The Xbox acquisition of ZeniMax/Bethesda is official, and some of each company's biggest names have hosted a roundtable to discuss what that means for the future of Bethesda games, including that elusive exclusivity question. Phil Spencer tried to clarify it as best he could, noting that while some games include contractual obligations they will honor and others may have "legacy" considerations, it sounds like the majority of future Bethesda games will only be available in the Xbox ecosystem through Game Pass.
"If you're an xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is that this [Bethesda deal] is about delivering great exclusive games to you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists." Spencer said during the streamed roundtable. Find the whole video at the link or watch it below.
While Spencer intended to be as clear as he could, the reality is his words still leave some things to interpretation. What does a game having "legacy" on other platforms mean? Virtually all past Bethesda games were multiplatform. But clearly many if not most won't be going forward. After the exclusivity windows end between PS5 and games like Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo, they will surely come to Game Pass as well. But what about games such as The Elder Scrolls, DOOM, and Starfield? Spencer understandably can't answer all those questions just yet, and in some cases it may even be true that the Xbox team doesn't know for sure yet. But what he does make no mistake about is that if you want to be sure you can access future Bethesda games, you'll want to have a gaming PC or an Xbox at a minimum.
To celebrate the kickoff of this unprecedented partnership, Xbox Game Pass is getting 20 new Bethesda games tomorrow. Note that some of the games announced have already been available on portions of Game Pass, such as Fallout 76 making its cloud debut after a long stint on console and PC. Here's the complete list which spans three generations of Bethesda games:
- Dishonored Definitive Edition (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Dishonored 2 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- DOOM (1993) (Console, PC, Cloud)
- DOOM II (Console, PC, Cloud)
- DOOM 3 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- DOOM 64 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- DOOM Eternal (Console, PC, Cloud)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Console, PC)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Console, PC)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (Console, PC, Cloud)
- The Elder Scrolls Online (Cloud, Console)
- The Evil Within (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Fallout 4 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Fallout 76 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Fallout: New Vegas (Console)
- Prey (Console, PC, Cloud)
- RAGE 2 (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (Console, PC, Cloud)
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood (Console, PC, Cloud)
"Where Game Pass exists" is a phrase that may drastically change in the years ahead, as Xbox has already revealed plans to launch an Xbox app on Smart TVs and there remains speculation that a dongle-based streaming console, a la Chromecast, may be in the works too (Xbox Series C perhaps?). For now, it's clear that Game Pass will keep getting bigger and Xbox is probably happy to make itself available on rival platforms should those competitors want to work something out. This next generation is going to be really interesting.