Acquired

'Elder Scrolls 6', 'Starfield' news: Xbox drops a big exclusivity clue

“Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games.”

- Phil Spencer

Microsoft has officially acquired ZeniMax Media. This deal, which was first announced last September and approved this month, will bring The Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda under Xbox’s wing.

The big question post-acquisition is exclusivity. Xbox is certainly lacking in that department when compared to PlayStation or Nintendo, so Bethesda exclusives will be a major boon for the Xbox platforms and Game Pass. But does this acquisition mean games like The Elder Scrolls 6 or Starfield will be exclusive?

Here’s what Xbox has revealed about exclusivity and what that means for Bethesda’s upcoming games.

Xbox executives were quite vague about what this acquisition meant for exclusivity before it fully went through. Phil Spencer even said it would happen on a “case by case basis,” confusing fans. When the acquisition was confirmed on March 9, 2021 via Xbox Wire, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer explained what this means for exclusivity:

“With the addition of the Bethesda creative teams,” Spencer said, “gamers should know that Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players.”

Spencer did not mention any specific games in this statement, but it's the clearest messaging about Xbox exclusives yet.

What Bethesda games are still multiplatform?

Spencer only says “some new titles” in his statement though, suggesting that some games will stay multiplatform. We know what a couple of those projects are. Arkane Studios’ Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ GhostWire: Tokyo are both PlayStation 5 exclusives launching this year.

These deals were made prior to acquisition talks with Microsoft, which is why some of Bethesda’s first games after Microsoft are only on PS5 for at least one year. Meanwhile, The Elder Scrolls Online is a massively-multiplayer online available across PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Google Stadia. ZeniMax Online Studio Director Matt Firor confirmed that the game will stay multiplatform.

Finally, Bethesda has studios like Alpha Dog and Bethesda Game Studios Montreal that mainly focus on mobile games like Wraithborne and Fallout Shelter, respectively. Barring any major shifts, we wouldn’t be surprised if these teams continue to make mobile games that aren’t Xbox Series X exclusive. But what does this all mean for the big guns?

Will Starfield be an Xbox Series X exclusive?

The most significant announced Bethesda game on the near horizon is Starfield. This is a new sci-fi franchise from the team behind Elder Scrolls and Fallout, though it’s still shrouded in mystery. Xbox and Bethesda have still not confirmed if Starfield is an Xbox console exclusive at this time, but have promised to talk about games more later this year.

Starfield does seem like it would make for a solid Xbox exclusive as a brand-new franchise and a sci-fi setting that will slot in nicely next to Halo, Gears of War, and Perfect Dark. But that is pure speculation at this time. At the very least, Starfield will be on Xbox Game Pass day one.

Will The Elder Scrolls 6 be an Xbox Series X exclusive

Ultimately, it’s still too early to tell if The Elder Scrolls 6 or even some other projects like MachineGames’ Indiana Jones game will be exclusive. Bethesda hasn’t done much more than confirm the existence of these games, let alone touch on what platforms they’ll be on. They’re quite far off, so it’s possible Microsoft feels safe in making them exclusive.

Still, The Elder Scrolls series in particular has a presence on PlayStation consoles so Bethesda may still go multiplatform with it. Whenever Bethesda finally decided to show these games once again under Microsoft’s control, they will have to clarify whether or not they are exclusive.

All Bethesda games on Xbox, like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, will be on Xbox Game Pass at the very least.

Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 are in development at Bethesda Game Studios.

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