Xbox + Bethesda | One Year Later

Thought this was a great video by our very own OBM.

How do you look at the Bethesda acquistion one year later? Did it change the way you perceive Xbox? Is this the most important deal Xbox has ever made? What do you think.

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The Bethesda acquisition has definitely made me more confident in the future of Xbox, and particularly, their pivot to Game Pass as a major part of their business model, which in turn has changed how I play games, spend my money, and view the industry as a whole. (FWIW, I have GPU stacked into 2023 thanks to the conversion trick, and I did it for free thanks to Microsoft Rewards)

I am fortunate enough to own all three systems (Series X, PS5, Switch) and thanks to Game Pass, those other systems largely sit unused, gathering dust. I’ve used my Switch for maybe 30 hours since the start of the pandemic, after a short-lived stint with Animal Crossing. My PS5 gets used when there’s a new exclusive to play (if it is to my taste and “worth” buying on day one - I’ve purchased several of the exclusives pre-owned) but I’m currently waiting for Deathloop to hit Game Pass next year. My Series X is my daily driver and honestly I’ve never had more to play! I do buy new releases at launch - this year I’ve bought Hitman 3, RE8, Nier Replicant, Forgotten City, Death’s Door, I am Dead, and maybe a few others? - but I’m also constantly playing stuff on Game Pass or from my own backlog, oftentimes enhanced with AutoHDR, FPS Boost and/or Quick Resume. Game Pass definitely has changed how I spend my money and how I spend my time.

All things considered, I do think the Bethesda acquisition is the most important deal Xbox has ever made, but it just hasn’t felt like it YET, because we as Xbox gamers won’t be receiving any substantial new benefits from it until Redfall launches next summer. Obviously, the back-catalog of Bethesda’s titles entering Game Pass is huge, and shouldn’t be understated. Personally, I had already played/owned a majority of those titles, but for someone new, it must have been amazing! The “problem” I think several users on this forum have had with the Bethesda acquisition (and frankly, many of Microsoft’s acquisitions in the past few years) is that the payoff is almost always further down the line and not immediate, which doesn’t help Xbox’s narrative of “where are the games?” I think of how different the discourse would be about Xbox now if titles such as The Outer Worlds, Wasteland 3, Psychonauts 2, Deathloop, and more didn’t also ship on PlayStation. Yes, we got them “for free” on Game Pass, and more people playing these games isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it didn’t immediately help the image of Xbox with regards to lacking exclusives. That said, the acquisitions were obviously investments in the future of the platform/service, and that future looks very bright indeed.

Building off that idea, I generally agree with the sentiment that industry consolidation isn’t a great thing, but it is hard to argue with certain facts, like Psychonauts 2 being immeasurably better thanks to the acquisition. You see that across many of the recently acquired studios. Wasteland 3 was one of my favorite games of 2020 and a large part of that is the resources inXile had access to as part of Microsoft. Grounded is a game Obsidian never would have been able to make if it weren’t for Microsoft’s help. So when fans on this forum cheer for more acquisitions, I tend to agree with them, in the sense that those studios will hopefully be able to make their best games, and crucially for me, I get access to those games with Game Pass. (Sega when?!?) Cheering for a Sony acquisition feels less good in a way, because I’m not necessarily a fan of buying more $70 games. If they had an adequate Game Pass competitor, perhaps I’d feel differently, and obviously I want competition between all of the platforms - it leads to innovation and hopefully better products. It’s a fine line to walk - I want studios to have freedom, I want them to have resources, I want competition between the platforms, I want to save money where possible, but I don’t want consolidation. I’m not sure there’s a correct answer. Microsoft buying Bethesda kind of sets a weird precedent for the gaming industry, and I get why Sony fans would be upset. Obviously we know Bethesda was having money troubles for several years, and they were looking to sell, but only to the right partner. (and imagine if it was EA or Activision? Arkane as a support studio for Call of Duty? Blech.) But it does feel weird, and I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of it. (Again, Microsoft buys Sega when?!?)

Sorry for the long post, but it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while. The Bethesda acquisition was an amazing show of strength for the future of Xbox, but in the meantime, I’m still left a little wanting. As @Shpeshal_Nick has said, “Xbox should’ve been pricks and torn up the contracts.”

(sorry for the big edit - added a whole extra paragraph!)

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If someone else doesn’t also leave a huge wall of incoherent babbling, I’m going to feel like a fool for ruining this conversation!

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No it’s really good.

I agree the Bethesda deal hasn’t “kicked in” because we haven’t had any games that are Xbox yet. That changes next year as we get 2 heavy hitters, including the heaviest hitter of them all in Starfield. Starfield has a chance to be the big moment for Xbox that changes how the platform is perceived.

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I think Starfield should take Gamepass to 50 million subscribers…assuming it won’t be there already and will be Bethesdas biggest release in history thus far… then I look forward to reading how $6 billion a year is not sustainable.

I was all in for Xbox Series X a my primary since April 2020 when Sony revealed their specs for PS5 and thus, my decision was made. This was months before Microsoft acquired Bethesda. While majority here favor Bethesda Game Studios the most, I favor them the least. Their games just never looked good to me. Starfield is literally the first game that I have seen from Bethesda Game Studios that has me excited for the simple fact that their games no longer look like what I said moments ago.

So while majority favor Bethesda Game Studios, I favor all the other studios. Love Machine Games and the first three Wolfenstein games, Tango Gameworks with The Evil Within 1 and 2, Arkane with the Dishonored franchise and Id Software (and Avalanche Studios) with Rage 2. I liked Doom 2016 and completed it but holy shit, way too fast for me. I played it on the easiest difficulty level and still died a shit ton. Skipped Doom Eternal as I know it’s not for me plus im not into the hell/demons setup. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next since Doom appears to be done for the time being.

Bethesda overall was my 3rd best publisher last generation so if the studios I love can give me great games like they did last generation while Bethesda Game Studios finally gives me games that look amazing and current, I will be a very happy gamer. Add in Roundhouse as a wildcard and Bethesda has a very good chance at surpassing what they gave me for last generation.

Just hoping I can get a Dishonored 3, The Evil Within 3 and Rage 3 even though Rage 3 is probably highly unlikely. But first things first. Barring any delays, Redfall should be my first Bethesda game of the generation unless Wolfenstein 3 comes out of nowhere.

I think ZeniMax deal was definitely a huge boon for Xbox as a whole. While they were growing rapidly the years prior and while they did grab some solid studios I feel that ZeniMax really eclipsed them.

Yes the roll out is slow as it has been with most of these purchases outside the ones that were tied at the hip with Xbox (Playground, Undead) we will really start to see the fruit come next year with 2 big games and deathloop making an appearance also. The speed they will add games coming to xbox will increase as prior deals go through and than everything is xbox.

Add in the library that came with that purchase to gamepass has been incredible. So many great classics that could be given a chance that I never tried because money was a huge deciding factor.

So in the end while 2018 was great ZeniMax was possibly the grand finale*.

*subject to change to any future acquisitions. Even than still a great purchase.

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Massive deal for Xbox but it hasn’t really kicked off yet. Starfield and Deathloop on Xbox in 2022 will be the beginning.

The Bethesda acquisition was pretty big for me. For a while I wasnt playing games much and pretty much stuck to first party, post-acquisition is the first time I’m experiencing any Zenimax game that isn’t Elder Scrolls or Fallout.

Pretty eye opening.

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It’s been a year since the announcement and the fruits of the acquisition haven’t really shown themselves to Xbox gamers outside of adding a really nice backlog of older games to Game Pass so I feel most gaming enthusiasts haven’t grasped how big this will be. Next year when Starfield is shown at E3, I think people will begin to get it…a little bit.

There were a lot of other things that I had pulled for research on Bethesda and Microsoft that was cut from the article that I felt was interesting. The Creation Engine overhaul may catch a lot of people off guard. In general, I’m excited to see what comes of this tech-sharing partnership between Microsoft’s AI divisions and their studios. Bethesda’s studios make a lot of dynamic, sandbox-style games that focus on emergent experiences. Hard to imagine them not gaining from Microsoft’s AI and physics teams over time.

Bethesda continues to have a lot of job openings. Zenimax Online started up another team that is making something likely not an MMO. Tango and Arkane are hiring lots of developers. Roadhouse has some talented people at their studio.

Elder Scrolls and Fallout sold nearly 100 million combined through a traditional gaming model. What happens to those IPs when they’re available on Game Pass? Over cloud? Those are IPs that will adapt well to latency so you have to imagine people will try them through streaming when available in a few years.

Machine Games can get back to single-player, story-driven games. Evil Within and Dishonored can now come back and continue those stories despite being critical successes and commercial disappointments.

ID Tech! ID has already shown the ability to partner with another studio while building their own game when both Doom and Rage 2 were in development at the same time.

The suite of tech and talent that can share stuff now under Microsoft exploded once they purchased Zenimax. Going to be exciting to see it unfold over the next few years.

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Bethesda will pay off big time. An incredible get for MS. Already made Game Pass way better and that’s without new games.

For the record, I found your “babbling” coherent. Keep doing your thing.

Also I agree with the sentiment…because of Game Pass and the advantages that come with it for both customers and developers, it hits different when these studios are acquired by Microsoft. Personally I care little about whether a game remains exclusive. What is awesome is knowing that these studios now belong to a platform that encourages diversity and gives them exposure. The tech sharing and support is also a signficantly under-rated benefit that I believe will start to show itself in the near future.

Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I’ve been wanting to get into a bit of games writing for a while now, but have also been a little shy and unsure of myself. If I can ever put together my thoughts decently, I’d like to try writing a piece for this site? The work you guys do inspires me!

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The Id tech folks are already talking to the Graphic Architects in the Platform team. They sort of hinted at this in their DF interview.

Given MS’s investment into OpenAI, I will not be surprised at an OpenAI level of bots in Halo or even Doom/Quake soon using Reinforcementt Learning.

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Nicely made video, well done.

At this stage, one year later, the Zenimax deal remains more about potential than change for me.

The immediate boon of dropping the back catalogue on Game Pass was a nice initial boost to the service, of course, but the deal is yet to deliver in terms of games.

There will be debate over whether MS could have got more out of it to date – having already paid $7.5bn, might they just have bought their way out of the Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo contracts, when Sony almost certainly would have in the same situation? And did the Quake remaster need to be multiplat when that could have been a first win for the deal? Those questions will no doubt continue if Indiana Jones is not an exclusive, or if the new ZOS IP ends up being multiplatform.

But that aside, the potential is still enormous.

Deathloop and Ghostwire will come, and by the end of next year we will have Redfall and of course Starifled – two new IPs that will now forever be associated with the Xbox brand.

In the future we have the next id franchise (now they have announced Doom is closing up), Machinegames usually have two projects on the go, we have unknowns like Roundhouse as well, and a new IP from ZOS.

It’s exciting, and it was a much needed move on MS’ part on the way to fulfilling their responsibilities as a platform holder to deliver must-have AAA exclusives.

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any articles on this that you can share here?

Xbox was already my personal preference but the Zenimax deal convinced me that it is 100% the place for me to play games.

In my opinion it was the most important deal in Xbox history & maybe the biggest deal in gaming history, ever.

I’m actually kinda shocked that people got over it so quickly, to be honest.

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