Microsoft has struck another early blow in the next-generation console war with its purchase of Bethesda Softworks, which makes and publishes some of the world’s biggest and most popular gaming franchises.
That’s almost certainly going to lead to a boost in Xbox Series S/X exclusives. However, where does that leave Sony PS5 buyers hoping to play future instalments of the Fallout, Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls and Doom franchises games on the next-gen console they may have pre-ordered?
Well, right now the future is entirely unclear. It appears that the first two Bethesda games previously announced as timed-exclusives for the Sony PS5 will indeed remain as such. The already-announced Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will respect the status quo, with Microsoft’s Head of Xbox Phil Spencer telling Bloomberg it plans to ‘keep the commitment’.
As for everything else, all bets are off. Spencer says that future releases on other consoles will be considered on a “case-by-case basis.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella added: “When we think about strategy whether it’s in gaming or any other part of Microsoft, each layer has to stand on its own for what it brings. When we talk about our content we want our content to be broadly available.”
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This means that games under the Bethesda banner won’t automatically become first-party exclusives for PC and Xbox. However, we wouldn’t bank on the big guns launching on PS5 in the near future – and for very good reason. Microsoft trailed the Sony PS4 in terms of high-profile first-party exclusives during the last generation, so the Xbox-maker will doubtless use this purchase to redress the balance somewhat.
As well as Fallout, Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom, Bethesda also works on the likes of Dishonored, Prey and The Evil Within with Arkane Studios and Tango Gameworks, so the future of those second-tier franchises are also in the considerations moving forward.
The company’s next AAA franchise is Starlight, its first new IP in over ten years, which is now in full production. It had been confirmed for PS5, but this is now in serious question, given the acquisition.
The Elder Scrolls 6 is also in production, while a Fallout 5 announcement continues to be rumoured. It’s possible they’ll now be Xbox Series X/S (and maybe PC) exclusives.
Existing games released for PS4, such as Doom Eternal and Fallout 76, should be backwards compatible on the PS5, so there’s no fear of those titles disappearing from the platform.