One of the bigger surprises to come out of the gaming world from the last year was when Microsoft announced the acquisition of one of the biggest gaming publishers in the world: Bethesda. This announcement sent shockwaves throughout the gaming world as Bethesda games would now have the possibility of being exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem.
Fast forward to the Microsoft presentation at E3, where that possibility became a reality. During the presentation, Starfield was announced as an Xbox exclusive. This resulted in so much backlash from fans that Bethesda’s Senior Vice President, Pete Hines, apologized to PlayStation owners for Starfield being an exclusive; but was this apology necessary?
I’d like to easily say the answer is no, but after the acquisition, Microsoft was flirting with the idea of exclusivity among upcoming Bethesda games, but nothing was entirely set in stone. When Microsoft and Bethesda first talked about their plans for games moving forward, they used a lot of confusing language to convey their point, saying stuff such as “it will be on a games-to-games basis” meaning not all games would be exclusive. Of course, these comments were made while they were still in the early stages of the acquisition, where both companies were going through all the legality stuff to see if exclusivity in their games conflicted with the competition laws, but after Disney and Fox, nothing was really off limits.
Reading between the lines, Microsoft never said the games wouldn’t be exclusive either. The only thing confirmed after the acquisition was that the two unreleased Bethesda games that were originally announced as PlayStation exclusives would still be PlayStation exclusives.
Once the buyout was officially confirmed, Microsoft finally spoke about their plans for future games. One of the key statements was that all Bethesda games going forward, barring the two PlayStation exclusives, would be Xbox Game Pass exclusives. So, in other words, Bethesda games would only be available on devices where Xbox Game Pass was playable, which is currently only PC and Xbox consoles.
After looking back through the acquisition, do we think the apology was warranted or not? For me it is, because at the end of the day no company has ever apologized for going exclusive with another company. Did RARE ever apologize to Nintendo fans after Banjo-Kazooie became Xbox exclusives? Nope. Did it hurt Nintendo fans? Absolutely.
Sure, it sucks when a game is exclusive to one console over another, but it is what it is. Do we as gamers deserve an apology? No, because at the end of the day it is all business. In an ideal world, nothing would be exclusive, but then there would also only be one console, and would we really want that?
Do you think Bethesda should’ve apologized for Starfield being exclusive to Xbox? Let us know in the comments below or on our Discord!