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The 5 Best And 5 Worst Things About Microsoft Purchasing Bethesda

As the next generation of console gaming approaches, Microsoft and Sony are gearing up for a tense battle. After Microsoft finally revealed the Series X price and launch date, Sony soon followed with its own announcement for the PS5. With similar price tags and launches set in November, the competitors remain neck-and-neck. The closer it gets to these big dates, the greater the anticipation.


A number of big announcements will likely rock the gaming industry in the coming months. Word of Microsoft's decision to acquire Bethesda got the ball rolling, and many fans rejoiced, expressing their excitement over the impending partnership. More than just Bethesda, the acquisition includes all the studios under that umbrella through the purchase of parent company ZeniMax Media. This will bring major franchises — including Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and more — into Microsoft's hands.

This new deal has sent shockwaves through the community, but it opens the door to many questions. In the end, will this work to Microsoft's benefit, or will it fall short of fans' expectations? These are the 5 best and 5 worst things about Microsoft purchasing Bethesda.


BEST: More curb appeal for the Xbox Series X

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has an interesting philosophy about gaming exclusivity. In a July 2020 interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Spencer shared his belief that forcing players to buy a specific system to play a title is "completely counter to what gaming is about." This marks a sharp contrast to Sony's PS5 exclusives strategy, and one that has both comforted and concerned Xbox cheerleaders.


In the past, players and industry experts have called out Microsoft for its lack of first-party offerings. In an analysis of the Xbox One, Polygon's Colin Campbell stated that Spencer was charged with the unenviable task of coming up with a solution to Microsoft's paltry first-party lineup — an issue that has persisted for the upcoming console generation. It seems as though the Bethesda acquisition might be just the move to change that.

Spencer has focused on building a great service through the Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's cloud gaming platform that grants Windows and Xbox players access to a huge library of games — including first-party titles — for a monthly fee. Bethesda's partnership with Microsoft is a huge get for the Game Pass, boosting the curb appeal of the Series X as more of the company's "iconic franchises" are added to the service.


WORST: The PS5 still has a stronger launch lineup

Despite bringing Bethesda and its developers into the fold, Sony maintains the more enticing lineup for the PlayStation 5. During its Sept. 16, 2020 showcase, Sony flaunted quite a few impressive games, with launch titles including Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Godfall, and Demon's Souls. By comparison, the Series X's launch isn't looking so hot.


While comparing the release lineups of the Xbox Series X and PS5, Alessandro Fillari of GameSpot stressed the importance of launch games for a console's initial success and continued growth. Though the Series X has some notable titles coming out on day one, Fillari said it's lacking a "killer-app." Another strike against the Series X's starting lineup was the delay of Halo Infinite.

Series X buyers will have plenty of games to play on launch day with the Xbox Game Pass, but its lack of new major titles available at release could give Sony the edge. Everyone will have to wait until November to see how this plays out.

BEST: The possibility of Fallout: New Vegas 2

What has kept gamers' dreams of a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas from becoming a reality? Likely the fact that developer Obsidian does not actually own the rights to the series.

Fallout: New Vegas became a fan favorite, but its mere existence resulted from Skyrim taking up too much of Bethesda's time to create its own follow-up to Fallout 3. Given this, Bethesda hired Obsidian to develop a new entry in the series, which is how gamers were graced by this action RPG classic. Microsoft already acquired Obsidian in 2018, and now that Bethesda has joined the party, what once seemed like a near impossibility could become a reality.


Calling it "the game that everyone wants," Polygon's Patricia Hernandez proposed that there is a chance fans could see a Fallout: New Vegas 2 with both teams under one roof. Though a sequel remains nothing more than speculation at present, Hernandez did point out that it might be an effective way to address Microsoft's lack of strong, first-party titles.

WORST: Future Bethesda games may not come to other consoles

Microsoft's acquisition calls the availability of future Bethesda games into question. Will gamers still be able to enjoy these titles on their platform of choice? Or will franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Fallout eventually be restricted to Xbox and PC? Considering these series have been widely available, it's a valid concern for anyone who doesn't have access to Microsoft platforms.


As it stands, such a fate has yet to be confirmed or denied, though, according to Business Insider, other consoles likely won't see Bethesda games following 2021. For the time being, Microsoft plans to honor the current commitments Bethesda already has with other platforms.

Though Phil Spencer is known for his stance against gaming exclusivity, he addressed platform availability in a Bloomberg interview, revealing that Microsoft would "take other consoles on a case-by-case basis." This statement certainly opens the door to a possible future in which Bethesda games will only be available for Xbox and PC, or even withheld from certain consoles.

BEST: PS4 gets to keep Elder Scrolls Online

With Bethesda hopping on the Microsoft train, many have questioned how the move will affect its games on other consoles. For PS4 owners, a big concern is whether they will be able to continue enjoying The Elder Scrolls Online on their preferred system. Well, fortunately, it seems Microsoft is playing nice, at least for now.


The Elder Scrolls Online Twitter account posted an official statement from ZeniMax Online Studios' studio director Matt Firor that addressed the matter. Firor put to rest concerns from distressed fans by ensuring that The Elder Scrolls Online would not only remain active on other platforms but would continue to grow and thrive no matter where you play. On top of that, he shared his enthusiasm over the acquisition by saying how he "can't wait to see how the two companies working together can make ESO even better for everyone." Such a reassuring sentiment seems to indicate that Microsoft is committed to gamers, regardless of brand loyalty.

WORST: Monopolization could be an issue for the future of gaming

Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda is merely the latest move in an ongoing buying spree. The thought of Microsoft cornering the marking with all these companies and developers under its roof has already troubled some gamers. One Reddit user and Xbox owner expressed concern despite their general excitement over the partnership. They compared Bethesda joining Microsoft to Disney purchasing 21st Century Fox. Another user on the same thread, who was otherwise happy about the news, called it a "terrible precedent."


In an analysis for Polygon, Chris Plante questioned whether exclusives are bad for gaming in general. "I believe the more available a game is, the better," said Plante. "Competition breeds creativity. Plus, exclusives feed the already toxic culture of 'console wars.'"

At best, the Bethesda acquisition benefits Xbox and PC owners. If Bethesda's games wind up staying within Microsoft's court, it would isolate fans who don't own either platform, possibly even pressuring them to buy a Series X just to play the franchises they love. While that could boost the system's sales, it would also strengthen the already problematic "console wars" mentality, as Plante pointed out.

BEST: A brighter future for the Xbox Games Pass

Bethesda joining forces with Microsoft already promises to do wonders for the Xbox Game Pass. As if the prospect of more Bethesda titles coming to the service wasn't exciting enough, Microsoft announced in a press release that it plans "to bring Bethesda's future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC."


So, if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, you'll have access to exciting new titles like Starfield on day one. Such a prospect adds incredible value to a service that already gives players plenty of bang for their buck. As gamers enjoy the benefits of Game Pass, they won't have to wait or pay extra to experience upcoming AAA titles. Considering these hotly anticipated new games could easily sell outside the service, or at the very least arrive on Game Pass well after launch, this gesture will likely earn Microsoft, and the Series X and S, some bonus points.

WORST: PS5 still has the exclusives advantage

Considering Phil Spencer's stance on exclusivity, it comes as no surprise that Sony maintains the advantage regarding such content. More than that, Sony retains timed exclusivity on two upcoming Bethesda titles.


As reported by Jason Schreier, Xbox intends to honor the PS5 timed exclusivity agreements already in place for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. When looking at the impact this deal should have, it's hard to ignore that Sony has one over on Microsoft in this case. While the Bethesda-Microsoft partnership will bring a lot of great games to the Xbox in the future, Series X owners will still have to wait if they want to get their hands on those two titles.

The fact that Microsoft is maintaining this agreement looks better from an ethical standpoint, but it is likely a bit disappointing to Xbox fans that they will not get to enjoy Deathloop or Ghostwire: Tokyo on the same day as PlayStation users. Not to mention the lack of access to other PS5 exclusives like Horizon: Forbidden West and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. At least the Series X still has Hellblade 2.


BEST: A powerful partnership could yield even better games

As beloved as Bethesda games may be, they have become quite infamous for being buggy. Though these bugs can be frustrating, sometimes they are rather humorous. But imagine a world where Bethesda has the power and resources behind it to really step up its game. That is exactly the kind of optimism expressed by Pete Hines, Bethesda's SVP of PR & Marketing.


In an announcement on Bethesda's website, Hines reflected on his two decades with the company and how it rose from humble beginnings. Detailing Bethesda's massive expansion over the years, he arrived at the acquisition as a major turning point, bringing greater opportunities to create titles of a higher caliber. With Microsoft behind Bethesda, future projects could see significant improvements, including more polish and fewer bugs.

According to Hines, both Bethesda and Microsoft are in alignment when it comes to culture and values. Taking all this into consideration, it looks as though something great could get even better.

WORST: Bethesda could be in the wrong hands

With the power of Microsoft behind it, Bethesda seems confident that its games will improve in quality. But when looking at Microsoft's history with developer acquisitions, it doesn't exactly have the best track record.


Rare is one of the best examples of this. A successful developer under the Nintendo umbrella, gamers noticed a rapid decline in Rare's games following its purchase by Microsoft. As Justin Cook, a former designer for Rare, put it in a conversation with Eurogamer, "The problem here was that Rare was a very long way from the very corporate structure of Microsoft and when Rare had made games it wasn't in isolation from Nintendo but as a creative partnership." 

Cook is not the only former Rare team member to speak out against the acquisition. Former Rare composer Grant Kirkhope placed some of the blame for the developer's fall from grace at Microsoft's feet. "I think Microsoft bought something that was on the way down and they didn't know it," Kirkhope said in an interview. "Then they compounded the problem." 


Perhaps with a better working relationship, Bethesda's fate won't prove as somber.