Microsoft has been trying to expand the number of exclusive titles on Xbox to counter popular Sony properties like Spider-Man, Horizon, God of War, and more. Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer just confirmed they’ve got a big one planned. Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax, The Elder Scrolls VI will only be available on Microsoft platforms. That’s not going to sit well with some gamers.
ZeniMax sold to Microsoft in September 2020 for $7.5 billion, but that might end up being a bargain. By acquiring ZeniMax, Microsoft gained control over franchises like Doom, Fallout, and The Elder Scrolls (TES). Initially, Microsoft was careful about promoting Xbox exclusivity of its new property. Executives used phrases like “‘either first or better” to describe its Bethesda launch strategy.
The Elder Scrolls is not the first exclusive to come out of the deal. The upcoming sci-fi epic Starfield was revealed earlier this year as an Xbox and PC exclusive as well. New games are one thing, but TES has a reputation for running on every single platform — Bethesda has released Skyrim so many times in so many places that there are memes about it. You can play Skyrim on the PS3, PS4, PS5, or Nintendo Switch, but the sequel won’t be there, reports Ars Technica. It will only be on Xbox and PC.
As recently as late 2020, Bethesda execs were public in their belief that the new Elder Scrolls would come to non-Microsoft platforms. However, TES is a very popular franchise. TES VI is one of the few titles that might actually encourage gamers to go with an Xbox over a PlayStation. You can understand why Microsoft reversed course as it’s in danger of playing second banana to Sony two generations in a row.
If Microsoft can make it to release without being eaten alive by angry gamers, this could be the beginning of a new strategy. The Xbox Series X is lagging far behind in sales to the PlayStation 5 while Microsoft owns some of the most popular game franchises in the world. It wouldn’t be unthinkable for Microsoft to start leveraging those other franchises as exclusive releases. Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, and many more could become exclusive to Microsoft. If they’re willing to do it with The Elder Scrolls, they’ll likely do it with anything.
If you’re a fan of Bethesda franchises, you might not want to pull the trigger on that PS5. Unless you’re committed to one of Sony’s exclusives, the Xbox might serve you better. There’s always PC gaming, of course, but good luck finding a new video card. They’re still in short supply and hugely overpriced, and there’s no sign supply will loosen any time soon.