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Everything that happened in the final day of court between Microsoft and the FTC

The Elder Scrolls 16 gets a surprising namedrop

An image of the Xbox, PlayStation and FTC logos
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Five days of verbal jousting and juicy internal documents later, the court battle between the US Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft is over. The FTC have worked to prevent Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in court, and now the overseeing Judge will look back on the proceedings to make their final decision in the next few days.

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But for now, let’s rundown everything that’s happened over the last two days in court based on reporting by The Verge and IGN.

  • Microsoft’s lawyer makes an oopsie and says The Elder Scrolls XVI is coming out in three years - 2026. They obviously meant to say Elder Scrolls VI, but even then, that projected release window is a very generous estimation considering that Xbox’s boss said the RPG is at least five years away. According to my stellar maths, if every entry takes a Skyrim-sized break, the sixteenth Tamriel won’t release until the year 2154.
  • Head of Xbox Phil Spencer apparently decided that every new game from Bethesda would become an Xbox and PC exclusive in late 2021. “Not just new IP, but ALL games going forward? Wow,” wrote Xbox’s CFO Tim Stuart in a recorded conversation. That probably means that new entries from Doom, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls will skip other consoles.
  • Internal Sony documents were poorly redacted, accidentally revealing that both The Last Of Us Part II and Horizon: Forbidden West cost over $200 million to develop, which presumably doesn’t include marketing. Big games cost a lot, huh?
  • The subject of Call Of Duty exclusivity was “never discussed or assessed” with Microsoft CFO Amy Hood. The company’s goal was seemingly to “increase Xbox’s operating margin to bring it closer to those of Microsoft’s other lines of business.”
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says he’d “love to get rid” of console exclusives, but Sony has “defined market competition using exclusives.”
  • Previous court proceedings revealed that Microsoft once had their eye on acquiring Sega Sammy, but the Sonic publisher says they’re not currently interested in being bought up, speaking to Bloomberg. Although, they are “very close with Microsoft.”
  • The FTC raised concerns that Game Pass and PlayStation Plus would “suck up all the content and that’s it” - leaving no space for other cloud gaming or competing subscription services.
  • Microsoft called the FTC’s concerns over cloud gaming “absurd” since it’s not an “economically viable model.” The Judge responded with “maybe not right now… but we don’t have DVDs anymore.”
  • Final funny thing: Judge Corley referred to God Of War as “the Thor game.”

We also have a full rundown from the first day (including details on Indiana Jones and revenue shares) and the following internal documents (which hint at new IPs from Bungie and possible future acquisitions from Microsoft). But I'm somewhat sad our time as a fly on the wall is over since we rarely get this many spicy behind-the-scenes details on tight-lipped companies. We’ll see what it all amounts to as Judge Corley comes to a conclusion sometime next week.

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