In September Microsoft revealed its intention to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks in a $7.5 billion deal which is expected to close in the first half of 2021.
Following the announcement of the ZeniMax deal, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said Microsoft will honour existing PS5 exclusivity agreements Bethesda has in place for games like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo.
For future Bethesda games, which will be available on Xbox, PC and Game Pass, Spencer said “we’ll take other consoles on a case-by-case basis.”
Howard echoed those comments in a GamesIndustry.biz interview published on Thursday.
“We do view it, and always have by ourselves, on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “We’ll do that as part of Microsoft as well. They’ve been pretty open on other platforms and not just within Xbox. This is an outside perspective, but if you go back ten years at Microsoft, you wouldn’t expect them to have a full Office suite on an iPhone either.
“I can’t really project where things will be except to say we’ve done those sort of exercises ourselves as an independent,” Howard continued. “If you look at every Elder Scrolls game, there has been some exclusivity on Xbox or with Microsoft. We’ve partnered with every game. Morrowind was basically a console exclusive, Oblivion was a long timed exclusive, Skyrim’s DLC was exclusive for a long period of time.
“We’ll decide what makes the best sense for our audience when the time comes, and I can’t really project today what that looks like.”
With the ZeniMax acquisition yet to be finalised, Howard claimed discussions with Xbox about potential exclusives from Bethesda have yet to take place, although he agreed The Elder Scrolls 6 only releasing for Microsoft platforms “is hard to imagine”.
Spencer also stressed that it was too early for such discussions to occur in a recently published Gamereactor interview.
“First of all, I would like to say that we haven’t acquired ZeniMax. We have announced our intention to acquire ZeniMax. It is going through regulatory approval and we don’t see any issues there,” he said.
“We expect early in 2021 the deal will close. But I say that because I want people to know, I’m not sitting down with Todd Howard and Robert Altman and planning their future. Because I’m currently not allowed to do that, that would be illegal.
“Your question is completely inbound, but I get a lot of questions right now: ‘is this game exclusive? Is this game exclusive?’ And right now, that is not my job in regards to ZeniMax. My job is not to sit down and go through their portfolio and dictate what happens.”