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The exclusivity was confirmed by publishing boss Pete Hines on Thursday, who was speaking in court during the opening day of Microsoft’s legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission, which is seeking to block its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Hines was asked by FTC lawyers to confirm if, before Bethesda was acquired by Microsoft, Disney had a signed agreement with its parent Zenimax to “make an Indiana Jones game for multiple consoles”, to which he replied, “yes”.
The publishing boss was then asked to confirm if, after Microsoft’s acquisition, Disney brought up the issue of which consoles the Indiana Jones game would be released for. Hines again replied, “yes”.
He then confirmed that Bethesda had later amended the Disney agreement, and that Indiana Jones will now be an Xbox and PC exclusive, and a day-one release on Xbox Game Pass.
Since joining Microsoft, Bethesda has honoured prior exclusivity agreements with PlayStation for games such as Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, but made other titles such as Redfall and this year’s sci-fi RPG Starfield Xbox console exclusives.
Pete Hines claimed in court on Thursday that the publisher now made exclusivity decisions on a “case-by-case basis”, and that the titles it did decide to release only on Xbox benefitted from “streamlined” development, partly due to it having to test fewer versions.
“You go to fewer platforms, your development gets more streamlined,” he said. “It just needs to run as well as possible on one box, on PC. You know, a narrow focus always helps.”
It’s this same reason why Indiana Jones was repositioned as an Xbox console exclusive, he claimed.
“The primary one in my view is what I said about reducing risk and trying to get to a degree of certainty,” Hines said, as transcribed by journalist Derek Strickland.
“You’re dealing with a licensor who’s going to have a ton of feedback on what you’re making, add a lot of time to your schedule, you’re required to provide a release window. You immediately have a clock that’s ticking. We liked the idea of bringing it to Game Pass and all the players we could reach there.”
Hines went on to claim that if Starfield were releasing on multiple consoles, it would not be able to make its planned release date later this year. “In my opinion, no, this game would not be coming out in 9 weeks if we were supporting an entirely different platform.”