In context: When Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Bethesda (and its parent company Zenimax), the gaming community's reaction was mixed. Some users were excited -- after all, it means more great games available on day one via Game Pass. Others, though, feared Microsoft would begin making all of Bethesda's future blockbusters, such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, Xbox (and PC) exclusives.
Fortunately, we have some good news on that front: Bethesda's upcoming games will not be exclusive to the Xbox Series X/S or PC -- for the time being, anyway. Xbox CFO Tim Stuart confirmed this information during a recent talk at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference, and it will likely come as a relief to Bethesda's many, many PlayStation fans.
"We highly encourage cross-platform play," Stuart says. "Simply from this landscape of, if it's good for the gaming ecosystem, it's good for us, classic rising tide lifts all boats."
Stuart isn't misleading anyone here. With a few exceptions, the Xbox team has always been the one pushing for cross-platform play with many bigger games, such as Fortnite and Rocket League -- it's Sony that resisted that sort of thing. Initially, anyway; Sony devices are in a much better state regarding cross-platform play these days.
However, as great as this is to hear, there are caveats. Though the Xbox crew isn't looking to block PlayStation customers from accessing Bethesda games in the near future, that doesn't mean the experience will be the same across both sides of the gaming aisle.
Starfield received a few alleged image leaks some time ago, though Bethesda has not confirmed their accuracy.
"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," Stuart continues. "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."
Just to speculate, PlayStation customers may get fewer unique features (perhaps unrelated to gameplay) or later release dates for Bethesda's bigger projects. To be clear, we're not saying the developers (or even the Xbox team) will be looking to intentionally gimp the PlayStation versions of their games. Rather, the Xbox versions might just get more developer attention.
Still, the core experience probably won't be hugely different between the two devices, so if you're a happy PS5 customer right now, you probably shouldn't feel obligated to rush off and buy an Xbox Series X or S just to enjoy the "best" (whatever that may mean) version of Starfield or The Elder Scrolls 6.