It's not often that Head of Xbox Phil Spencer gets to confirm a bit of news regarding Sony's console exclusivity lineup, but today's off to a real strange start. Amid the flurry of news and clarifications after Microsoft announced that it is purchasing Bethesda parent company ZeniMax in a $7.5 billion cash deal, Spencer says Xbox plans to honor the PS5 exclusivity arrangements already in place for Arkane's Deathloop and Tango Gameworks' GhostWire: Tokyo.
Word from Spencer comes via Bloomberg's Dina Bass, who spoke with the Microsoft executive this morning. On Xbox and PC, the plan for future Bethesda titles is to treat them like any other first-party Microsoft release, meaning they'll launch as part of Xbox Game Pass. Releases of Bethesda games on other platforms—so, seeing things like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom on a Nintendo or Sony device—will be handled "on a case by case basis."
Back in June at the PS5 unveiling event, Sony put a spotlight on both Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo as two of its major timed console exclusives. Bethesda has since confirmed that Deathloop (which will also come to PC when it launches in 2021) is only set to be a PS5 console exclusive for a year.
Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda is a huge coup for the Xbox manufacturer, adding its stable of accomplished studios like Arkane and Machine Games to the already-stacked Xbox Game Studios roster which includes developers like Obsidian Entertainment and Double Fine. While this puts Microsoft in the odd position of honoring two exclusivity arrangements for its main console competitor, Deathloop and GhostWire are both new franchises. Meanwhile, Microsoft gets to boast about buying the makers of Skyrim and Fallout one day before it launches pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
Bringing Bethesda's back catalog and all future releases to Xbox Game Pass further strengthens the value of Microsoft's subscription service, already one of its major selling-points for the next-gen consoles. In contrast, Sony has its venerable stable of first-party studios but its streaming service PlayStation Now and newly announced PlayStation Plus Collection are lacking in both presence and sheer volume of titles. With the possibility of Microsoft keeping Starfield and the sequel to Skyrim off of PlayStation, Sony may feel pressure to pursue more exclusivity arrangements like those it has for Final Fantasy 16 and the Demon's Souls remake.