He said, “I don’t want to be flip about that.” “This arrangement was not made with the intention of taking games away from another player base.” ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ was nowhere in the documentation we put together. We want more people to be able to play games rather than fewer individuals being able to do so. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering your question directly—when I think about where people are, I think about
Whatever that means, indeed. On the one hand, yes, Microsoft had clearly thought about delivering new games to Microsoft-centric platforms… but none of this was done to keep other players from playing these games. To anyone paying attention, that sounded like exclusives wouldn’t be a thing. Todd Howard of Bethesda made many of the same noises.
Speaking at the Jeffries Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference last Friday (as transcribed by Seeking Alpha), Stuart said directly that “in the long run… 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.”
But then came Xbox CFO Tim Stuart, who’s messaging was a bit less vague but a lot more concerning.
“That’s not a point about being exclusive,” Stuart continued. “That’s not a point about… 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.”
Still vague, but less so. So, no Bethesda exclusives, but perhaps timed exclusives, timed releases, or content differences on Microsoft platforms. Maybe. Kinda? It’s all very confusing.
Except no it isn’t and it turns out everyone was simply lying. Because Elder Scrolls VI, a Bethesda title, was just announced as a PC and Xbox exclusive after all. And it’s Phil Spencer who is back to drop that bad news.