While the Xbox 360 reigned supreme against Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, the Xbox One consoles have suffered in their fight to compete against the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Now, Microsoft is seeking victory with their acquisition of Bethesda and their studios.
For almost 8 years, Microsoft has struggled to give fans offerings that were undeniably good. The Xbox One family of consoles struggled to bring in exclusive titles that would help Microsoft’s consoles compete against the likes of Sony’s powerhouse PlayStation 4 consoles, which in turn, drummed out hit after hit as first-party exclusives.
Sony continued to hit nails into the Xbox One’s coffin with the release of all-new franchises including Horizon Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone, and a soft-reboot of the God of War franchise. On the other side of the coin, Microsoft struggled, barely being able to toss in titles that could compete with Sony’s draw. Game’s such as Halo 5: Guardians and Gears of War 4 failed to draw in the playerbase Microsoft had hoped.
The woes would continue, Microsoft would see itself cancel several big titles such as Fable Legends, Scalebound, Phantom Dust, and even Human Element. Each title promised to be bigger than the next, delivering all-new experiences that would be exclusive to Xbox One, but ultimately, they were canceled. It didn’t bode well as many fans began to adopt PlayStation consoles into their home, diving into Sony’s first-party offerings including their benefits of PlayStation Plus.
As the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generations began to come to an end, Microsoft had begun to double-down on what they could do, adopting the practice of snagging up first-party developers including Ninja Theory, Rare, Compulsion Games, Doublefine Studios, and now, Bethesda Zenimax. Their first-party offerings have grown stronger, allowing Microsoft to deliver heavy blows moving forward to Sony with exclusive titles to more likely to happen.
Microsoft’s ability to evaluate exclusivity on a case-by-case basis is stronger than ever, allowing them to lock-in franchises such as DOOM, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, and even Starfield as their own moving forward. Bethesda has already ensured that they’ll fulfill current obligations such as the exclusivity of titles such as Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop as PC and PlayStation 5 exclusives.
The acquisition has proven to be one of the best choices Microsoft could make, allowing them to not just bolster their line-up, but to also give them control of id Software’s groundbreaking id Tech engine, which currently powers many of Bethesda’s titles and could even enhance overall experiences with all of Microsoft’s games, making them more accessible than ever before.
Let alone does the acquisition bolster their line-up, it also gives Microsoft something even more powerful: Orion. Bethesda had previously teased their streaming service capabilities, enhancing their games for streaming, while also delivering a end-user friendly experience with their games. This would bold well for Microsoft as they’ve doubled down on the usability of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Cloud.
The question, however, does remain clear among potential fans: Will Bethesda operate independently as a Microsoft entity with only minor oversight of the latter, or will Microsoft be an integral part of Bethesda’s future operations? Bethesda is known not just as a powerhouse, but as a company that is fueled by its fans, its commitment to them, and its transparency about what’s going on behind the scenes.
The important part for Microsoft to maintain is that very factor, letting Bethesda do what Bethesda does, allowing them to remain almost as a separate entity within the Microsoft family while benefiting from their new status as an official Microsoft brand. The question is: How much of that is possible? We are leaning towards quite a bit due to Bethesda’s reputation.
But some fans do remain concerned that Microsoft may not do so with Phil Spencer’s statements, “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.”
However, Bethesda and Microsoft aren’t closing the doors on Sony altogether. There are obligations and a big win for Microsoft would be taking advantage of the revenue stream to be had by releasing games on all platforms available while also moving Xbox Game Pass to both Nintendo and Sony platforms, which for Microsoft, would be a massive win by offering limited-time Game Pass exclusivity for those games on Sony’s brands.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.