Bethesda + Xbox Roundtable (What We Learned)

Last week, Xbox and Bethesda had a joint roundtable session after Xbox had acquired ZeniMax Media Inc along with Bethesda Game Studios and all of their studios (id Software, Arkane Studios, Machine Games, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games and Roundhouse Games).

It was very cool to see Phil Spencer and Todd Howard sitting together during the roundtable. I just feel like they are going to do some great stuff together. Although I’m no longer an Xbox-er (and I haven’t been since Xbox 360 generation) I believe that Phil Spencer is an amazing “face” for the platform. It feels like the friendship between Todd and Phil was already there. I’m sure Phil is that “cool buddy” for many developers and publishers all across the games industry.

Phil mentioned “Exclusivity” and said this doesn’t mean that everything from these studios will be exclusive to Xbox and Microsoft platforms. Phil said they want to continue “shipping great exclusive games on platforms where Game Pass exists.” He mentioned how some games have contractual obligations (like Deathloop with PS5) and some are legacy games (like the Fallout and Doom series) which I don’t think should be messed with.

Bethesda Softworks has been making games since I was born (1986). In 1990 Bethesda became a subsidiary of ZeniMax Media Inc. Some time after that they began acquiring other development studios, many whose games are published under Bethesda. Microsoft officially acquired ZeniMax Media Inc, Bethesda Softworks and their studios last week for $7.5 billion.

When I first heard of this deal and all of the studios under the Bethesda umbrella I thought of a game I’ve been playing recently, Man Eater (not a Bethesda game). In Man Eater, you are a hungry shark and you’re just trying to eat everything (fish, humans, reptiles, other sharks…) until you are the biggest, baddest mega-shark that ever lived. The drawing I made below shows what I first saw in my head when hearing about Xbox buying Bethesda and their studios.

While watching the “Bethesda joins Xbox Roundtable” they spoke about collaboration and building a bigger “trust bubble.” What I first thought of as Microsoft buying a bunch of game studios and saying, “You make games for us now!” isn’t really that at all. Sure, it’s important for Xbox to have more first-party studios this generation after not having as many great exclusives as Playstation in the previous generation. I’m sure many of these studio’s games are going to be exclusives or timed-exclusives to Xbox platforms and Game Pass.

It’s also about building this great big gaming community, not just for us gamers, but for the game makers. It sounds like Xbox is trying to make their games better by acquiring more studios they admire. They’re creating one large collaborative community. Not as in mixing and matching studios to create games together, but by giving the game creators access to the creativity and knowledge of other great developers. Now Todd Howard (from Bethesda) can have Steve (a made up person from Obsidian studios) in his rolodex to call up and ask for advice about something he may have liked from The Outer Worlds.

20 Bethesda Games now on Game Pass

Another huge announcement from this roundtable was that these 20 Bethesda games (above) are now available on Xbox Game Pass. This is great news for anyone with Game Pass. Look at all of these games, I’ve played about half of them, and I would still be excited to try out some new ones (or jump into the ones that I never finished). I just started Rage 2 on my PC after it was free on Epic Games and that’s just a stupid, fun shooter.

After watching the roundtable and hearing Phil Spencer speak on exclusivity I don’t believe that every single Bethesda game (other than those with contractual obligations) will be exclusive to Xbox and Game Pass only. I know a lot of people are saying now everything Bethesda is Xbox only. I’m guessing Starfield, Indiana Jones and some other new IP will go Xbox exclusive, but the next Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom and other legacy games will continue to come to all platforms.

It is important for Xbox to keep some (or many) of these games to themselves to bring Bethesda fans over to Xbox and Microsoft platforms. I just think that only releasing every Bethesda game on Game Pass would be a mistake, there would be so much lost revenue there.

When a game I released day one on Game Pass, Microsoft sees no extra sales money. They just continue to receive all of their subscribers’ monthly payments. Releasing these games at full price on Playstation and Nintendo (if possible) can only bring in more money. I’m sure there will also be timed exclusives that come to Xbox/Game Pass day one, but may come to the other platforms down the road.

There’s also the way Phil spoke saying, “on platforms where Game Pass exists.” Microsoft wants to make Game Pass into what Stadia and Amazon Luna are trying to be, except with even more games to choose from (including brand new Xbox first-party games). They’re just trying to make great games accessible to more people on more devices.

Ever since the announcement of the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox has been acquiring studios. Here is their lineup of first-party studios before last week.

Xbox Game Studios (before acquiring ZeniMax Media Inc)

Even though I’m a Sony fanboy and I finally ordered my new PS5 while watching this roundtable, I am always looking forward to new, cool games on all platforms. If anything big that I really need to play comes to Xbox (and PC) only, I may finally upgrade my PC parts (I’m looking at you Indiana Jones). And once I upgrade my PC I may actually give Game Pass a try for Windows 10.

Indiana Jones Bethesda Game – Teaser Trailer

You can watch the entire Bethesda Joins Xbox – Roundtable right here:

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