As the news of Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, and its various studios has settled in, there’s been one niggling point that’s sort of hung in the air: whether Bethsoft’s IPs will be allowed to flourish on other platforms or they’ll be Xbox and Microsoft exclusives. During last week’s Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference, Microsoft chief financial officer Tim Stuart spoke a bit about that matter, effectively saying “yes but no” in a sense:
“The goal here is, we’re — I’ll say it from a cross-platform perspective. Microsoft is a platform. We’re one of the first to really support Minecraft, Roadblock, Fortnite across platforms. So we highly encourage cross-platform play, simply from this landscape of, if it’s good for the gaming ecosystem, it’s good for us, classic rising tide lifts all boats.
“What we’ll do in the long run is we don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms. We will want Bethesda content to show up the best as — on our platforms.
“Yes. That’s not a point about being exclusive. That’s not a point about we’re being — adjusting timing or content or road map. But if you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that’s what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline.
“So again, I’m not announcing pulling content from platforms one way or the other. But I suspect you’ll continue to see us shift towards a first or better or best approach on our platforms.”
Stuart once again seems to reiterate the “case by case basis” mantra that’s been mentioned in interviews by others like Tim Howard, saying that Bethsoft will “continue to sell [its] games on the platforms [where] they exist today” while also saying Microsoft will “determine what that looks over time and will change over time.”
“I’m not making any announcements about exclusivity or something like that,” he said. “But that model will change.”
The ultimate point, according to Stuart, is to further bolster Microsoft Game Pass by expanding the games it offers and continuing to be “acquisitive,” all as part of what he refers to as Microsoft’s “North Star” strategy.
“It’s about how do you take that content and put it into a service like Game Pass to drive that subscription of the North Star metric? So I think the long — the short answer to your question is we’ll continue to look at content, we will continue to look at bolstering our first-party studios. And as always, if the right value is there with the right content creators with the right IP, we’ll continue to look at opportunities like that.”