Recently, Microsoft rocked the gaming world through its acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. Consequently, this places eight development studios under ownership of Microsoft, namely: Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The $7.5 billion acquisition was done to benefit Xbox and bolster its first party studio stable. As Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, explains in his announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition:
. . .gamers should know that Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players.
While many may be excited for this, it has left others worried about the state of upcoming Bethesda-published games that were scheduled to be timed PlayStation exclusives. However, it has been confirmed that the upcoming titles Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo will still be PS5 exclusives despite Microsoft’s acquisition.
Spencer had confirmed as much when speaking to Bloomberg in 2020. According to an article by Jason Schreier and Dina Bass, Spencer stated that Microsoft would be keeping prior exclusivity commitments made by Bethesda Softworks to Sony, hence Deathloop (developed by Arkane Studios) and GhostWire: Tokyo (developed by Tango Gameworks) will still be timed PS5 exclusives. When the agreed upon exclusivity period is up, the games may then find their way onto other consoles.
As reported by VGC, this message was reiterated in the latest issue of Game Informer magazine by a Bethesda spokesperson who stated the following: “The acquisition hasn’t affected day-to-day development of Deathloop, which we’re developing exclusively for PlayStation 5 on console and also PC”.
This does not mean that future games published by Bethesda Softworks will be let out of the Microsoft ecosystem, however. Spencer explains that upcoming games such as Starfield will be released on Xbox, PC and Game Pass, while other consoles will be considered on a “case-by-case basis”.
Deathloop is a first-person shooter that puts you in the shoes of Colt, an assassin who is trapped in a time loop. Each day he wakes up to find himself on Blackreef island where he is the subject of a deadly manhunt. The only way he can free himself from the time loop is to eliminate eight key targets called Visionaries. Although initially planned for a release alongside the PS5, it has since faced delay due to the ongoing global pandemic. It is set to be released on PS5 and Windows on the 21st of May 2021. Exclusivity will last for a year.
GhostWire: Tokyo is an enigmatic first-person action-adventure game that has you going up against ghosts and spirits in a paranormal version of Tokyo where most of the population has mysteriously disappeared. Gameplay involves a blend of karate and magic. A release date of October 2021 has been set. It will remain a PS5 exclusive for a year before arriving on Xbox consoles.
With Xbox’s number of first party studios is now up to 23, the ZeniMax acquisition certainly puts them in a prime position to consistently deliver great games for Xbox players. Time will tell if this costly acquisition pays off, and mutually benefits both Microsoft and gamers.