It takes tens of millions of sales to make any modern AAA game profitable, giving it away for free is not super conducive to that model, and their console base is just too small to hit the numbers they need. They might sell more consoles, but realistically they will probably just sell a lot more gamepass on PC/Mobile (which is their primary objective anyway), so unless they raise the price of gamepass to $50/mo they are going to take significant losses over time.

That’s just it. 18 million people will play those AAA games without paying for them. Who pays for games they can get for free?

You’re not getting it for free. You’re getting it for $15/month along with other games.
And for MS it isn’t about making a single AAA game profitable. It’s about growing their ecosystem and making Xbox a profitable business. with game pass no individual AAA will be profitable, but all the AAA + all the other games in the subscription will make Game Pass profitable and keep Xbox’s ecosystem growing.

If you only care about individual game sales to make a point in a world where Game Pass exists, then i guess you’ll win every time.

I absolutely see what Microsoft is doing and why the service has value to them. But we are talking about $150 a year (give or take depending on promotions). It’s the equivalent of buying 2-3 games a year. But those games and service aren’t free to run. With a bunch of old titles and the occasional new one it isn’t so bad, but if they really make something with a hundred million dollar budget and put it out there for almost nothing it could cause problems IF the base isn’t significantly bigger. Granted there are only 2 maybe 3 franchises that demand that kind of a budget per generation, but there is a point where if they don’t hit critical mass with the subscriber base they will eat losses every month that goes on.

That is why they are pushing so unbelievably hard to fortify gamepass. Only time will tell

yes, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo are new games that won’t be exclusive

the base for Xbox is over 2 billion. Windows, Xbox, Android, and iOS. And if Sony plays along, it will add 120 million.

Yep, very soon it will be every device with a screen.

No, Microsoft’s gaming base is about 40million. They want it to be 2 billion, but as things stand their base is still about 40million

I can understand them maybe slowly trying to ease people into it, but if that’s what they are doing they will be crushed for it. The backlash for rise of the tomb raised times 100,000,000.

What backlash? These aren’t multiplatform timed exclusives paid to be withheld from a competing box; these are Microsoft games. If people want to be crushed that Microsoft’s games are on Microsoft’s platform, there’s an easy fix, and that’s "buy an Xbox."

I still maintain Microsoft’s base is too small to make a AAA sequel of a Bethesda title profitable, and giving it away on game pass works for older games but unless their base triples in size and game pass triples and the price goes up they will have to eat the development cost for years to come.

I’m not sure why people are always operating under the assumption that PlayStation’s userbase is permanent or set in stone and Microsoft can never increase marketshare. Sony had more than 80% of the console market locked down in the 6th console generation. Actual console supremacy. They were the console market. By the end of the following console generation, they’d lost all the profits they’d built up until that point and both the Wii and the Xbox 360 had outsold the PS3. Things can change at the drop of a hat. And now that the PlayStation ecosystem has lost access to a good chunk of beloved games, and with both Nintendo and Xbox in positions far, far more advantageous than they were in 2013, it’s unlikely that Sony will have the same level of success that they did back then.

That’s just it though. They aren’t Microsoft titles. If they were to make multiplat titles exclusive (which it doesn’t seem they will do if Spencer is to be believed) then yes that is taking games away from gamers and punishing people for not buying into Microsoft’s platform. That won’t be tolerated IF they go that route. All we know for sure is that NEW Bethesda IP will be exclusive, but he said franchises that were on other platforms will remain on other platforms. So it stands to reason Fallout 5 will be on PS5 but Star Citizen won’t be, which is fair.

but if they don’t go that route then yes there will be blowback. It is still paying a ton of money to take a franchise away from people who played it in the past on their platform of choice.

Of course, things can change. No argument there from me, but if you look at what Nintendo and Sony are doing this gen there is no reason to think their bases won’t continue to be 100 million + this gen like they have been for the better part of 30+ years.

Microsoft on the other hand AT BEST never sniffed 100 million, and peaked at 80, and that was when they had a 3/4 failure rate and counted replacement consoles as new sales.

It’s not that Sony or NIntendo’s base is permanent. It is that they have proven over and over again to be the best choices in gaming. Microsoft has never been better than a 3rd choice overall.

Can Microsoft change that? Not by focusing on gamepass they can’t. Microsoft has made it crystal clear that their focus is the PC and Gaming markets, not the console ones. Why would Microsoft’s base grow when they themselves aren’t focused on doing it?

As for Sony, I don’t know why you think it is unlikely they will have the same level of success when all early indicators are they are having more success this generation than the start of the last, but when you look at the lineups and the consistency with how they have their games spread out early on there is no reason to think they won’t have more success than last time. Especially with Microsoft almost bowing out of the console game.

and realistically Playstation lost access to future Bethesda titles. Now does that mean new IPs or does that mean sequels to old franchises? He was not clear about that, so we will see. But let’s play devil’s advocate and say there will never be another Doom, Fallout, or Elder Scroll’s game on a Sony console.

Does that REALLY matter? Doom Eternal was great, but Fallout 4 was a wet fart, and 76 destroyed all goodwill they had built up. Elder scrolls is a hit, but it’s just one REAL mega-hit. And even then, it’s not REALLY a blow to Sony. If Doom 3 or Elder Scrolls 6 isn’t on Sony, then get a 14-day free pass to gamepass PC and play through the game, and be done with it. If you want to play it again you can just repurchase game pass for a month or two and be done with it. You don’t even have to get a Microsoft console to play them.

How does that hurt Sony and Nintendo? They still offer the best exclusive content in the business and the ONLY way you can play them is to buy an actual console. That isn’t true with Microsoft.

There just isn’t a real reason why things are going to be any different this generation when it comes to install bases of the top 3 consoles. Gamepass is the only thing that will likely see any real boost, but for how long? Time will tell.

The five stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It appears you’re at bargaining but you still have anger.

How so? I have a series X. I win no matter what happens. I don’t have any anger. I do think it’s wrong to steal multi-platform franchises from gamers, but "anger" is a little bit too intense of emotion for this.

Just pointing out the facts. I don’t understand why all of a sudden everything thinks that is so extreme in this situation. It’s a risk and a substantial one. There is just as good of a chance it fails then it succeeds at this point.

I just ignore the hype and look at what is actually different and what actually is happening. Sure, I can’t say it’s not a big deal. But it’s not like Microsoft all of a sudden is on the same level as Sony or Nintendo. It is for sure better than it was, but the gulf between the two was extreme for a long time. It’s going to take more than what MIcrosoft has done up to this point to close the gap.

A lot of fanboys are acting like Microsoft has done something to put it on top, when it hasn’t even gotten to the level the others are on, nevermind thrown the first REAL punch.

And no, buying studios means nothing. You can’t play a studio, you can’t pre-order a company acquisition. We’ll see what happens moving forward, but fanboys are way overrating the whole situation just a tad. Should probably wait until a game is actually released before thinking the gulf is any different than it was this time 2 years ago.

MS doesn’t need short term money from PsStore tbh. Xbox has Virtual Machine, the foundation of better-than-PC BC/FC solution, Quick Resume and xCloud (and XPA so you can even game during flights on your Alienware, Surface or "Xbox Handheld" Aya Neo), the more a user and their friends invest their time and money into Xbox ecosystem, the harder they can leave the ecosystem, this is the long term revenue / bigger pie.
xxx-as-a-service is the key.

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