Bethesda exec Pete Hines apologized to PS5 owners for Starfield's Xbox exclusivity

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,038   +817
Staff member
In brief: Starfield got a new teaser trailer during Bethesda's E3 press event. It was a cinematic affair without any actual gameplay footage, but the video was created using the game's alpha build. However, the real news was the confirmation that Starfield will be an Xbox exclusive and the conflicting feelings surrounding that deal.

Starfield's Xbox exclusivity is not much of a surprise. Since purchasing Zenimax for $7.5 billion last September, we knew Microsoft would grab anything that Bethesda had not already nailed down in an exclusivity deal, including Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI. However, not all of Bethesda's heads feel the same about Starfield being exclusive to Xbox.

In a post E3 interview with GameSpot, Bethesda's Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications Pete Hines apologized to PlayStation 5 owners for the studio's move away from its historically platform-agnostic development.

"I don't know how to allay the concerns of PlayStation 5 fans other than to say, well, I'm a PlayStation 5 player as well, and I've played games on that console, and there's [sic] games I'm gonna continue to play on it," Hines said. "All I can really say is, 'I apologize,' because I'm certain that that's frustrating to folks, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it."

When Bethesda announced Starfield and TESVI during E3 2018, Todd Howard did an excellent job of exciting PlayStation and Xbox fans alike without saying too much of substance. Everyone, including Howard and the rest of Bethesda, just assumed the games would launch on both platforms, but that was well before the Microsoft/Zenimax merger.

That said, Howard was unapologetic about Starfield's Xbox exclusivity. Earlier this week, Howard told The Telegraph that he felt making Starfield exclusive to Xbox (and by extension, PC) was in the game's best interest.

"You don't ever want to leave people out, right?" Howard said but then went on to add that that is precisely what they are doing, and he's glad for it. "At the end of the day, your ability to focus and say, this is the game I want to make, these are the platforms I want to make it on, and being able to really lean [into] those is going to make for a better product."

He also goes on to paradoxically explain that excluding an entire demographic of Bethesda's former fanbase somehow gets its games into more players' hands.

"We're big believers in all of the avenues that Xbox and Microsoft are doing to get games to more people," Howard explained. "Whether that's the integration with the PC, which is huge for us, the cloud streaming and all those things. So I think it's about taking a long-term view."

He contends that because of "GamePass and other things," the ability of gamers to play Bethesda games does not decline but "goes up dramatically." Huh? By whose math?

Maybe that is true when only considering Xbox players, but certainly not in general. The studio was previously producing on all platforms, so the ability to get more games into more hands did not go up when Microsoft told Bethesda, "No more PlayStation development."

Was it the right move for Microsoft? Absolutely. Xbox has long suffered from a lack of console-selling exclusives. Xbox will benefit from Bethesda exclusivity tremendously. There are people who, when supply reaches normal levels, will purchase an Xbox Series X|S solely based on the fact that PlayStation is not getting Starfield or any other future Bethesda title.

Is it going to benefit Bethesda as an individual production house? Even early on in this current console war, PlayStation has a lead in console sales. When you consider the number of total units sold with past Bethesda games across all platforms, it's easy to see that its position is not as profitable from a pure numbers standpoint under the Microsoft umbrella. However, that's part of the deal, and as Hines said, "There's not a whole lot [Bethesda] can do about it."

Permalink to story.

 

Lounds

Posts: 857   +755
Remember when Microsoft bought Minecraft, yeah it was exclusive on console to Xbox 360 for about a year then it was on PS3.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 696   +1,233
Never seen one of these from one of the many studios Sony routinely buys.

Must be hard to watch for Microsoft: just doing the exact same thing their competitor does gets them criticism that feels way more one sided. People distrust Xbox and Microsoft that much more than Sony.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 241   +117
At this point, I'd be fine with this. Exclusivity -> time exclusivity.

Opens up the doors to just stop with the platform exclusivity BS...

And when Sony agrees to put God of War 2, HFW, or say a sunset overdrive 2 on Xbox (later after some time with it exclusive to Playstation) then I'm absolutely good with this too.

Exclusivity sucks for gamers but only when it's you whose being left out many of the typical gamer think it's a positive when it's their platform that's getting the good side of rhe deal.

Maybe when gamers stop praising exclusives and instead push back on it then things may change... But come on.... What games goi g to get mad at their preferred company for making a game that they can play but not others?

Like can you image gamers on Playstation boycotting buying Spiderman 2 until its available to everyone on all platforms?

Hahaha yea right!
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 241   +117
I think I remember that they were a bit cryptic, but implied established series would probably be good, but new series would probably be kept exclusive.

Anyone who assumed this was doing just that assuming.

Their exact words never implied any "series" would stay multi Plat they said they support communities that already exist and fulfill already agreed to obligations. They left it open so they could if they wanted also just through any game in the future on any platform they want.

What this boils down to they won't be ending supper for fallout 76 or elder scrolls online New stuff for them will Continue to come to all platforms (same applies to any other "community" I'm leaving out) and then we have games like deathloop that are already contractually obligated to come out on Playstation (even exclusively for a time) same for again for any other games with similar already established obligations.

But outside of this they have pretty much spelled it out these companies were being bought to make games for their ecosystem and though they won't be locked down to just xbox they will go wherever game pass is or will go.

That's their way of skirting the locking down / making less accessible idea because to them if you have a phone (or a browser or soon a smart TV or even a place to plug in a hdmi streaming stick) that you ABSOLUTELY have the ability to "access" these games.

In no way are they forcing you to buy a certain console.

So to them that's making the games available to a "much wider" audience.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,421   +2,745
TechSpot Elite
And when Sony agrees to put God of War 2, HFW, or say a sunset overdrive 2 on Xbox (later after some time with it exclusive to Playstation) then I'm absolutely good with this too.

Exclusivity sucks for gamers but only when it's you whose being left out many of the typical gamer think it's a positive when it's their platform that's getting the good side of rhe deal.

Maybe when gamers stop praising exclusives and instead push back on it then things may change... But come on.... What games goi g to get mad at their preferred company for making a game that they can play but not others?

Like can you image gamers on Playstation boycotting buying Spiderman 2 until its available to everyone on all platforms?

Hahaha yea right!
I would looove to see it.
But I don't even know if the other platform would allow the first (major exclusive) competing franchise in the first place. Would change precedence (in a very consumer friendly way), and would be ammo against them if they didn't want to do it themselves.

Honestly, if MS could get Halo Infinite MP onto PS, that would be awesome (and would compete with CoD and their decent cross-platform support).
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 241   +117
Remember when Microsoft bought Minecraft, yeah it was exclusive on console to Xbox 360 for about a year then it was on PS3.


Again this is something completely different.

Minecraft isn't a "game" per se and was really more of an established and already multi platform ecosystem.

They bought it to make the most of that brand.

The Bethesda purchase has been for a completely different reason here they want games for the platforms ones that people can actually "respect" and to push back against some notion that they "have no games".

They spent more money than any other merger of its type and it wasn't because they wanted to make that "huge" Bethesda money off multiplats.

Minecraft was about way more than a "game" that already existed as a browser game and more of the "Brand" and its mass market appeal.

Zenimax nor any of its brands are on the level of minecraft in the zeitgeist of our world.

They make games people in the know and would likely feel obliged to "join in" for but otherwise the vast majority of the world barley pays attention to.

One purchase and it's reasoning isn't equal to the other.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,421   +2,745
TechSpot Elite
Anyone who assumed this was doing just that assuming.

Their exact words never implied any "series" would stay multi Plat they said they support communities that already exist and fulfill already agreed to obligations. They left it open so they could if they wanted also just through any game in the future on any platform they want.

What this boils down to they won't be ending supper for fallout 76 or elder scrolls online New stuff for them will Continue to come to all platforms (same applies to any other "community" I'm leaving out) and then we have games like deathloop that are already contractually obligated to come out on Playstation (even exclusively for a time) same for again for any other games with similar already established obligations.

But outside of this they have pretty much spelled it out these companies were being bought to make games for their ecosystem and though they won't be locked down to just xbox they will go wherever game pass is or will go.

That's their way of skirting the locking down / making less accessible idea because to them if you have a phone (or a browser or soon a smart TV or even a place to plug in a hdmi streaming stick) that you ABSOLUTELY have the ability to "access" these games.

In no way are they forcing you to buy a certain console.

So to them that's making the games available to a "much wider" audience.
I will say "time will tell".

At the end of the day, MS is focusing on software over hardware. The games would reach a bigger audience (more money). For now I'll expect future ES and Fallout games to stay multi-platform (even if timed). And I hope both Xbox and Sony fans call MS out otherwise...
 

Irata

Posts: 1,517   +2,488
It‘s really interesting to see that the same people who always praised Playstation for its exclusives now have a problem with the same thing.

As long as games are released for Xbox and PC, customers have a choice, I.e. do not need to buy a specific console just to play the game.

Either way, I am not a fan of exclusives unless they are time based (I.e. release a game earlier for one system) but sadly it seems that‘s what gets customers into an eco system, so doing the right thing is probably not paying off (as usual).
 

Kosmoz

Posts: 258   +461
Never seen one of these from one of the many studios Sony routinely buys.

Must be hard to watch for Microsoft: just doing the exact same thing their competitor does gets them criticism that feels way more one sided. People distrust Xbox and Microsoft that much more than Sony.
You're soo wrong, it's not even close to the same comparison. Sony buys either small/new studios who don't have nearly as much impact as Bethesda and all the other that MS bough, or they buy 2nd party studios, which by Sony's internal reference they think of them as 1st party and they work with them the same as being 1st party. Those 2nd party studios usually already make PS exclusives. So PC and Xbox misses nothing that they had before from them, because they never had their games in the 1st place.

What MS did is a desperate move because they can't grow their own successful 1st party studios as we've seen in the past so many years now and how they failed to make great new games and were stuck with just the trio: Halo, Gears, Forza for so many years. So they bought one of the biggest and well known, as in Zenimax which includes Bethesda, which were always 3rd party available for everyone on all platforms and had fans and players for many years.

That's the biggest difference and the biggest issue. What Sony bought did not affect Xbox and Xbox players (you don't miss what you never knew and never had), but what MS is buying, directly affects PS and PS players, because they have a history with those games and companies. And that stops now, very abruptly...

Just for the record, I'm not against exclusives for every platform, they are necessary for that platform's success and uniqueness, even if someone gets to suffer (the other platform that misses them). So I accept what's happening, I was just trying to make it clear that what you said above is not a fair comparison at all.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 241   +225
Is this decision surprising? The purpose of the acquisition is give the company a leg up against competition. Sony have been doing this with great success and for a long time. So with people complaining that MS have nothing exclusive to consider over the PS5, this is expected to happen. So be careful what you wish for.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,676   +3,546
TechSpot Elite
Nobody really cares that much about Startfield, but if they ever announce that TESVI will be "exclusive" to xbox... that's when people will destroy Bathesda, more so than what they did with Fallout 76. I'm sure that even Todd doesn't want to anger such a huge number of TES fans.
 

yukka

Posts: 954   +132
Because Bethesda already make a load of games that people are used to appearing on all platforms, its definitely a different way of dealing with "exclusives" if you buy the developers and then turn multi platform franchises into platform exclusives. Bound to get peoples backs up.

However, I have been an avid player of Destiny on Xbox since its release and Sony's exclusivity deal in that game was just awful for the players. Playstation players got extra maps and weapons that weren't available to Xbox players for 12 months or longer in some cases. Since it was a game as a service etc, the maps when they were made available were no longer relevant and then it was the next year, the next expansion and the next exclusivity deal again with Sony doing the same.

I can also point to Sonys reluctance to embrace crossplay as a reason I prefer a world where Microsoft have a bit more leverage compared to Sony. Sony have sold more consoles due to the absolute train wreck of the xbox one kinect launch debacle and their perceived better exclusives. And to be fair, I would love to play Demons Souls on next gen too so they won't be losing out there. But for years Gears of War and Forza have been the Xbox exclusives and its not enough.

I was just a bit dissappointed we didn't get an eldar scrolls 6 trailer but if they were going to announce that as an exclusive then it would have taken some of the sting out of Starfield or added insult to injury. Someone in marketing knows more about eking out emotions than I do.

Oh yeah and that Bethesda guy needs to get with the program or go work somewhere else. Doesn't sound like his heart is in it and no one needs negativity in the workplace.
 

Lounds

Posts: 857   +755
Again this is something completely different.

Minecraft isn't a "game" per se and was really more of an established and already multi platform ecosystem.

They bought it to make the most of that brand.

The Bethesda purchase has been for a completely different reason here they want games for the platforms ones that people can actually "respect" and to push back against some notion that they "have no games".

They spent more money than any other merger of its type and it wasn't because they wanted to make that "huge" Bethesda money off multiplats.

Minecraft was about way more than a "game" that already existed as a browser game and more of the "Brand" and its mass market appeal.

Zenimax nor any of its brands are on the level of minecraft in the zeitgeist of our world.

They make games people in the know and would likely feel obliged to "join in" for but otherwise the vast majority of the world barley pays attention to.

One purchase and it's reasoning isn't equal to the other.
Minecraft is a game. It's also the world's best selling game.

Roblox is a multi platform ecosystem.

As much as I get what you're saying, the issue is Microsoft is potentially losing Zenimax profits they would have gained as a publisher by locking it to just xbox and PC for future released games.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 696   +1,233
You're soo wrong, it's not even close to the same comparison. Sony buys either small/new studios who don't have nearly as much impact as Bethesda and all the other that MS bough, or they buy 2nd party studios, which by Sony's internal reference they think of them as 1st party and they work with them the same as being 1st party. Those 2nd party studios usually already make PS exclusives. So PC and Xbox misses nothing that they had before from them, because they never had their games in the 1st place.

What MS did is a desperate move because they can't grow their own successful 1st party studios as we've seen in the past so many years now and how they failed to make great new games and were stuck with just the trio: Halo, Gears, Forza for so many years. So they bought one of the biggest and well known, as in Zenimax which includes Bethesda, which were always 3rd party available for everyone on all platforms and had fans and players for many years.

That's the biggest difference and the biggest issue. What Sony bought did not affect Xbox and Xbox players (you don't miss what you never knew and never had), but what MS is buying, directly affects PS and PS players, because they have a history with those games and companies. And that stops now, very abruptly...

Just for the record, I'm not against exclusives for every platform, they are necessary for that platform's success and uniqueness, even if someone gets to suffer (the other platform that misses them). So I accept what's happening, I was just trying to make it clear that what you said above is not a fair comparison at all.
That just tells me that overall by your own admission you don't disagree with me or the purchase: You just want Sony to sequester away an equally big Intellectual Property holder comparable to Bethesda: the salt is the fact that MS has more money to spend than Sony.

So just to put it out there: maybe, just maaaaaybe, exclusivity deals and walled gardens or "ecosystems" are not so good after all if somebody can outspend you. It technically means that a giant like Facebook or Apple could decide to buy out someone huge like Ubisoft and use it to launch a crappy 4th competing console to the market and there wouldn't be anything you can do about it if you adhere to "Platform exclusivity is inherently good!"
 

DZillaXx

Posts: 281   +406
That just tells me that overall by your own admission you don't disagree with me or the purchase: You just want Sony to sequester away an equally big Intellectual Property holder comparable to Bethesda: the salt is the fact that MS has more money to spend than Sony.

So just to put it out there: maybe, just maaaaaybe, exclusivity deals and walled gardens or "ecosystems" are not so good after all if somebody can outspend you. It technically means that a giant like Facebook or Apple could decide to buy out someone huge like Ubisoft and use it to launch a crappy 4th competing console to the market and there wouldn't be anything you can do about it if you adhere to "Platform exclusivity is inherently good!"

When VR becomes even more mainstream its a when not if for Facebook. They will no doubt end up picking up something big to fast track VR Games.

As for Apple, who knows. Everything they do that is not iPhone or iPad is pretty meh. Just look at Apple TV and all their other services. Any game studio Apple picks up will no doubt end up like MS's purchase of Rare. Apple as a company isn't diversified and highly dependent on the success of iPhones. I know they've been trying to change this, but its been really slow.

Sony doesn't have the money to spend on big studios nor does it have the money to build a massive cloud service. They currently have a handful of exclusive titles, but this easily changes over time. I don't see Sony as a long term player in the video game front if their goal is to try and keep up with MS. The Xbox Ecosystem is both PC and Console, and MS will only continue to grow that front.
 

Kosmoz

Posts: 258   +461
That just tells me that overall by your own admission you don't disagree with me or the purchase: You just want Sony to sequester away an equally big Intellectual Property holder comparable to Bethesda: the salt is the fact that MS has more money to spend than Sony.

So just to put it out there: maybe, just maaaaaybe, exclusivity deals and walled gardens or "ecosystems" are not so good after all if somebody can outspend you. It technically means that a giant like Facebook or Apple could decide to buy out someone huge like Ubisoft and use it to launch a crappy 4th competing console to the market and there wouldn't be anything you can do about it if you adhere to "Platform exclusivity is inherently good!"
I don't disagree with the purchase, like I already said, it was inevitable since MS cannot grow or raise a new studio that can produce great AAA games as proven by the last almost 10 years, but Sony can. So MS because of it's ineptitude, but also because of it's big bucks, buys them already established, by the dozen. That's one way of trying to fix their problem...

In e perfect world only we, the users would win and we would have every game on every platform at the lowest cost, but we don't live in that world so these exclusives / platform are a necessary evil, so I accept them.

What I want is irrelevant (for Sony to have as many studios as MS has), but what is relevant is that Sony with it's 14 studios (those are 1st party only + some few 2nd party) has already proven they can produce at least a dozen great games in 1 generation, MS proved nothing yet and we still have only promises and hopes, even now. So until MS actually scores with the 1st new AAA game, it's all hopes and dreams.
MS has 23 or 24 studios now (rumored to be buying more) and Sony 14 (plus 2nd party ones). It may look like an advantage for MS, but it's no advantage if they don't make more great games or as least as many as Sony does...
It's not about the quantity, but the quality and Sony proved they know how to chose talented studios which some of them release hit after hit after hit.
Sony doesn't have the money to spend on big studios nor does it have the money to build a massive cloud service. They currently have a handful of exclusive titles, but this easily changes over time. I don't see Sony as a long term player in the video game front if their goal is to try and keep up with MS. The Xbox Ecosystem is both PC and Console, and MS will only continue to grow that front.
The same story is being told since PS1, that Sony is too little to last vs the giants, or they will fail, etc. Did not happen and won't happen.

Like AMD, Sony is proving (to everyone else) that just throwing money at the problem is not the best/only answer, you also need smarts and I'm not talking normal levels, but super-smarts. So they make very smart investments and decisions and the last x number of years proved it works.

-------------
Also here is a question for everyone: unless you own stock in those companies (just for the record I don't own any stock in anything), why would you want the big players to roflstomp the smaller ones? Why would someone want MS, or Apple, or Google, or Facebook to destroy everyone else and they alone to dominate in their field?

I will never side with the big guys, there are many more negatives of them winning than Sony, or Nintendo, or AMD (vs Intel and nvidia for that matter) winning.