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Microsoft wants Bethesda games to be "either first or better or best" on their platforms

The Dragonborn faces a dragon in an Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim screenshot.

Speculation about upcoming Bethesda games will always be rampant, but the news that Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda has certainly dumped extra fuel on the fire. Many folks, myself included, are curious how Microsoft will manage the future of Bethesda’s big-name series. Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart says that they definitely want Bethesda games to be “either first, better, or best” on their platforms.

“We don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise,” Stuart says during a Q&A session from the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Conference last week as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “But 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.”

“If you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that’s what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline,” he adds. “So again, I’m not announcing pulling content from platforms one way or the other. But I suspect you’ll continue to see us shift towards a first or better or best approach on our platforms.”

Stuart refers back to Game Pass in multiple answers, indicating that nabbing Bethesda’s big catalogue of games is something that they hope will help drive more users to Microsoft’s subscription game library. He adds that Microsoft know they will need first-party games to push Game Pass’s success. “So that’s one of the places that we’re being a little bit more active in, as you’ve seen with Bethesda and some of the acquisitions we’ve done over the last couple of years.”

The “first” bit of “first, better, or best” is relatively obvious. Microsoft may consider timed exclusives on Xbox for future Bethesda games. That could also mean things like trial periods ahead of game launches exclusive to Game Pass and other ways to encourage subscriptions. As for “better or best,” well we’ll have to wait and see.

When the acquisition was first announced, Microsoft did clarify that they would stick to Bethesda’s prior commitments to bringing Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo to the PS5 as timed exclusives. Future games like The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield will be available on Xbox, PC, and through Game Pass with “other consoles on a case-by-case basis” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer at the time.

“I suspect you’ll continue to see us shift towards a first or better or best approach on our platforms,” Stuart said of Xbox’s strategy on the whole. Thank goodness that Windows is one of Microsoft’s platforms too, I suppose.

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