Microsoft sent waves through the gaming industry after it purchased ZeniMax Media and all of its subsidiaries, including the award-winning developer and publisher Bethesda Game Studios. The time since has been filled with questions surrounding the fate of future Bethesda titles. Primarily, gamers have been wondering if they will be available on all of consoles that they’ve shipped on so far. A statement from an Xbox executive on Bethesda titles should put those fears to rest, although it may just raise new ones.
At last week’s Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference, Xbox Chief Financial Officer (or CFO) Tim Stuart spoke about Microsoft’s largest acquisition and the fears console players have. The good news is that Bethesda games won’t become Xbox exclusives. They’ll still be found on PlayStation 5, the Switch, and obviously on PC. However, Jefferies also said that regardless of how these games get to other consoles, they’ll be inferior to their Xbox counterparts in some way. “We want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms,” said Stuart. “We will want Bethesda content to show up the best as — on our platforms.”
What does this mean for other platforms?
What that means for future Bethesda titles on other platforms isn’t entirely clear. But this stated shift towards a “first or better or best approach” on Xbox platforms (as Stuart calls it) could have some effect on how games like The Elder Scrolls VI or Starfield perform on other next-gen or current-gen consoles whose names don’t start with “X.” It wouldn’t be the first time a Bethesda title runs better on one console than the other – Skyrim was infamously bad on the PlayStation 3, running worse and worse as players put more time into it, while the game’s Xbox 360 version ran without a hitch.
No worry on the PC end of things of course, Microsoft has explicitly stated that all future games that come from a Microsoft-owned studio will also release on PC. Preventing a game from running as well as it possibly could on PC would require intentionally limiting it. With Bethesda’s PC market being as large as it is, it’s entirely unlikely that will happen.