Last week, Phil Spencer took part in a ‘Roundtable’ chat with Bethesda key figures that discussed future plans for the Xbox brand, including its Game Pass service. As we know, Microsoft acquired Bethesda, and its vast catalogue of games last year in a historic buyout that totalled $7.5 billion dollars in investment.
Elder Scrolls 6 (and the Rest of Bethesda’s big Hitters) Will Likely Be an Xbox, PC, Game Pass Exclusive
As predicted by Editor Mont Cessna, and myself last year, the likelihood of seeing the next Elder Scrolls entry on a platform that does not support Xbox Game Pass is slim to none. Microsoft’s goal is to build its Game Pass service into the premier gaming subscription service in the world. I would argue that it already is. However, Microsoft’s end goal goes beyond that. In truth, the company wants every single gamer in the world to subscribe to its service. In order to do that, the company needs to entice a large part of Sony’s sizable chunk of console market gamers into the Xbox fold.
The Acquisition of Bethesda and its massively popular properties were a step in that direction. Considering that big hitters like The Elder Scrolls 6 are still years away, the payoff of the acquisition might not be seen in its full impact until the latter part of the decade.
That said, the logic at play here is simple: Even you are a Sony fan (a Hardcore fan), Bethesda has a wide catalogue of games that sold incredibly well on the PlayStation 4. A game like The Elder Scrolls 6 will generate interest even amongst some of the most ardent PS loyalists. Even though these gamers are likely to own a PS5 by the time that a game like ES6 releases, many will be tempted to try a Series X, or another ‘Game Pass’ ready device in order to play the game.
What Microsoft is Banking On
Microsoft is betting that once gamers experience the benefits of being subscribed to Game Pass, said gamers will never leave the service. In order words, Microsoft is playing the long game. They want to sell Xbox consoles, and they would love to outsell the PlayStation brand in that regard. But winning that battle will not indicate who is the dominant player in the video gaming market in the next decade. Having the largest amount of Game Service subscribers, however, is likely to be what will drive the business forwards in the upcoming decades.
Phil Spencer made that (exclusivity)plan clear last week when he made a statement in the roundtable chat that has generated controversy all over gaming forums on the net:
“If you’re an Xbox customer the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists. And that’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building – and the creative capability we’ll be able to bring to market for Xbox customers is going to be the best it’s ever been for Xbox after we’re done here.”
Game Pass will be Available in a Wide Range of Devices
If gamers want to play Bethesda’s soon to be exclusive catalogue, they will need a device that features Game Pass as a service. Many of these gamers own decent PCs that might be capable of running the games. Many will adopt xCloud. In that case their android and iOS devices will stream the games.
Then there are the lifelong console gamers. That’s the market that Sony currently dominates. Bethesda’s acquisition along with Game Pass’ growing catalogue of 3rd party games (EA is in, and rumors of Ubisoft joining at the end of the year abound) will provide a stern test for Sony’s market share dominance on the console space over the next decade.
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