Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda, was largely motivated by concerns over potential PlayStation exclusivity for Starfield, according to Xbox chief Phil Spencer’s testimony at the FTC v. Microsoft hearing. Spencer revealed that Sony frequently pays competitors to exclude their games from the Xbox platform, leading Microsoft to believe that owning Bethesda was necessary for competitive reasons.
The acquisition of ZeniMax Media, which cost Microsoft $7.5 billion, promised exclusives for Xbox and PC, with titles like Redfall already released and Starfield scheduled for a September 6th launch. Additionally, the upcoming Indiana Jones game from Bethesda will be exclusive to Xbox and PC.
Spencer declined to confirm whether Elder Scrolls VI would be an Xbox exclusive, citing the game’s distant release date as a factor. While he had previously hinted at the possibility, it remains uncertain.
During his testimony, Spencer portrayed Sony as an aggressive and hostile competitor, highlighting that Sony takes a 30 percent revenue cut from games released on their platform, using the funds to undermine Xbox’s market presence. Microsoft’s acquisitions of Bethesda and the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, valued at $68.7 billion, are strategic moves aimed at competing with Sony. Despite the substantial financial investments, Microsoft acknowledges their historical challenges in effectively countering Sony’s dominance over the past two decades.