Zenimax and Bethesda are now part of Microsoft. There is still no public declaration, as behind the scenes the ink has not yet dried under the contracts and mountains of dollar bills worth 7.5 billion have to be “raked over”, but it is done!
The Bethesda deal is dry and Microsoft will now take a short, deep breath, then pop the corks and hangover to “As usual“Pass over.
But what’s next for Bethesda?
We have given some thought and would like to introduce you to a few scenarios that can be discussed further and to which we cordially invite you in the comments.
Existing contracts are kept, that’s a fact!
Right from the start, it should be clear to everyone that before the takeover, Bethesda had entered into certain contracts with all of its in-house studios to release games for various platforms over the next one to three years.
Microsoft has already expressly announced in advance that these contracts will be respected and, for example, allows games such as “Deathloop” to continue to appear exclusively for the PlayStation 5 for 12 months. Contract is contract!
This approach will most likely affect all contracts that Bethesda signed before the takeover and possibly even collected money for them.
Bethesda & Microsoft – What’s Next? You can speculate!
A comment by Tobias Schulte
It is impossible to make a clear statement, but you can still try to classify the bigger picture.
In my opinion, the first thing to do is to clearly distinguish the Bethesda games from one another. There are many areas that influence this, but I want to keep it simple and understandable:
1.) Games that have been in development for years and that were contractually designed with other partners before the Microsoft takeover. (Deathloop, Tokyo Ghostwire, …)
2.) Games that have established themselves on all platforms over decades in Bethesda’s long history of success. (DOOM, QUAKE, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, …)
3.) New games that are now being implemented with Microsoft. (Unknown)
Software sells software
While the hardcore fan base is screaming that all Bethesda games should only appear exclusively in the Microsoft eco-system in the future, the Redmond-based company could pursue other plans.
And, “Software sells hardware” – and it’s still the old school motto that helped Sony sell millions of consoles, with a world-class global marketing strategy (and more) playing an important role here. (But that’s another topic I can write a little more about if you’d like. Let me know in the comments and please tag me @ Z0RN, thanks.)
Furthermore, it must be noted that the sale of Xbox consoles – i.e. pure hardware – plays an important role for Microsoft, but other areas are far more important.
These days, services like Xbox Game Pass also sell a lot of games, so “Software sells software” and while you can sell around 10 to 20 million units on one exclusive platform, maybe 100 million on multiple platforms?
Now if you ask a company whether they want to sell 10 million or 100 million games, what would the answer be? And let’s be honest, every playmaker out there wants to throw the next Grand Theft Auto, FIFA or Call of Duty on the market, which will then be played millions of times over decades and still sell well today (annually).
But GTA5’s recipe for success would never have worked on a single exclusive platform. The same applies to FIFA, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Apex Legends and all other games that are currently played millions of times a day and break record after record.
If you were to ask a company what it would think of not selling its game once 100 million times at a fixed price, but rather “renting” it out month after month for a certain fee over the years, then that would appear here too Answer to be clear again.
Furthermore, as already mentioned, the sale of hardware is of secondary importance for Microsoft and it has been emphasized several times that it is more important to pay attention to the monthly active user and subscription numbers instead of the consoles sold. So you want more active users in your own “eco-system” and in your own “game launcher”, which today has grown many times over with Zenimax / Bethesda.
Multiplatform titles are (not) being taken away from other platforms – or are they (not)?
One could further argue that with the PC, the Xbox console family and xCloud gaming, Microsoft already has some platforms that could be operated exclusively – and that will definitely happen, but in my opinion not with tokens that have been used in the last few decades have built up a huge fan base on various platforms.
After decades, why should you forbid access to games like QUAKE, DOOM, Fallout, Elder Scrolls and others on other platforms if you only get the anger of the excluded community of players?
How do you explain to the old sworn and blatantly tattooed “DOOM-SLAYER-METAL-HEADBANGER” player that he can no longer play the DOOM he has loved for the last 20 years on his platform? Impossible! Not even a Phil Spencer can do that.
In my first assessment, Microsoft will offer all established brands that were available on other platforms in the past for a certain period of time (10 years and more) in the same way as before.
Likewise, multiplayer, games as a service and online games such as “The Elder Scrolls Online” benefit from a huge gaming community that cannot be reached on a single exclusive platform. Games like this will most likely remain multiplatform too.
The servers have to be full – and always for years!
But what do we get out of the deal?
For starters: Xbox and PC players get all Bethesda games in Game Pass, and almost free!
Possibly upcoming releases will appear exclusively in time – maybe even as the Ultimate Edition in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – as was the case with Gears 5.
This “First on Xbox” and “Plays Best on Xbox” branding could then run through the entire upcoming Bethesda portfolio, which would be a huge win for every Xbox and PC player.
The support of the games is also significantly improved and the maximum is tickled out of the respective consoles. A DOOM Eternal Enhanced Upgrade for the Xbox Series X should never be as long in coming as it is now, although the acquisition may have played a role and postponed many of the studio’s plans.
So nothing is exclusive, are you serious now?
Yes, yes – and a lot!
The Xbox Game Pass service can only assert itself if new and exclusive content is published (monthly) and the number of subscribers continues to skyrocket.
This is achieved by offering or making available the Xbox Game Pass on as many devices as possible and continuously providing it with new content. The 100 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers, that’s the goal with this Bethesda deal and the many other studio takeovers.
An Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming stick or a pre-installed XGP app on TVs is only a matter of time. Furthermore, the Microsoft Edge browser also enables cloud gaming, which includes almost all platforms in the world.
All dreams of the future? Not really, because anyone who registered with Bethesda via DOOM Eternal has a Microsoft Bethesda account as of today. A deeper link between Nintendo Switch and the Microsoft account or Xbox LIVE would also be a big step in the gaming industry, which would flush even more active users into the Microsoft eco-system, whereby only the input device is not from Microsoft . Who cares!?
The vision of Play Xbox anywhere, which was presented to me at the Games Convention in Leipzig, has a completely new meaning and Microsoft currently offers the best all-round solution when it comes to synchronizing scores with each other and creating a seamless gaming experience – that is out of the question.
What’s now coming exclusively for Xbox?
For my current assessment (March 2021), the upcoming exclusive titles for Xbox & PC are all completely new gaming brands that have never been heard of before. So you don’t take away the beloved game of the last decades because you don’t even know it. Anyone who has read the above part will understand why I came to this conclusion.
Newer games or current series of games such as RAGE, The Evil Within, Wolfenstein or Starfield, on the other hand, are more “wobbly candidates”, whose platform orientation will be decided again.
The release of new games for already established brands, such as a new Fallout, DOOM and more, however, could be tied to conditions. Maybe the external platform has to implement cross-play with Xbox or a registration in the Xbox launcher is necessary after the game has been installed on your PlayStation or Switch. However, one or the other title may have to land on the Xbox in return.
The possibilities are limitless and maybe everything will turn out differently, but at least we thought about how it could turn out! Hopefully, Microsoft will tell us in the coming days with a clear message how it really comes out in the end, whereby the big picture must also be considered here in order to determine the possible Case-by-case decisionsas Microsoft has already officially announced.
By the way: Tomorrow Forza Horizon 4 will be released via Steam for PC – and? Let’s play together!
Note: This is a comment by Tobias Schulte, which in no way reflects the attitude of Xboxdynasty or other employees.