Starfield’s Potential PS5 Exclusivity Prompted Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda

The idea that Starfield could have ended up as a PS5 exclusive is what prompted Microsoft to buy the company.

During Microsoft’s hearing against the Federal Trade Commission, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed that one of the major reasons for the company’s acquisition of Zenimax—Bethesda’s parent company—was the fact that Starfield might have ended up as a PS5 exclusive.

“When we acquired ZeniMax one of the impetus for that is that Sony had done a deal for Deathloop and Ghostwire… to pay Bethesda to not ship those games on Xbox,” said Spencer, according to The Verge.

“So the discussion about Starfield when we heard that Starfield was potentially also going to end up skipping Xbox, we can’t be in a position as a third-place console where we fall further behind on our content ownership so we’ve had to secure content to remain viable in the business.”

Spencer argues that Microsoft’s strategy of acquiring companies like Bethesda is a way for it to stay competitive in the market against Sony, who has in the past paid for exclusivity for titles like Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo.

Spencer has also refused to comment on whether the next game in the Elder Scrolls franchise would be exclusive to Xbox, or if it would see a multiplatform release. He cited the fact that the game is still too far out to comment on what platforms it would come out on.

The FTC has been using Microsoft’s past acquisition of Bethesda and how it turned multiplatform games into Xbox exclusives as evidence that it shouldn’t be allowed to acquire Activision Blizzard.