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Thoughts On: The Xbox/Bethesda Deal

By Lewis Empson

News that rocked the gaming scene last week was the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media, parent company to beloved games studio, Bethesda. This sent out a shockwave of speculation surrounding exclusive Xbox titles, impacts to already announced titles and what we could expect from future Bethesda games. We’ve rounded up some speculation plus our own thoughts as to the future of Bethesda titles.

Xbox Exclusivity:

Before everyone loses their marbles at the notion of a console exclusive Elder Scrolls or Fallout – no, these long standing continuations of beloved franchises will not be snatched away from Playstation players. Considering Elder Scrolls VI has been officially announced a couple years back and has most likely been in development for a very long time, it’s hard to believe that Bethesda would suddenly pull the Xbox Exclusive card. This would fracture the community and massively affect sales (and although I’m sure this would be beneficial to Xbox as their console sales would go through the roof), it just doesn’t make sense from the standpoint that it would alienate their customers and community. However, Bethesda has some new IPs up their sleeve with titles like Starfield on the horizon – it’s much more likely that this could become an Xbox Exclusive as its a brand new title without an existing fan base. It’s also worth mentioning that Xbox and Bethesda have said they will approach game exclusivity on a case by case basis so that suggests Xbox won’t be hoarding all the upcoming games and are looking to play nice with the likes of PlayStation and Nintendo. 

Elder Scrolls VI has likely been in development for a while, combined with the fact the fanbase is so huge, its unlikely this will become an Xbox Exclusive.

So why has this deal happened? And why Xbox?

Apparently, ZeniMax has been looking for a buyout for quite a while with EA almost acquiring it in the mid-2000s (that would have been the darkest timeline), however that fell through after a major investment resulted in them continuing to operate. Rumours earlier this year suggest Sony displayed interest in buying ZeniMax however it was their main competitor who managed to seal the deal. Now as to why Xbox decided to make the deal it all comes down to two things: Game Pass and their frankly lackluster suite of exclusives. Starting with Game Pass, this is Xbox’s most lucrative feature at the moment as it’s selling fast and getting great reviews. EA has just agreed to merge their service with Game Pass, a majority of Xbox’s first party games are on Game Pass so adding Bethesda’s fan favourite games is a no-brainer. Doom Eternal was the first new title to join the service which is a pretty major edition as it’s a fairly new title with a still active player-base. Onto Xbox Exclusives; what does Xbox Have that can compete with the likes of Sony’s frankly impenetrable line-up of exclusives? Xbox just doesn’t have the likes of its own God of War or Last of Us; however, if they can get an iconic Bethesda brand associated with them or a brand new Bethesda exclusive then they may have a chance in their uphill exclusive battle.

If Xbox can secure Starfield as an Xbox Exclusive then they can finally be back in the running for the best console for exclusives debate.

What does the future hold for Xbox/Bethesda?

Frankly, don’t expect too much to change right away, as for immediately upcoming titles they should all stay the same – including the two PlayStation 5 exclusives, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo that Bethesda, and now by extension, Xbox are developing – yeah it’s weird. However as mentioned we could see new titles shift to Xbox Exclusivity and maybe even some exclusive content for Xbox such as DLC or expansion packs. I’d also anticipate some pretty sweet looking special edition Xbox consoles at some point – a Fallout or Elder Scrolls themed Xbox Series X would be damn cool. The most exciting prospect is that now Xbox owns both Bethesda and Obsidian, maybe they can orchestrate that the two companies kiss and make up over the fallout from New Vegas (these puns write themselves I swear) and we could see a return to form for the series. Hell, we could even see a long awaited Fallout: New Vegas sequel – we can dream folks, keep your fingers crossed.